Saved by Technology?
Since human beings like us first emerged, some 200,000 years ago, they have used their distinctively large brains to manipulate and change the world around them. They have been tool-makers and tool-users. Recently, however, the rate of the resulting technological advance has been astonishing: the digital world is now an inseparable part of the so-called real world; technology is even transforming the way we understand what it means to be human.
What do these changes, and their likely future developments, mean for the world of higher education in general and Anglican-founded universities and colleges in particular? Is face-to-face interaction any longer essential to good education? Might artificial intelligence supersede the human lecturer, at least in part? Is there a difference between access to knowledge and growth in understanding? Can relationships forged through shared physical space be equally well served by social media? And in all this, what might be lost and what gained?
Our next Triennial Conference in London aims to tackle these questions and more. Our panel of keynote speakers, including: Prof Tim Wu (USA); Dr Karen O’Donnell (UK); Dr Christianna Singh (India); and Prof Timothy Wheeler (UK) will provide the background we need for us to form our own views on the matter as we converse together.
Emerging technology promises to open the possibility of higher education to those who have lacked access before. But how might we avoid the accompanying danger that, in the process, education – especially Christian education - becomes something other, something thinner, than the best we can offer?
The Revd Jeremy Law, DPhil
Dean of Chapel, Canterbury Christ Church University
CUAC Distinguished Fellow
Whitelands College, University of Roehampton, London
The Head of College writes:
Whitelands is the oldest of four constituent colleges that make up the University of Roehampton. We were established by the National Society of the Church of England in 1841, to train teachers for Church schools. We were the first institution in the UK to provide higher education for women. By the last decades of the 19th century, Whitelands was rated as one of the foremost female teachers’ training colleges in the country. It became co-educational in the 1960s.
The great art critic and social commentator, John Ruskin, was a close friend of Whitelands until his death in 1900. Every year he gave the college copies of his numerous books, along with teaching materials such as botanical and geological specimens. Through Ruskin’s personal influence, the Arts and Crafts pioneer, William Morris, made a magnificent altar frontal for the College chapel, which will be on display during the conference. Sir Edward Burne-Jones, the foremost stained-glass artist of his day, created 15 windows portraying female saints, which can be seen in the main building, Parkstead House.
Ruskin initiated the College’s May Day festival in 1881, at which the students elected a May Queen for the coming year. The ceremony has continued every year since then; last year, at our 139th May Day, our colleague, Bishop Prince Singh, installed Queen Abby as May Monarch.
The College has occupied three sites throughout our history; we moved to our present site, at Parkstead House, in 2004. Like the College, the site has an illustrious history, and is now classified Grade 1 by English Heritage. It was built around 1760 as a country house for the Earl of Bessborough. A century later, the property was acquired by the Jesuits, and renamed Manresa; for a century or so it was a training college for Roman Catholic priests. During that period, the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins served his novitiate here, and was ordained at the church just down the road. He later returned to Manresa as a lecturer.
Today, the College continues to celebrate its Anglican ethos, and has close links with the Diocese of Southwark and with local churches. We are home to two academic departments, Psychology and Life Sciences, and the Ministerial Theology programme. Some 350 students live on-site during term-time, and around a further 2,000 students commute from elsewhere.
Whitelands occupies some 14 acres of grounds, which I hope you will find time to explore during your stay. There are lovely views over Richmond Park, which offers delightful walks.
The LASAR Centre, based at Canterbury Christ Church University, conducts research and provides public seminars, workshops and resources exploring the relationships between science, religion and other disciplines in education. The workshops explore Big Questions to do with meaning, purpose and the nature of reality and also the strengths, relevance and limitations of various disciplines. Research projects seek to understand and inform the way that questions bridging science and religion are managed in educational institutions.
Dean of Spiritual Life and Chaplain, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, former Chaplain at Saint Augustine's University, Raleigh, earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from NC State University and her M.Div. and from Duke Divinity School, now makes interfaith connections at HWS. As an active member of the Association of Episcopal Colleges (AEC), Byrd participated in the planning committee for its “Ethics and Social Media Students' Conference.” She is returning to her third Triennial.
Dean at the Theological School at Trinity College (Melbourne, Australia) since 2019. Prior to Trinity, Bob was President of Thorneloe Unviersity in Sudbury, Canada. He is a New Testament scholar with particular interest in Greco-Roman literary cultures and ancient media technologies. Bob has been on the Board of Trustees for CUAC since 2011 and Chair since 2014.
Vice-Chancellor, University of Roehampton. Jean-Noël was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of Roehampton in May 2019. His research expertise is in systems and processes management with a focus on the social aspect of information systems management (including information security). Jean-Noël is a board member for the National Centre for Universities and Business.
Before being appointed Head in 2012, Mark held academic posts in applied linguistics at universities in Australia, Indonesia, and Scotland. He has published extensively on topics including language teaching, discourse analysis, and emergency communication. He graduated with M Theol from the University of Aberdeen, and was ordained to the priesthood in the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Dean of Chapel at Canterbury Christ Church University. Following a first degree and postgraduate work in geology, he read theology as part of his ordination training and subsequently completed an Oxford DPhil on the theology of Jürgen Moltmann. His published work includes reflections of the purpose of Education and the theology of human evolution. He is a Distinguished Fellow of CUAC.
Coordinator of the Centre for Contemporary Spirituality at Sarum College, Salisbury, UK. She is a feminist, ecumenical, practical theologian whose interdisciplinary research interests span theology, spirituality, and pedagogy. She is author of Digital Theology: Constructing Theology for a Digital Age (forthcoming, 2019).
Principal of Lady Doak College in Madurai, India and is a strong proponent of the use of teaching and learning with technology within higher education. She completed her doctoral degree in Economics at Madurai Kamaraj University, with specialization in Gender Economics. Dr Singh is also a former United Board Scholar and has also undergone Advanced Leadership Training at the Haggai Institute, USA (Hawaii).
Anglican Chaplain Canterbury Christ Church UniversityDavid was ordained in 2004 and after serving his curacy in Portsmouth diocese took up a post as Mission and Outreach chaplain at Canterbury Christ Church University. In 2014 David became Senior Chaplain at the same institution. As an academic David Lectures in Education and Practical and Pastoral Theology. He is a keen walker and cyclist and enjoys real ale and going to the cinema.
105th Archbishop of Canterbury, He was ordained in 1992 after an 11-year career in the oil industry. He spent his first 15 years serving in Coventry diocese, latterly as a Canon of Coventry Cathedral where he jointly led its international reconciliation workextensively in Africa and the Middle East; he has had a passion for reconciliation and peace-making ever since. He has been CUAC’s patron since becoming Archbishop.
Martin was ordained in 1972 and his varied ministry in the Church of England has included serving in parishes, on the staff of a theological college, a cathedral, as Bishop of Kingston and then, until retirement, Bishop of Newcastle. He has a lifelong interest in higher education and has been Chair of the Governing Body of Whitelands College and of St Chads College in Durham. He has attended every CUAC triennial conference so far.
Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Chester. He holds a doctorate in psychology and has enjoyed a long and varied academic career, including work in academic and industrial consultancies. He has published over 120 articles, books and research reports in a diverse range of areas including psychopharmacology, dyslexia, communications and safety. He is a Deputy Lieutenant for Cheshire and is actively involved with Chester Cathedral.
Julius Silver Professor of Law, Science and Technology at Columbia Universityin New York, and a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. He is best known for his work on Net Neutrality theory. He is author of the influential article “Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination”(2003) and a number of significant books including: The Master Switch (2012), The Attention Merchants (2017) and The Curse of Bigness (2018). In 2017 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.