For me teaching in the USAO IDS program is not
only, or even primarily, a job. It is a vocation, a calling, a consuming
passion which gives me a chance to challenge and encourage men and women
of all ages to discover the life of the mind, and in the process grow in
knowledge, discernment, and humaneness. In 1968 I turned down a considerably
more lucrative position at West Texas State University in order to come
to USAO. I chose USAO because it was a small liberal arts college and I
could be part of developing and implementing the new USAO IDS program and
especially a 12 credit-hour series of interdisciplinary, team-taught courses
dealing with global history of ideas from the beginnings to the present
-- the courses now known as the World Thought and Culture sequence. At
the time they were called "Principal Ideas" courses and included a 3-hour
segment dealing with the Orient which we have now integrated into our 9-hour
series of courses.
I was delighted by the material to be covered--not merely
the standard canned menu of Western thought from Socrates to Sartre but
ideas potentially representative of the non-Western world. I was equally
pleased with the instructional method: team teaching, which would not only
manifest the diverse ways the same "fact" (issue, event, idea) can be illuminated
and interpreted by different observers but allow faculty to demonstrate
that individuals from seemingly totally unrelated academic disciplines
can enter into fruitful dialogue and learn from and with one another. In
addition, team teaching encourages spontaneity and discussion (even in
large classes) and discourages the tendency to equate learning with memorizing
textbook passages and expecting simplistic black-and-white answers to complex
issues. Team teaching also challenges both faculty and students to think
and makes it difficult for professors to use the same old lecture notes
year after year. Finally, and most importantly, team teaching cannot even
exist without people's willingness to understand each other and build bridges
between academic disciplines and world views.
You see, in the sixties I was already deeply concerned
about the post-Enlightenment tendency among intellectuals in the West to
shatter and compartmentalize knowledge with the practical result of turning
higher education into a loose confederation of separate departments designed
to produce (much like factory assembly lines) graduates who knew a great
deal about certain carefully circumscribed areas and practically nothing
about anything that was not directly relevant to their major. This seemed
at best unfortunate and at worst tragic, especially for undergraduate education
which should encourage intellectual flexibility and build a broad foundation
for subsequent specialization, training, and the possibility of changing
careers several times before retiring, in addition to helping people develop
the mental and cultural resources to enjoy those portions of their lives
which were spent neither at work nor asleep. At the Oklahoma College of
Liberal Arts (now USAO) I saw the possibility of pursuing the patterns
that connect, of crossing over from the sciences to the humanities, from
the arts and philosophy to technology, from economics to the religious
traditions of the world. In other words: I fell in love with this college
and its potential. And as soon as I started teaching, I fell in love all
over again -- with all of those long-haired, bright-eyed, barefoot, beaded
(these were the sixties, after all!) eager, irreverent, questioning, creative
students, many of whom were suddenly discovering that they had independent
How quickly time passes: once there was Hardy Calaway, and then
there was a whole crop of Hardy's top students from Del City High, and
now there is Shawn, Hardy's son . . .
The years have done nothing to reduce my enthusiasm. I
still believe in the USAO mission. I still share the USAO dream. Whenever
I teach one of the World Thought and Culture courses with my colleagues
Cecil Lee (an art historian and artist) and Larry Magrath (a biologist
and orchid specialist) I realize that we are doing education for the future
-- that right here in Chickasha, Oklahoma we are developing ways of healing
the disease of intellectual fragmentation and tunnel vision through interdisciplinary
dialogue. But now I also follow my dream beyond the borders of Oklahoma,
both physically and in cyberspace.
As my resume shows, almost everything
I think and do and teach and write and lecture, at USAO and elsewhere,
somehow relates back to this passion for discovering or building links
and finding ways of softening the artificial boundaries between disciplines,
ideologies, nations, language groups, and individuals. Hence, I see the
USAO mission, our dedication to an interdisciplinary core-curriculum, not
in terms of Chickasha, or Oklahoma, or even the United States. I see it
as the beginning of what could (and I argue, should) be a model for higher
education in the 21st century, a model that can be translated into alternate
modes of teaching, such as using the Internet and other forms of distance
In this way we are preparing for the future.
crucial issue of the 21st century will involve developing patterns of knowing,
acting, and being OTHER than the traditionally dominant (at least in the
Judeo - Christian - Islamic context) patriarchal - authoritarian - dogmatic
"either/or" approach which fears and shuns genuine dialogue (which listens
and learns) and seeks to impose its TRUTH. For the first time in human
history we have the power to destroy the world. We can do it with a nuclear
bang or an ecological whimper. Never before has it been so critical that
human beings learn to live in peace. The poet W.H. Auden writes that we
"must love another or die." For Christians this should be easy. After all
at the very core of the Christian message lies the challenge to love one's
enemies: In other words, to have no enemies (tell that to the victims of
assorted crusades and pogroms)! Other religions and secular ideologies
share similar ideals, especially in various forms of the "Golden Rule."
This shows that there have always been visionaries to point the way. Humanity
has just been slow to follow. Ironically, the very religions that should
have brought peace all too often precipitated wars or could at least be
used to rationalize aggression and violence. Look at Ireland and the former
Yugoslavia. However, we have run out of options. The future is now, and
the people of the world simply must find a way of agreeing on certain fundamental
minimal codes of mutual respect and cooperation.
This is why I am so delighted
to be involved with the Center
for Global Ethics at Temple University and its European counterpart
in Tübingen, Germany.
Learning this new mode of being will not be easy. We need
to overcome deeply entrenched habits of absolutism, dualism, and rigidity,
and we must do so without sinking into the morass of lazy "everything -
goes" totally relativistic rejection of all standards. We must find our
way away from proscriptive legalism toward accepting (albeit value conscious)
respect for those who live in different worlds, whether intellectual, economic,
social, or political, and we must be willing to admit that we ourselves
might suffer from prejudice and provincialism. In addition, we must grow
up and learn that genuine success involves leaving the world a better place
than we found it -- for all creatures great and small. We need to take
the responsibility for assuring that there will even be a world for our
children and grandchildren. This definition of success does not exclude
the pursuit of affluence but certainly cannot be defined in terms of material
wealth, especially stagnant wealth that is not re-invested in socially
and ecologically responsible projects. Hence my ongoing participation in
the Global Ethic Roundtables
for Business Leaders at various locations in Pennsylvania with representatives
from Business for Social Responsibility and The World Business
Academy. The first week of May, 1997, we are sponsoring a major invitational
conference for CEOs, academics, and spiritual leaders at La
Casa de Maria near Santa Barbara, CA (Note: this was written in 1996).
It is essential that we explore precisely those modes
of knowing / being / acting which push beyond the dichotomies toward a
NEW mode of knowing / being / acting appropriate to the intersecting "worlds"
of the inevitable global civilization of the next century. Here in the
United States we are in a perfect position to serve as testing ground for
such a development, especially since so much of our success was purchased
with the suffering of native peoples, enslaved Africans, and other hated
minorities. We cannot undo the past, but at least we can do out utmost
to ensure that the future will be brighter.
The United States IS (not are!)
a mini-globe, a "mini-United Nations." Pluralism is the "American Way,"
and we have learned (on a relatively small scale, often unwittingly, unwillingly,
and with mixed success) to balance creativity and order, the claims of
the individual and the community, the One and the Many. At their best,
cities such as Chicago have demonstrated that neighborhoods can work, that
it is possible for people from widely divergent ethnic and cultural backgrounds
not only to live together in peace but to enrich each others' lives by
sharing their unique gifts -- as long as fear and prejudice are held at
bay. And that is largely a matter of education.
My passion for making inter-, intra-, and cross - disciplinary
connections is at least in part the result of my childhood. In a sense
I am trying to atone and pay a tiny sliver of a monstrous debt. I was born
in Austria just before the beginning of World War II. I remember the war
years well, but more importantly, I remember what I learned a few years
after the war.
When I was around eight or nine (and already a voracious
reader) I discovered that my people had slaughtered millions of human beings
simply because they were Jewish or otherwise "different." Many Germans
and Austrians (such as my parents) who were not personally responsible
for the atrocities had remained silent to protect themselves and their
children. It seemed that my life, and that of my generation, had been bought
with the blood of the victims and the permanent non-existence of their
As I grew older I became convinced that I owed a debt
to the dead and those who would never be. By the time I was eighteen I
had carefully studied a few dozen crusades, pogroms, religious persecutions,
and wars. It seemed there was no limit to the capacity of human beings
to torture their fellows. And yet throughout history there were men and
women who exemplified pursuit of knowledge and non-judgmental love. In
terms of the Holocaust, we call them the Righteous among Nations. In their
vision and courage I found hope. They should be our heroes.
This is why I have dedicated my life to building bridges
between people, ethnic groups, religions, denominations, philosophies,
and academic disciplines. I am convinced that the future of humanity depends
on several crucial attitudes:
We can do it! I was born one month before World War II began.
Stalingrad, London, Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki . . . at least 30 million
victims of the Holocaust and Stalin's purges . . . the bomb . . . the Cultural
Revolution . . . . And yet, more than half a century after the end of World War II
this Austrian is a U.S. citizen who teaches in the United States, writes
this introduction on a computer with parts manufactured in Japan, and has
students from all over the world, including Russia, China, and Japan. If
this can happen at USAO, it can happen elsewhere. And that makes all the
Maintaining faith that our lives are
grounded in a center of meaning and point towards a transcendent focus.
- Behaving like guests in the universe
instead of parasites.
- Being willing to explore disagreements
and grow in understanding through dialogue.
- Showing respect for the "other" without
rejecting our own roots.
- Basing human relationships less on
visceral reactions than informed, nuanced thinking.
HAVING THE COURAGE TO LOVE.