From their inception in the high Middle Ages, universities saw their essential mission as the formation of their students’ character, involving the cultivation of moral and intellectual virtue animated by eternal truth. In contemporary times, many prominent critics of higher education lament that the modern academy has all but forgotten—even rejected—character formation.
But there are signs that character education is alive and well. Due in part to the contemporary revival of virtue ethics in philosophy and theology, a broad range of academic disciplines and research programs are now focusing on the nature of the virtues and how character might be shaped in the context of families, schools, and faith communities.
The Character of the University will explore the challenges and opportunities for character formation in the context of 21st-century higher education. How might educators better understand and practice their shared aims to help students grow in virtue as they prepare to pursue lives of meaning and purpose? How might this task require colleges and universities to re-examine their own intellectual, moral, and even spiritual commitments?