President Speaks on the Adventist Advantage

By Lainey S. Cronk on October 5, 2009

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In the second all-school colloquy of the year, new Pacific Union College president Heather Knight spoke on the topic of "Integrating Faith and Learning: A Higher Education Imperative." The theme of integrating faith and learning is one that will carry through the year for the weekly colloquies, and Knight addressed the shift, beginning in 2005, that has been pushing higher education to look at this area once again.

"2005 was indeed a watershed year in terms of a renewed interest in religion and spirituality in higher education," she told the gathered campus, citing many books, projects and studies addressing students' quest for meaning and purpose, religious literacy, ground rules for civic discourse on matters of religion, and how higher education should respond. After many years of modernization, secularization, emphasis on scientific inquiry and technical approaches, followed by a postmodern trend to "dismantle the values that sustain religious belief," Knight explains that higher education is finally "coming around to affirming its historic roots."

But, she asked, what does this mean for PUC? "I believe that this new interest and call to action in regard to the integration of faith and learning provides us with multiple opportunities to showcase what we have been doing so very well for so many years," Knight said. She explained a platform she's been developing, which she calls "the Adventist Advantage." This platform is one way to answer the question, "What is the value added of being Seventh-day Adventist in a contemporary world marked by complexity and confusion?"

The seven points of her platform are meaning and purpose found by a connection with Christ as our personal savior; health, wellness, and a wholesome lifestyle; education, caring about the life of the mind and lifelong learning; ethics and morals; generous service; diversity; and stewardship of the earth, which is tied to the Sabbath.

As higher education in general looks again to aspects of faith, spirituality, and meaning, Knight told PUC that she wants the college to continue the heritage and principles it has held all along: "I want us to think about maintaining intentionally our faith, maintaining intentionally our Adventist identity, and maintaining intentionally the Adventist Advantage."