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Spirituality and Higher Education, by Arthur Zajonc. From a presentation given at the April 18-20, 2002 Meeting of the American Association of Colleges and Universities on "Spirituality and Learning: Refining Meaning, Value and Inclusion in Higher Education, San Francisco.

Visiting Paris first in 1245-48 while a student of Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas listened not only to the teachings of orthodox masters at the cathedral school of Notre Dame de Paris, but like so many others he went as well to heterodox lectures offered in the famous rue du Fouarre, or "street of straw," as Dante called it, that ran beside St. Julien le Pauvre on the Left Bank in the Latin Quarter. We can imagine the young Thomas seated in the straw-strewn street, where teachers and students discussed the forbidden tenents of Greek philosophy in the shadows of the great cathedral school of Paris. Thomas himself would later teach in Paris adn compose his synthesis of Christian theology and secular Greek philosophy, which ironically was roundly condemned for a time. During precisely this period the Western university emerged from the womb of the cathedral schools of Europe, and the new institutions owed much to the heretical open-air disputations that took place in the street of straw. Caught between the powerful forces of dogmatic Christian theology and the newly recovered secular philosophy of Aristotle, it required figures such as Aquinas to propose a plausible resolution to the so-called Scholastic Controversy.

Today we find ourselves at the onset of a "controversy" concerning the place of spirituality in our now mature secular college and university system that is similar to the that of the 13th century.

You can download the entire text of this paper in word format or download it as a powerpoint presentation.


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