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Dockery calls for interdisciplinary focus, asks campus ‘to do’ the Word

President Dockery delivers the fall convocation address.
President Dockery delivers the fall convocation address.

JACKSON, Tenn.Sept. 3, 2004 – During Union University’s fall convocation Friday, President David S. Dockery called for “a renewed emphasis on the integration of faith and learning and also a heightened perspective on interdisciplinary conversations across the campus” but also challenged students, faculty and staff not to forget the application of the Christian faith in people’s lives.

Dockery asked the university’s academic leaders to form and shape a department of interdisciplinary studies “that can bring together a rich conversation from across every corner of this campus,” because the “best of the Christian intellectual tradition calls for us to think how these important matters can be integrated across the university. “

However, Dockery said that an educational model grounded in the Christian faith cannot forget the importance of application for the lives of people. He referenced one of eight of the university’s priorities for 2010 that says, in part, “we will nurture an ongoing commitment to the Great Commandment, which compels our community to recognize that a love for God requires a love for all humanity.” Dockery reminded the audience that they were all called to help make the university a better place and to do good things on and off the campus.

“We are to be agents of reconciliation in the church and in society,” he said. “We are to build bridges where there are walls, particularly with reference to the racial divide that has haunted our country since its inception. Thus this year, on the Union University campus, we will seek to expand our ongoing efforts to prioritize our role in the area of racial reconciliation. I believe that’s what it means to love our neighbor, be doers of the Word. We normally are hearers of the Word, thinkers about the Word. We can spell a word and reflect upon a word, but to do the Word puts a different shape upon what we are all about here in this place.”

Dockery asked students, faculty and staff to demonstrate “doing the Word” by honoring one another through words and actions committed to each person’s success.

“We will seek God’s guidance in how we can best contribute to constructive exercises that will help us honor, respect and love one another,” he said. “We pray that God would give us grace to be agents of redemption in this broken world and to embrace one another regardless of ethnic or racial background.”

Dockery also explained that faith impacts every aspect of life for a Christian, including the whole process of learning. He said that, at the heart of Union’s Christ-centered approach to education, is the “belief that God has revealed Himself to us in creation, in history, in our conscience, and ultimately in Christ, and that this revelation is now primarily available to us in Holy Scripture. This revealed truth is the foundation of all we believe, teach and do at Union University. We believe that this God revealed truth in the framework in which we understand and interpret our world, the events of human history, as well as our responsibilities toward God and one another in this world.”

He reminded the campus that the Christian faith impacts “how we live, how we think, how we write books, how we govern society, how we treat one another.” He said it also must impact our understanding of language, history, government and art.

“It is not that we master theology and then explore all other areas across the curriculum, but it is a bringing together of our knowledge of God and our knowledge of the subject matter under investigation,” he said. “Without this correlative approach to learning, all knowledge is basically abstract, whether biology, economics, English, engineering, political science or the arts.”

Dockery said that we cannot know God without knowing that we are created in the image of God, and that all things being explored fall under the umbrella of God as both Creator of the universe and the source of all truth.

“We cannot connect these things in a unified whole, we cannot fully understand the grand metanarrative, we cannot truly grasp how to explore and engage the issues in history and science, business and healthcare, apart from this approach to learning. Thus at Union University we will seek to sanctify the secular because Jesus Christ has come to earth.”

by Kathie Chute

Media contact: Tabitha Frizzell, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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