After over a hundred years, how is DLSU a leading learner-centered research university? What metrics are we using to gauge how effective and innovative we are as a student-centered educational institution? To what extent do our methods and curricula promote the intellectual, emotional, spiritual and moral development of our learners?
Mike Alba alerts us to the fact that students now are “more entrepreneurial about how their educational investments are able to enhance the start-up project that is their professional career.” In DLSU, do students become skilled not only in terms of business, science and technology, but also in interpersonal, community-building and service-oriented knowledge and skills? What more can we do to prepare them to respond to Philippine and global realities? Perhaps, we should conduct or increase our institutional research focused on evaluating our effectiveness in the different aspects of learner-centered education.
Our learners are limited to a large extent to the students in our campuses? What more can we do so that our resources and pedagogical methods will reach other learners beyond our walls? How can we increase our off-shore programs or consortia with other educational institutions and communities? How can we further maximize technology to deliver our educational programs and share the talents and expertise of our faculty with other centers of learning?
The implementation of K-12 foresees graduates of senior high schools who will be better prepared for college. Are we taking advantage of this opportunity to come up with a renovated curriculum that will better equip future graduates with greater competence and values? How ready are we for Asean integration? On the other hand, we foresee a projected drop in college enrollment due to K-12 implementation. We must also be faculty-centered and staff-centered to mitigate the negative effects of low enrollment levels on the ranks of our faculty and personnel.
Integration of faith and scholarship
As a research University, our students and faculty have access to the fruits of past scholarship. They expand the boundaries of knowledge through diligent research. Fellow educators and accreditors recognize our excellence in teaching, scholarship and community service. Would they also affirm that our programs lead our learners and mentors to what Archbishop Soc Villegas referred to as “a renewed, personal encounter with Jesus Christ, ‘the heart of the Church from which the Catholic University emerges.’”?
As a community of believers and non-believers engaged in a shared mission are we not in need of New Evangelization, e.g. through moments of recollection, shared prayer, rituals, retreats, more ministers, or with other means we discern as effective for us? After all, only by this encounter with Christ will we find “the inspiration in love and moral exigency to engage in the crucial activities to which God calls (us) today.”
Pope Francis’ latest encyclical “Laudato Si’” calls our attention to the critical state of the earth, “our common home”, and the deterioration of our natural and human environment. He makes the urgent appeal that “a broad, responsible scientific and social debate needs to take place, one capable of considering all the available information and of calling things by their name.”
And the Holy Father offers us a very clear model of integrating scientific scholarship and faith values to present a more compelling picture of reality. How do we, as a Catholic University, involve ourselves in this debate? How do we integrate our scholarship and our faith principles in order to help counteract the critical, death-dealing trends that Pope Francis describes in nature, economics, politics and society?
In considering research proposals, could priority and incentives be given to research that addresses the critical problems of: pollution and climate change, loss of biodiversity, water, decline of quality of human life, breakdown of society…? “If we are truly concerned to develop an ecology capable of remedying the damage we have done…”, Pope Francis tells us, “[then] no branch of the services and no form of wisdom can be left out…” Should we not therefore prioritize researches that are inter-disciplinary?
Let us revisit our research agenda. Is it possible to give weight or priority to research and applications of new knowledge that will raise employment, promote inclusive productivity and development that really benefits the underserved and working class, or safeguards ecological integrity? And should some discoveries result in patents, could we share some of the benefits to assist those in the peripheries of our society? To be continued
Br. Raymundo B. Suplido FSC is President of De La Salle University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.