“The University’s Cutting Edge, the Source of Its Flatness. Or, the University’s Third Dimension” is the title of a lecture that will be given by Dr. Reinard Huetter, a professor of Christian theology at Duke Divinity School, at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 4, in the 3M Auditorium of Owens Science Hall on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.
Sponsored by the university’s Center for Catholic Studies, the lecture is free and open to the public. More information is available by calling the center, (651) 962-5700.
Huetter is a recent Catholic convert from a Lutheran tradition. His work on theological anthropology has led him to a study of the relation of faith and reason, nature and grace, and divine and human freedom.
Huetter argues that the modern research university, and the kind of training it offers, is missing a “third dimension,” which he defines as academic leisure (scholē), paideia, and genuine intellectual freedom.
He offers a snapshot of the current academic system which, he says, is steeped in ambivalence and incapacity for the pursuit of truth, is pervasively dependent on quantitative measures of assessment, and which uses the framework of secular reason for its internal and external communication.
These three characteristics belong to what he regards as the university’s first and second dimensions, which does constitute a “cutting edge,” but also results in a “flatness” that is bereft of the third dimension called academic leisure.
Huetter defines leisure “in the Greek sense of scholē, the source of the familiar words ‘scholar’ and ‘scholarship’ and paideia.” It leaves time for freedom of contemplation, intrinsic to a well-rounded scholarly education. This practice, he feels, keeps “the soul of the university alive … even under the specter of a comprehensive functionalization of the late modern university.”
Leisure, Huetter further argues, assures that the “university qua university will continue to matter – especially after the disenchantment of secular reason.”
Huetter believes the practice of this third dimension – making the time for intellectual creativity – will offset the current state of “flatness” endemic to universities today.