Reaping the Fruits of Fidelity
Burley Coulter is a wayward individual who, because he responded to the needs of his community, can say at the end of his life that he has been faithful. Perhaps universities, by seeking to meet the needs of their places, can produce students who will settle down after they graduate and work to serve the places where they find themselves. For educational institutions to be faithful members of their places, faculty members and students need to identify and resist the powerful forces that foster the abstract, displaced knowledge favored by cosmopolitans. Berry proposes local or parochial knowledge as a counterweight to the commodifiable, centralized knowledge valued in contemporary universities. Training students to faithfully attend to the needs of their local places does not mean that they should become insular and ignore knowledge and ideas from other places. Rather, faithful care of local places depends on maintaining a robust conversation between parochial communities and the cosmopolitan knowledge favored by universities. Students can study abroad with an eye toward bringing what they learn home, teachers can incorporate local knowledge into their curricula, and university administrators can place a priority on charging lower tuition.
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