Putting Down Roots: Why Universities Need Gardens
Christian Scholar's Review, Winter 2016, Vol. XLV, No. 2
(The first paragraph of the article is used in lieu of an abstract.) In "The Loss of the University," Wendell Berry proposes that contemporary universities should return to a model of learning that envisions knowledge as a tree. Practicing such a rooted, interconnected form of education, however, is difficult in a culture of "boomers" (Berry's term for people who are always looking for a better place somewhere else) who value specialized, commodifiable knowledge rather than wisdom that leads to health and flourishing. These models of learning stem from different underlying desires: if we want to maximize profit, we will isolate and divide and specialize knowledge, but if we want to cultivate health, we will seek to draw together and integrate our knowledge. Thus our attempts to educate students in rooted wisdom begin with our own commitment to our place. Rather than trying to build impressive CVs so that we can move to "better" jobs elsewhere, we want to do good work where we are, even if such work does not bring professional prestige, even if the place is not exactly what we expected. In the following essay, then, we turn to Wendell Berry to work out reasons to hope for higher education even in our industrial, boomer culture.
Wendell Berry, Higher Education, Gardens, The Loss of the University