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Lecture offers new vision for higher education

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David Gonzalez
LV Life Editor

Professor Emeritus of Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University John Cobb talked about the difference between the intellectual university and the scholarly university and his dream for what the nature of education should be at the annual Fasnacht Lecture Wednesday.

Cobb said that the scholarly world is more research-based, and that the intellectual university is more student-oriented.

Cobb called for the return to the liberal arts and intellectual university system as they help bring up society’s future leaders.

Colleges today are more research based, and if students spent their college years reading the most influential books ever written, they would have a completely different type of education, Cobb said.

“Excellence is now defined by a kind of activity that only a few schools should do,” Cobb said. “It means you are giving up on student-centered education, you’re really giving up on education which is the purpose of benefiting society. You’re giving up on education for the purpose of saving the world.”

While these academic disciplines are great at increasing factual knowledge in the separate factions of thought, the academic disciplines should not overpower the liberal arts, Cobb said.

“Academic disciplines have become so much the root that a lot of people can’t imagine any other way to organize a college curriculum except in terms of academic discipline,” Cobb said.

“I’m not saying one is good or one is bad, it is just recognizing one is different,” Cobb said.

“As long as academic disciplines study their own history they do some thinking about themselves but for the most part they have given up studying of their own history,” Cobb said. “They just power head without any overviews of what they are, who they are or what they came from.”

The main reason for going to a liberal arts college was to develop your own personality and give leadership to society, Cobb said.

He said that it is important to ask the question of what students need from a college education when designing the curriculum.

Cobb said that the one thing colleges and universities do not study is the transformation that can happen through student-oriented curriculum.

“I actually hope to accomplish to make colleges and universities more reflective about what they’re doing,” Cobb said.

Richard Rose, professor of religion and philosophy, announced that the University of La Verne has legally entered a community engagement program with the Claremont Institute for Process Studies.

The Claremont Institute for Process Studies, developed in 2019 as a non-profit corporation, works to promote and encourage a process-relational worldview.

This includes the principles of interconnection, change and intrinsic value, in an end goal to advance the common good. These goals will be achieved through educational outreach, collaboration with like-minded associations and people, promotion of ideas, understandings, and means of effective implementation.

“The partnership between the University of La Verne and the Claremont Institute for Process Studies has been in the making for a long, long time,” Rose said.

Cobb said that this partnership is important because as institutes of higher education it is important to make human connections, not just legal ones.

Al Clark, professor of humanities, said that the learning of the intellectual universities and the scholarly universities was interesting because institutions usually only emphasize the scholarly atmosphere.

“I am proud of the fact that the University emphasizes values even though it teaches its students largely within disciplines, but includes a very strong amount of general education,” Clark said.

Renee Barnes, senior religion and philosophy major, said that Cobb’s lecture resonated with what she is trying to do in the Christian community.

“We are trying to create a system by which we are community-oriented to bring us to a better understanding of what we are here to do and how to incorporate everyone,” Barnes said.

Cobb was the first in the history of the Fasnacht Lecture series to be invited back to give a second lecture.

David Gonzalez can be reached at

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