The ‘Great Divide’

INSIDEHIGHERED.COM, Nov. 20 — Students and instructors of introductory religious courses have strikingly different priorities.

According to a study conducted by Barbara Walvoord of the University of Notre Dame, most students in such courses want to develop their religious beliefs and their moral and ethical values. The study found that more than 70% of students at religious schools and more than 50% of students at secular colleges had those priorities.

A much smaller percentage of instructors of introductory college courses in religion and theology share those priorities. Only 42% of faculty at religious colleges and just 8% of those at secular colleges regard the development of students’ religious beliefs as a key objective.

Instead, the faculty members identified development of their students’ critical thinking as their top priority.

Discussing her findings at a presentation Nov. 19 to the American Academy of Religion, Walvoord characterized the student-instructor priority gap as a “great divide.”

Theology Major on Tap

MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY, Nov. 14 — Starting next fall, Marquette will offer a new major in Catholic theology.

The course will replace an existing teaching major in religious studies and will focus on providing theological training for Catholic school teachers.

In a press release announcing the new major, Marquette noted that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops published a new edition of the National Directory for Catechesis in 2003. The directory called on Catholic colleges and universities to develop theological education programs for instructors of Catholic youth.

The program was developed in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Jesuit Father John Laurance, chairman of Marquette’s theology department, said, “Our program addresses an urgent need for improved theological and religious education that has been identified in the last decade or so.”

Evolution Wins in Ohio

CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, Nov. 13 — Three candidates who support teaching evolution in Ohio public schools were elected to the state’s 17-member Board of Education in the Nov. 7 elections.

They defeated candidates who advocated teaching alternatives to the theory of evolution.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the winning pro-evolution candidates were supported by a statewide coalition that included 75 faculty members at Case Western Reserve University.

DePaul ‘Outed’

DEPAUL UNIVERSITYDePaul University will host the 2007 “Out There” conference for professors, staff and students involved with “queer studies” programs on Catholic campuses.

Earlier this year, the Vincentian university inaugurated a controversial minor degree program in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Studies.

In a Nov. 6 press release, Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick Reilly said, “Unfortunately, DePaul University and the ‘Out There’ conference organizers seem intent on celebrating homosexuality without offering genuine support and healing to students who struggle with same-sex attraction.”

Georgetown to Oxford

RHODESSCHOLAR.ORG, Nov. 18 — Georgetown University graduate Maria Repnikova is one of 32 American winners of the 2007 Rhodes Scholarship.

Repnikova majored in international politics at Georgetown. She is spending this year in China on a Fulbright Scholarship, researching Chinese migration to Russia.

At Oxford, Repnikova plans to pursue an advanced degree in migration studies.