The Secular University and Its Critics

Yuval Jobani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Universities in the USA have become bastions of secularity in a distinctly religious society. As such, they are subjected to a variety of robust and rigorous religious critiques. In this paper I do not seek to engage in the debate between the supporters of the secular university and its opponents. Furthermore, I do not claim to summarize the history of the critique of the secular university, nor to present an exhaustive map of its current articulations. My purpose is rather more limited and modest, namely, to locate some of the key arguments of the current religious criticism of the secular university and put them in a wider philosophical context. Exploring the philosophical infrastructure of this criticism enables not only a more comprehensive and profound understanding of it, but also urges us to rethink the purpose and essence of the university as an institution that both reflects and forms our society and culture. The article is structured as follows; first section puts the religious criticism of the secular university in the context of the latest wave of criticism levelled at contemporary universities. Second section explores the argument according to which the secularization of the university led to the loss of the ideal of education for excellence in the wide, classical sense of the term. Third section examines the theoretical foundations of the call to reintegrate religion in contemporary universities, while fourth section explores the various practical consequences of this demand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-351
Number of pages19
JournalStudies in Philosophy and Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • Excellence
  • Higher education
  • Secularization


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