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Students Search for Meaning

According to Yale University law professor Anthony Kronman, students who begin their college careers today suffer from one glaring omission in their studies. Nowhere will they study the meaning of life. American colleges have so embraced a research-driven model of scholarship that metaphysical interests, once the subject matter of the humanities, have been all but eliminated from higher education. Because students are unable to wrestle with critical questions in the university setting, the issues are left "in the hands of those motivated by religious convictions," a prospect Kronman considers "disturbing and dangerous."

What Kronman finds encouraging is that students are exhibiting a "growing hunger" to explore "questions of spiritual urgency." What incoming students want are "courses that address the big questions of life, in all their sprawling grandeur, without reticence or embarrassment." What they will find, however, is that educators have "ceased to think of themselves as shapers of souls."

Dr. Kronman proposes that universities provide a new approach to the question of human purpose that "speaks to the subject in a conversation broader than any church alone can conduct…without pretending to answer in a doctrinaire way." Kronman declares, "Our culture may be spiritually impoverished, but what it needs is not more religion. What it needs is an alternative to religion, for universities to become again the places they once were—spiritually serious but non-dogmatic, concerned with the soul, but agnostic about God."

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