Michael Bradley recently observed that any meaningful discussion of “diversity” in a university setting should presuppose a shared understanding of what the word means. As with other popular concepts that crop up in discussions of contemporary higher education—justice, inclusion, equality—it seems these are things that no self-respecting administrator or professor could be against.
Yet Bradley is right to point out that all the most central questions about diversity go unanswered, even as everyone pays lip service to the term. It’s a classic instance of the Socratic “what is X?” phenomenon. Of course we all know that diversity is good, Socrates! Just don’t make us get too specific about it.
The question of diversity is even more complicated for Christian universities. On the one hand, it would seem that such schools ought simply to reflect the universality of Christian faith, welcoming faculty, staff, and students without caring about their “accidental” demographic characteristics, such as race or gender, and respecting them as equals once they arrive.
On the other hand, sincere Christian universities usually proclaim a set of core moral and religious commitments that are by their very nature limited and bounded. Thus, prospective faculty may be asked about things like the specifics of their faith, or about their willingness to abstain from alcohol. Furthermore, a school whose faculty hold many distinct faiths (or no faith at all) would appear to be far more diverse than one whose faculty are required to profess Christianity. If diversity is good, and Christian schools place limits on their diversity by design, then it seems that we have a problem.
Read more at the Public Discourse.