cover image The Decline of the Secular University

The Decline of the Secular University

, . . Oxford, $22 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-19-530695-8

Brief, hard-hitting and often brilliant, this treatise by emeritus historian Sommerville builds the controversial argument that secular universities in America have neglected religion at their peril. "The secular university is increasingly marginal to American society," he contends, adding that this marginalization is a direct result of universities' secularism. Even as Americans have become ever more religious, the university has become a credential factory rather than a place where students seek answers to life's most important questions. While the book is long on diagnosis, it comes up a bit short on prescription. Sommerville points to some tantalizing (and contentious) potential solutions, like allowing religion back into public debates and resurrecting the practice of teaching required courses on Western civilization, but one is left hoping that the full outline of his recommendations might be fodder for a second book. (July 7)