Letter to the Editor

By: Kevin Daley

Editor Emeritus

Pope Francis’s encyclical letter Laudato si’ treats the “persistent storm of change and challenge” in higher education described by President Hurley in his convocation address of Sept. 9. As the College continues its strategic planning, the Holy Father’s exhortations remain salient.

The substance of the encyclical critiques not capitalism nor ecological practices, but the abandonment of a theocentric orientation, and the full commitment of mankind to the technological project. The displacement of God by praxis and science has, in the Pope’s view, engendered a Promethean culture, a dictatorship of scientific method which aspires to the subjugation of nature, the triumph of humanism, and the distillation of the vast glory of human knowledge into data points for the emerging global technocracy.

The attendant problems the scientific culture creates (wealth disparities, environmental catastrophe, How I Met Your Mother) must be rectified by a profound cultural realignment. In this endeavor, a major pedagogical correction is required, imagined by the Pope in the closing sections of his encyclical. His meditation on “integral ecology” compels us to ensure that our own Canisius College remains stalwart in its commitment to liberal education. The temptation to emphasize outcomes, value, and assessment (as the nomenclature en vogue at Canisius suggests) begets campus practices which tend toward an instrumentalist method of education abetting the techno-scientific consensus — divorcing student life from academic life, pre-professional programs from the core, research from teaching, and a gargantuan administrative apparatus from its partners in governance aids the compartmentalization of our lives and our knowledge. The Promethean regime is stronger for it.

The Holy Father teaches the return to a fully human education, which cultivates love of learning and ceaseless dialogue between disciplines, must be part of our new moral project. May the Griffin and her Dear Readers heed his call.

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