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a journal of analysis and comment advancing public understanding of religion and education
(more on the Journal)

Spring 2007
Vol. 34 No. 2

Editor’s Preface


One consistent theme these days from our social commentators is the polarization of so many aspects of our public life, principally in the political and religious arenas.  Civil discourse has been a consistent challenge.  Our first article of this spring issue takes on this challenge in the college classroom in the context of a discussion about faith.  Francis Dominic Degnin takes us through a pedagogy he developed for working through a definition of faith with students and, in the process, making them more self-critical and self-aware in this ‘era of religious extremes.’

In our second article, Robbie Steward and his colleagues explore religion and Christianity as points of diversity within counseling training programs.  Acknowledging the tension between psychology and religion, originating with Freud and persisting through the 20th century, the authors note the increasing strength of voices over the decade, countering this longstanding tendency.  In accordance with this growing acknowledgement of the influence of religion on psychology, Steward and his colleagues conducted a pilot study “to examine the level of preparedness counselor trainees may have in working with religious clients.”  A second “purpose is to examine Christian trainees perceptions of and experiences in training” (p. 31).

A challenge to many liberal arts colleges is maintaining their historic identity in an environment of increasing religious pluralism.  In the third article of this issue, Robert Spach examines this ‘identity-relevance’ dilemma in a study of Presbyterian colleges in the Southeast United States .  Spach begins with an analysis of “the post-Enlightenment context of higher education and the contributions that the Reformed theological tradition can make to how church-related colleges might embody their distinctive educational vision.”  He then examines how two colleges address “religious particularity and diversity on their campuses.” (p. 56)

The impact of the Lilly Endowment’s Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation (PTEV) was the subject of one of our articles by Jennifer Haworth and Mary de Villiers in the Winter 2006 issue.  We revisit this initiative in a multi-institutional study by Sarah Birmingham Drummond.  She enumerates lessons learned about planning for change in Christian colleges derived from the study of three distinctively different institutions: one historically-black college, one small liberal arts college, and one large Catholic university.

We track international issues in Religion & Education and periodically publish pieces that we feel are of broad interest for our readership and that highlight trans-national concerns.  Our concluding article is one such piece and is contributed by Iftikhar Ahmad.  Pakistan is much in the news for its multifaceted role in the events in Afghanistan and Iraq .  Professor Ahmad’s article contributes one perspective to the Pakistani backstory by offering his analysis of contending Islamic and liberal visions of citizenship education in Pakistan .  He illustrates the difference that emphases in textbooks can make in shaping the dispositions of the populace and, in the process, sets into sharp relief the challenge of balancing these forces that face President Musharraf.

The cover art for this issue is called Diana by Antionette Simmons Hodges. It was part of the October 2001 exhibit, A Question of Faith, at the University of Northern Iowa Gallery of Art.


Michael D. Waggoner, Editor

Religion & Education

Spring 2007