The Uncertain Future of Jesuit Education

Dystopian literature has never ranked high on my reading list. Recently, though, I have been watching a popular Netflix series adapted from a dystopian science-fiction novel of the same name, Altered Carbon. I like to think it represents the next stage of my 35-year formation as a Jesuit.

I was trained to read Homer at Oxford and Augustine at Notre Dame, and I have taught classics and theology at two Jesuit universities, in Silicon Valley and in New York. But in my current job as an administrator I have seen people far more anxious about the future than interested in the past. Dystopian literature has become a sign of the times, and we need to take it seriously.

Advertisement

Authors of dystopias imagine a future in which our deepest fears have come true. Nor do we lack reason for fear. Institutions have failed us; leaders we trusted have left us disappointed; solutions to big social problems have not panned out. We may be excited about driverless cars, but we dread the prospect of surveillance, increasing inequality and (as the M.I.T. professor Sherry Turkle put it in the title of one of her books) being “alone together.”

In recent years I have been surprised by how fearful and suspicious many college undergraduates have become. As smart, generous and hard-working as they are, there is a deep vulnerability and a habitual distrust in the values and authorities that provided previous generations with confidence and direction—a sense of citizenship and of religious commitment, to name only two. As one colleague has pointed out, regarding those growing up in the age of social media, “their nose for bulls--t has become more keen than their expectation of truth.”

The clinical data brings that psychological fragility into full relief. In 2016, for instance, the National College Health Assessment reported that nearly two-thirds of students surveyed complained of feeling overwhelming anxiety or hopelessness in the previous 12 months. That number was up 50 percent from what it was five years before.

In this context, Jesuit education has a unique voice and responsibility to project confidence in the future. Not only do our students and their families need what Jesuit institutions can provide, but so does the world. We need to offer persuasive alternatives to the dystopian narratives that shape our personal and institutional psyches.

Almost 20 years ago, Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J., the former president of Fordham University and editor of America, gave a lecture in Philadelphia called “What are the Odds of Jesuit Higher Education Surviving in America?” He gave no definitive answer to the question but insisted that any future worth investing in needed to be grounded in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Mere institutional survival cannot be a goal for those trained in a spiritual discipline that makes them free to seek the “greater good.”

Not only do our students and their families need what Jesuit institutions can provide, but so does the world.

In 1999, Father O’Hare could not have foreseen all the conditions that make institutional survival a real question now. But he did understand how reading Ignatius provides us a capacity for discernment so that we can navigate between the particular dystopias and utopias that fascinate us today. The Spiritual Exercises, in other words, enable us to inspire, but also to be realistic, adaptive to the particular needs of our times and responsive to our best guess of what the future—even a rapidly changing future—holds. They instill not naïve optimism, but a hopeful realism that responds to the reality of sin, death and failure without despair, one that acknowledges genuine fears without being enslaved by them.

Most important, they help us ground our students in a set of virtues that will continue to pay dividends for centuries to come.

The Future of Humanity and of Higher Education

At its core, the business of Jesuit education is the future of humanity, yet what that future holds is anything but certain, and “Altered Carbon” represents a particular vision that makes everyone anxious.

Set over 300 years in the future, the television series imagines a world where individual consciousness is recorded digitally on disk-shaped “cortical stacks” implanted in the backs of our necks. Human bodies have become mere “sleeves” that can accept any personal identity. Artificial intelligence can provide perfect fulfillment of any individual’s needs, appetites, even sexual tastes—which ironically do not require any bodily interaction.

Such scenarios may seem fantastical, but certain elements are real enough. The commodification of human bodies (“sleeves”) eerily reminds us of human trafficking and the status of so many refugees throughout the world. The satisfaction of sexual desire through a digital self is not all that far-fetched given the high incidence of addiction in contemporary culture to internet pornography, gaming and digital echo chambers that seem to make actual relationships less valuable. Whether or not our descendants centuries from now will be able to uncouple personal consciousness from a specific body, the question of what it means to be human is by no means inert.

Higher Education’s Crisis of Meaning

Although not dystopian literature exactly, another genre of writing highlights the precarious condition of contemporary academic institutions. Look at some of the recent titles: Poison in the Ivy; Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life; Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses; and Excellence Without a Soul. All signal deep social anxiety and make up a cottage industry for publishers catering to a range of tastes. There are also religious versions in books such as Catholic Higher Education: A Culture in Crisis.

The chief message of these books is that higher education is broken, though diagnoses and remedies vary. To some the problem is principally economic. The rising cost of tuition leads to crippling debt for college students, and we recognize that the system is financially unsustainable. To others the issue is that we have lost our soul. Colleges perpetuate racial or economic inequality; or in the pursuit of elite status, academics fail to heed a larger scale of civic or personal values; or religious institutions have become unmoored from their founding inspiration and identity. There are even apocalyptic predictions that 50 percent of colleges and universities will close or go bankrupt in the next 15 years and that online education will radically disrupt the business model of higher education.

The problems are all too real, they will not go away, and our response cannot be to bury our heads in the sand. Yet proposals to “fix” the problem of higher education can be wildly utopian, as different groups propose a variety of silver bullets. For some (especially on governing boards), doing away with tenure and investing in personal, online education or better athletics programs is the solution. For others (especially on faculties) becoming “less corporate,” doing away with administrative bloat, reducing teaching loads and investing in research is the answer.

Reverence for the mystery of the human person grounds the whole enterprise of Jesuit education, because Ignatian educators also believe that it opens out into a larger mystery that Jesuits, at least, call God.

Too often, however, both the diagnosed problem and the silver bullet become fixations that reflect an assortment of ego needs rather than a commitment to a shared vision. Scott Cowen, the former president of Tulane University, tells the story of a winning football coach renegotiating his contract. It was not more money the coach wanted, but, as Cowen titled his book, “Winnebagos on Wednesdays.” In other words, he wanted the hype that would bring hordes of tailgaters to campus midweek to wait for a Saturday game.

To Cowen, the incident reveals how often institutional tails want to wag the institutional dog. Private interests crowd out commitment to a common good. Whether it is a football program, the ideas of a business entrepreneur, the narrow interests of a scholar or the institutional ambition of a prominent alum, too often we undertake change without considering the real question: What is the ultimate purpose of higher education? In default of leadership that drives a consensus on that question, we are rudderless amid the waves of the dystopias and utopias we privately conjure up.

A Sense of Urgency: A Care for Souls

If narratives of fear sell, our counter-narrative must be one of moral urgency.

At about the time students entering college this fall were born, the then-superior general of the Society of Jesus, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, stressed a central tension that faces Jesuit colleges and universities. In an oft-quoted lecture he gave at Santa Clara University in 2000, he pointed out the market pressures colleges and universities are under. Students (and their parents!) want to learn the technical and professional skills they will need to succeed in a rapidly changing economy. On the other hand, they also want and deserve more than “worldly success.”

Father Kolvenbach argued that the purpose and measure of our universities lies in who our students become. Obviously most schools are interested in who their students become, but there are deeper resonances in his speech. Underlying his claim is a tacit acknowledgement of a religious conviction that has motivated Jesuit education from the beginning: that a human person is fundamentally a living, incarnate and unrepeatable mystery.

To St. Ignatius, a human person is constantly being created by God in the concrete decisions, desires and relationships in which we enact our freedom. An educator encounters this mystery every time a young person wonders what he or she should do in life, or how to relate socially to others. When we attend to this mystery, we are fulfilling what St. Ignatius saw as a chief purpose of the Society of Jesus itself: a care for souls.

Reverence for the mystery of the human person grounds the whole enterprise of Jesuit education, because Ignatian educators also believe that it opens out into a larger mystery that Jesuits, at least, call God. We do not presume that every one of our students or colleagues will use theological language or self-identify as religious. We often defer, therefore, to more neutral shorthand phrases like “whole persons,” which suggest that our students are constellations of capacities that far exceed their ability to contain the knowledge or skill sets we may wish to upload into them at any given moment.

Those who follow the tradition of St. Ignatius also wager that if we support and challenge a young person to develop as a “whole person,” we will be cultivating leaders for the future well-being of the world. Again, we tend to use words like justice or solidarity or persons for others to communicate our belief that education must ultimately contribute to the broader good of humankind.

The purpose of Jesuit higher education in the United States cannot simply be to stay in business.

As a result of this vision, however, the educational enterprise is conceived as something sacrosanct. And while the institutional context of that enterprise is contentious and does in fact require innovation, smart decisions and sustainable business models, the purpose of Jesuit higher education in the United States cannot simply be to stay in business.

It must continually reaffirm its commitment to the foundational vision of what a person is. It must create conditions where it is less likely that human identity can be digitized and transferred into other bodies—like what we see in “Altered Carbon,” where what we know as humanity, in any meaningful sense, has vanished.

Anyone who has seen the isolation, mistrust and anxiety of many otherwise healthy young people will recognize there is a greater sense of urgency than we might think.

Renewing an Academic Vision

Jesuit colleges and universities clearly have to adapt to new conditions to fulfill their mission. Father Kolvenbach noted that what “whole persons” need in the 21st century is different from what they needed in the Counter-Reformation, Industrial Revolution or even the 20th century. We need constantly to renew an academic vision that speaks to our times, even as it insists on values that will not pass away.

A recent book by the president of Northeastern University, Joseph E. Aoun, sets out a framework that may be usefully adapted to the basic premises of Jesuit education. Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence begins with a recent survey of the worst fears of the U.S. public. After terrorism and a nuclear attack, Americans list technology as what they fear most. Specifically, by 7 percentage points, we fear robots replacing us at work more than death itself.

Report after report grounds that fear, such as the McKinsey study in 2015 that suggested 45 percent of the work humans now do could be replaced by automation simply by adapting current technologies. A report in 2016 on “The Future of Jobs,” by the World Economic Forum, projected that 65 percent of children now entering elementary school will end up working in jobs that do not now exist.

We need to give our students ownership over their futures and support them, not just in the years when they are in school, but over the long haul.

The implications for higher education are significant, but for Dr. Aoun this picture of the future should stimulate us to reimagine our work and renew our academic vision, not to react in panic or defensiveness. The challenge is to pursue what humans can do and artificial intelligence cannot. The call is to give our students ownership over their futures and support them, not just in the years when they are in school, but over the long haul. The task is to support and nurture human creativity, since the ability to be creative (as opposed to processing information quickly, which machines will always do better) will be the key driver of economic activity in the future.

In the face of the burgeoning field of robotics, Dr. Aoun coins a new discipline, “humanics,” with the goal “to nurture our species’ unique traits of creativity and flexibility.” That goal is hardly novel. The Jesuit ideal of eloquentia perfecta is the rhetorical capacity to adapt a message to a particular audience in such a way as to create new forms of understanding and relationship. What Dr. Aoun calls “human literacy” has long been part of the Jesuit tradition, and it has always been supplemented with other forms of literacy, most recently those related to data and technology. Moreover, in recent years Jesuit colleges and universities have fostered active experiential learning, which emphasizes global engagement and the ability to operate in different cultural contexts.

Jesuit colleges and universities may need to make a stronger case for themselves by more clearly aligning academic programing with perceived career relevance. As a classicist, I feel deep sympathy with those who worry about a utilitarian impulse that regards education as nothing more than a commodity. We must strongly resist that trend. And yet if we are not able to alleviate the fears of those we ask for a major tuition investment (or if we, out of a sense of superiority, shame those who are worried about getting a job), we risk losing the public trust forever.

As a classicist, I feel deep sympathy with those who worry about a utilitarian impulse that regards education as nothing more than a commodity.

Character and Community

Even an academic vision that prepares our students for any career in any economy would not fulfill the mission of a Jesuit university if it did not advance its core ethical responsibility to the world. In classical terms, the foundation of ethics is a conception of what counts as a good life and a commitment to the habits that lead to it. If we are anxious about the various dystopian scenarios that could play out, the best way to address our fear is to prepare to make good choices now. And the best way to learn how is in a community where the formation of character may be discussed and where examples of character may be encountered.

In his popular book The Road to Character, the New York Times columnist David Brooks laments that “[m]ost of us have clearer strategies for how to achieve career success than we do for how to develop a profound character.” Because it derives from a care for souls, a Jesuit education, by contrast, has multiple strategies for developing character. Although academics are often reticent to make strong normative claims about what constitutes good character, many faculty and staff members at Jesuit institutions are moved and indeed liberated by the ethos that continues to situate intellectual excellence within the larger context of personal development.

To be a person of character is to understand oneself as being in relationship with others. Our identity is formed within a wide network of fellows, from parents to siblings to spouses and children and friends and co-workers. Aristotle said we are by nature social animals, and that therefore a person without a community is either subhuman or above humanity. Even though we often think of ourselves as rational individuals and of our choices as private, the truth is our moral actions and our own flourishing take place within a web of relationships.

The 20th-century political theorist Hannah Arendt was stripped of her German citizenship after fleeing the Nazi regime and spent 18 years stateless. Famously, she remarked that “the world found nothing sacred in the abstract nakedness of being human.” She observed that it is only the apparently random grace of friendship and personal sympathy that guarantees the human rights of another. Even in an age of anxiety, we must not see academic institutions as mere engines for producing degrees. Moral agency develops in actual communities that assure us (as Arendt stressed): “I want you to be.” Building community is complicated, time-consuming and expensive. Still, it remains a crucial investment.

The Magis and Hard Decisions

The use of Jesuit lingo has become a common practice in the branding of high schools, colleges and universities founded by the Society of Jesus. I would be surprised, for instance, if a single Jesuit institution did not have some reference to the magis in its programming or marketing efforts. In a single word the term can inspire the widest set of ambitions. A Latin adverb meaning “more,” magis reminds us of the aspirational quality of the Olympics motto (“faster, higher, stronger”) but without reference to any particular action or substance; it is simply “more.” The website of one Jesuit institution explains that it is about “doing more, being more, and achieving more than originally thought possible.”

Maybe. But I suspect St. Ignatius would cringe. In his Spiritual Exercises Ignatius sets out the principle according to which all choices shall be made. Our purpose as humans is to “praise, reverence, and serve God, and by this means to save our soul.” Everything else, he says, is to be used insofar as it leads to the fulfillment of this purpose. Therefore, we should not favor a long life instead of a short one, honor instead of dishonor and so on. Rather, our whole desire “should be what is more conducive [magis...conducant] to the end for which we are created.”

What are the odds of Jesuit higher education surviving in America? I would wager that the odds are high, if good decisions are made now.

The idea of magis is not that of an uncontained “more” but is the criterion for making judicious choices and hard decisions in the face of limited, contingent goods. The question is what is “more conducive” to the end for which we are created. In the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, Ignatius follows a similar logic. Faced with a variety of requests for Jesuits to take up ministries, he proposes a set of criteria to determine the places to which they should be sent. He counsels that “one should keep the greater service of God and the more universal good before his eyes as the norm to hold oneself on the right course.” Again, the magis refers to the more universal good that would justify one choice over another.

In the years to come, Jesuit colleges and universities, as well as the Society of Jesus in the United States, will face difficult decisions. To the question posed by Father O’Hare 20 years ago (“What are the odds of Jesuit higher education surviving in America?”), I would wager that the odds are high, if good decisions are made now. I would not wager as much on all places’ surviving—either as institutions or as Jesuit institutions. The survival of these colleges and universities will depend on their capacity to adapt to changing conditions in a timely fashion. Their survival as Jesuit institutions will depend on how deeply boards and faculties truly understand and are committed to a very distinctive mission. Both will depend on the openness of new, different and probably smaller pools of students and their families to invest in our vision.

To the extent that the Society of Jesus faces decisions on whether to stay committed to institutions and where to focus its own limited resources, my hope is that Jesuit leadership—together with rank-and-file Jesuits and their committed colleagues—have the freedom to discern carefully what, among many possibilities, is “more conducive” to the end for which the Society of Jesus was called into being. And to act with boldness and courage.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Tim Donovan
2 months 3 weeks ago

I didn't graduate from a Jesuit college, but from Cabrini College in suburban Philadelphia, sponsored by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. I received an excellent academic education, but in my view received a poor education in our faith. Dissent from authentic Church teaching among professors was common. I support academic freedom, but I believe that such freedom isn't without limits. I agree both that Jesuit (and all Catholic colleges) must prepare students not only for careers and new technology but also for learning values based on the teachings of Jesus as interpreted by the Church. While it's important that Jesuit and other Catholic colleges remain open for preparing students for their careers, I think it's likely that some Jesuit and other Catholic colleges will close. I'm sorry to say that in some cases, this may be for the best. When a Catholic college (regardless of who sponsors it, Jesuits or another order) fails to form students in ethical values in accord with the authentic teachings of Jesus as interpreted by the Church, such a college is failing in its mission.

Mike Macrie
2 months 3 weeks ago

I’m sure some will survive maybe long enough to see needed Change in the Catholic Church to occur. Let’s face reality it cost $10,000 year to attend an average Catholic School. It costs $15,000 per year with assistance to attend a Jesuit High School. We are talking about people of means in choosing a Jesuit High School. With the economic situation of low paying jobs what Middle Class Catholics can afford to attend a Jesuit High School not just alone a Catholic High School.
Then we have the failed leadership of the American Conference of Bishops and I’m not just talking about the sex scandals. Bishops have lost their zeal to be Missionaries in the Church. They waste their efforts in politics in both government and among themselves in their delusional self importance. The Cardinals and Bishops fight among themselves and some even fight against their Pope. This is the example they set for future students of “self importance”.
The future of Jesuit High Schools begs this question. Why aren’t Catholic High School Students attending Sunday Mass ? Just look around the pews and ask where are the teenagers? Why are they going to a Catholic School if they don’t even attend Mass on a weekly basis ? Catholic Students attending public high schools well forget it. The American Bishops have failed as Missionaries not only for Catholic Schools but also reaching out to Catholic Students in Public Schools.

Kevin Murphy
2 months 3 weeks ago

Considering the state of Jesuit education and "Ignatian Spirituality," I wouldn't mourn it's passing.

Dionys Murphy
2 months 3 weeks ago

Considering the basic ignorance of such a statement, that's ironic.

John Walton
2 months 3 weeks ago

"Winnebago Wednesdays". It was only a bit over ten years after Fordham abandoned "big-time" football that the University found itself in financial distress. In the mid 1930's a group of prominent New Yorkers begged Fordham to reopen the medical school as Columbia Med refused to take Jewish refugees from Germany. While I applaud application of "The Exercises" to one's life, I wonder if the Jesuits of this century aren't somehow lacking in the application of Ignatius' personal skill in marketing and organization which characterized his early "milites", allowing him to lever the resources of his lay followers to build the Society.

clara albert
2 months 3 weeks ago

During this week, we have experienced any other level inside the long adventure of discernment approximately prevalent apostolic choices. We thank the Lord for having accompanied us on this journey and supported us in our look for novelty, so regularly added with the aid of the freshness and enthusiasm of our partners inside the shared project. we have attempted to look at the present human tale with the eyes of the Crucified-Resurrected.
https://www.prohomeworkhelp.com

Zara Brown
2 months 3 weeks ago

This is very effective concept about our education system. Really these uncertain future jesuit education are being affected to new generation, I hate these type education system because its very harmful to our nation. I much value these article and also appreciated to the author for point out this important side of our education. Anyway, I am zara, an professional writer and guest blogger. Now I am working as a freelance writer at a famous writing services company Edubirdy. You may also follow our most popular social page edubirdie.com reddit. We have world biggest writers community and they are all incredibly talented in these writing field. In this company I am specially providing educational related writing like assignment writing, essay writing, scholarship writing and others kind of academic related writing service for students. I love to teaching many students for enhancing their academic writing skill. It will helps lot for their academic writing solution. Thank you.!

JOHN GRONDELSKI
2 months 3 weeks ago

With all due respect, this article explains why Jesuit education is in a death spiral, and I say that as a graduate of Fordham. Even in my own day, the presence of Jesuit faculty was minimal outside of my own department (theology) and philosophy; too many Jesuits who should have been entering teaching in the 1980s were discovering vocations in soup kitchens. Today, even Fordham's Theology and Philosophy Departments have token Jesuit presences, and I frankly would not attend a university where the majority of a CATHOLIC THEOLOGY faculty obtained their terminal degrees at non-Catholic institutions. Even in my own day, Jesuits began the glib contortion of a "university in the Jesuit tradition," because it's pretty hard to argue that an institution remains Jesuit when the padres who can be counted are mostly in the retirement home. Now, this article suggests the next move: the Society will determine what its next calling is vis-a-vis education. Honestly, I am not sure Jesuits themselves know what their "distinctive mission" is, but if it is the Catholic-Lite that I have observed in almost 40 years of higher education, this moral theologian would make a strong case for pulling the extraordinary means to preserve that "life."

Phillip Stone
2 months 3 weeks ago

Sixty years ago we had Jesuit schools and non-Jesuit Catholic schools and a small number of Protestant elite high schools and public schools.
Rich people's kids went to the Jesuit and elite high schools, called themselves GPS and deemed themselves the elite in emulation of Eton and Harrow in UK. It is so to this day.

Our GPS school are not in any way known to produce alumni of great virtue and leadership, often it has been quite to the contrary.

I note that Jesuit websites boast about their emphasis on current topical issues, and that they are as deceived as the rest.

I instance a couple. They seem to teach dangerous human caused global warming as a core moral issue despite it being a hoax and the solutions posed hurting the poor and holding back the less developed world.
They teach Darwinian conjecture as gospel, thereby contradicting the Word of God and modern biological science.
They seem to have bought into the political correctness nonsense which is diametrically opposed to the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius where human nature and psychology are concerned.
Human rights seem to have replaced the destitute state of fallen human nature as core anthropology

Neither the community of the faithful nor the world at large would be any the worse off if the Jesuits were simply sold up and closed down. Alternatively, drastic reform might make their continuing existence worthwhile.

I suggest the Exercises contain much hidden and ignored wisdom and might usefully be used as the template for scrutiny of all modern corruptions which have crept into the "educated" class.

Dionys Murphy
2 months 3 weeks ago

"They seem to teach dangerous human caused global warming as a core moral issue despite" -- They teach the science of global climate change as it will impact the lives of billions in the years to come. There is no hoax. It is accepted science.

"They teach Darwinian conjecture as gospel, thereby contradicting the Word of God and modern biological science." -- Evolution is not in conflict with the creation story in any way. In the 1950 encyclical Humani generis, Pope Pius XII confirmed that there is no intrinsic conflict between Christianity and the theory of evolution, provided that Christians believe that God created all things and that the individual soul is a direct creation by God and not the product of purely material forces. You should read more, posture less.

"Human rights seem to have replaced the destitute state" - Human rights are important.

"Neither the community of the faithful nor the world at large would be any the worse off if the Jesuits were simply sold up and closed down." -- You are deeply mistaken in this. Frankly, it smacks of the anti-intellectual garbage espoused by neo-evangelical Protestants who can barely read in English.

tomas wilson
2 months 3 weeks ago

Great piece on education.. though technology is ruining our children. education experts have warned. David Malson

William Hilton
2 months 3 weeks ago

Father Michael do you know my cousin William P. Leahy S.J? This was a refreshing read! Thank You!

Rachelle Goulding
2 months 3 weeks ago

It all depends on how healthy you Click2Assignment describe and pursue your goals. You should know what vocation you're aiming for and offer your work and extracurricular to that objective as much as possible.

Irene Baldwin
2 months 3 weeks ago

I went to Fordham and really valued my Jesuit education. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college, thanks to them. But I just had a terrible experience with my daughter applying to Santa Clara. She applied and was accepted early admission (the nonbinding one) to their engineering school. The financial aid package was really bad, the worst by far of any school she applied to :It met about 1/3 of her estimated need and was about 1/2 what their own net price calculator said her need based aid package would be. That was all fine; even though it was her first choice, we shrugged and moved on. She decided she would attend Macaulay Honors College here in NYC. But in mid-April, two weeks before the final acceptance deadline at all the schools, Santa Clara called her to go out there and compete with 25 other kids for a full tuition scholarship. She participated, got really excited about the school again, but didn't get the scholarship and still didn't have need based anywhere close to what would make it possible for her to attend. I thought it was just awful the school got her hopes up like that -at the very last minute- and then shot them down. She's completely thrilled with Macaulay , and I think she dodged a bullet; better she not go to Santa Clara, after all that. But it kind of put me off Jesuit Education.

Gef Flimlin
2 months 3 weeks ago

Having spent 8 years with the Jesuits at a Prep school and College, one of outstanding things about the high school experience was the number of Jesuits who taught in various subjects. In my biology and chemistry classes in college, the Jesuits were mostly the teachers. My education was wonderful and perhaps I was instilled with Jesuit concepts that were never really said as part of the course of study, but the concept of helping others carried on into my profession. I spent 38 years working with commercial fishermen and shellfish farmers, and I can tell you that Jesus had his work cut out for himself by choosing fishermen to talk to starting his public time. They are not easily convinced of much, but when they are, they are with you all the way. My career focused on them being economically successful and being environmentally sound. Did this come from the Jesuits? Perhaps, or maybe it was just the way I was made. But now when I look at the faculty at my Prep school, I see very few Jesuit priests or scholastics. So how can you have a Jesuitical education without Jesuits?

Gef Flimlin
2 months 3 weeks ago

Having spent 8 years with the Jesuits at a Prep school and College, one of outstanding things about the high school experience was the number of Jesuits who taught in various subjects. In my biology and chemistry classes in college, the Jesuits were mostly the teachers. My education was wonderful and perhaps I was instilled with Jesuit concepts that were never really said as part of the course of study, but the concept of helping others carried on into my profession. I spent 38 years working with commercial fishermen and shellfish farmers, and I can tell you that Jesus had his work cut out for himself by choosing fishermen to talk to starting his public time. They are not easily convinced of much, but when they are, they are with you all the way. My career focused on them being economically successful and being environmentally sound. Did this come from the Jesuits? Perhaps, or maybe it was just the way I was made. But now when I look at the faculty at my Prep school, I see very few Jesuit priests or scholastics. So how can you have a Jesuitical education without Jesuits?

Stefan Svilich
2 months 2 weeks ago

An exorbitant price tag & whack-job liberalism; what's not to like?

Frank Gibbons
2 months 2 weeks ago

I Write this as a father of two Fordham graduates.
This is the future of Jesuit education:
"Look at thus chorus of entitled white men justifying a serial rapist’s arrogated entitlement.
All of them deserve miserable deaths while feminists laugh as they take their last gasps. Bonus: we castrate their corpses and feed them to swine? Yes." C. Christine Fair.
Georgetown courageously responded "Georgetown University said in a statement to The Daily Caller that they respect Fair’s right to freedom of speech but also expect her to keep her classrooms “free of bias.”

Fair only has 3 reviews on "RateMyProfessors". The reviews were all written long before the Kavanaugh hearings. All three reviews give Fair the lowest grade - 1.0. Here are the comments:

"There is no discussion, questioning, or debate in her class. You must simply sit and listen to her opinions which are frequently incoherent and disjointed. Worse, her lectures are never supported, just presented as unvarnished dogma. This is not what Georgetown is about. This is not even what a marginal college education is about. AVOID."

"It's a little hard to get past the professor's POV to focus on material related to class. She takes a "my way or the highway" approach toward opinions. If you take this class, please pretend to be a politically correct liberal. Otherwise, you are in big trouble with this uncritical, unfair hothead."

"Tends to go off on tangents and rant. As a student from the Middle East I sometimes felt uncomfortable with some of her views and discussions. Do NOT challenge her point of view as I did -- I wound up dropping the class because of it. Would have been a good class if she stuck to the course material.

So, Christine Fair is very biased in class. She has publicly harassed another Georgetown professor for daring to vote for Trump.

The future of Jesuit education is biased, ideological and dogmatics, bowing to the "prevailing orthodoxies" an "reigning protocols" of a post-Christian secular world.

alan macdonald
2 months 2 weeks ago

All you have to do to see the future of Jesuit education is to leaf through the pages of this magazine. The American Jesuits have strayed so far from Roman Catholic Orthodoxy, they sound like unsure Episcopalians. Their attendance and donations have gone off a cliff and the Jesuits are chasing after them.

Jim Mello
2 months 2 weeks ago

The reflections and guidance contained in the article could not have hit any harder or more timely. As an experienced administrator in Catholic higher education having worked at multiple institutions and many different sponsoring religious orders (including the Jesuits), our shared focus on the development of the human person and a deep understanding of our distinct purpose is a common thread of engagement and learning. Institutions that embrace that work will sustain as no technology can replace the fundamental longings of the human heart. Let us all act with boldness and courage.

Advertisement

The latest from america

In his World Day of Peace message, Pope Francis warned against the vices that are too often linked to politics today and do not build peace in society.
Gerard O’ConnellDecember 18, 2018
The request is a clear indication that children, not the reputation of the church, will be the paramount concern at this meeting.
Gerard O’ConnellDecember 18, 2018
As today’s Gospel suggests, righteousness is no guarantee of a smooth life.
Elizabeth Kirkland CahillDecember 18, 2018
The very best television is like an Ignatian contemplation: It tells stories that offer us some kind of gift—an insight or encouragement for our lives.
Jim McDermottDecember 18, 2018