FJU Office of Public Affairs Press    2015/7/2   
2014 ACUCA Biennial Conference & 20th General Assembly at Fu Jen

The 2014 ACUCA Biennial Conference & 20th General Assembly took place at Fu Jen Catholic University on October 24-26, 2014. The event marked the efforts of Fu Jen to serve as the Secretariat of ACUCA over the past two years. The theme of the conference was ¡§Values Education: A Vital Constituent for Successful Education in the 21st Century.¡¨ The assembly aimed to remind every member of ACUCA to be more aware of its important mission and educational values. The Association of Christian Universities and Colleges in Asia (ACUCA) has a unique mandate to coordinate the community of Christian institutes of higher education in Asia and provide service for both its members and their local societies. About a hundred participants from universities and colleges attended the Biennial Conference. Two keynote speeches, three parallel sessions and various presentations were the centerpiece of the conference.

At Session I in the Keynote Speech, Professor Michael J. Garanzini, S.J., President of Loyola University Chicago and Secretary for Higher Education for the Society of Jesus, spoke on ¡§Listening to Today¡¦s Youth: Challenges and Opportunities for the Future of a Christian University.¡¨ The president strongly urged the audience to encourage students to ¡§bring five hungers to their university experience.¡¨ He stressed that ¡§these hungers will be identified as follows: a hunger for a moral compass, a hunger for integrated knowledge, a hunger for civic engagement, a hunger for a global paradigm, and a hunger for an adult spirituality.¡¨ Professor Michael J. Garanzini emphasized that since ¡§youths are seeking a roadmap for the future,¡¨ a better comprehensive philosophy of life to nourish young minds with a fair and just vision of society and globe is necessary. He also remarked that social psychologists have noticed a rapid change of ¡§attitude and values from self-interest to a broader social concern for the welfare of others in recent years.¡¨ Professor Michael J. Garanzini emphasized that ¡§a Christian education¡¨ can smoothly meet the needs of young minds. At the end of Session I, he raised further questions, ¡§What values, then, should guide our pedagogy? What are the characteristics that should distinguish our universities from others?¡¨

At Parallel Session II, Professor Andrew Wright, Professor of Religious and Theological Education in the Centre for Theology at King¡¦s College London, concentrated on the explanation for three indispensable dimensions of ¡§Values Education,¡¨ termed as ethical, spiritual, and character education. His topic was ¡§Beyond the Fact-Value Divide: The Prophetic and Transformation Vocation of Christian Universities.¡¨ In addition to the task of producing technical scientific knowledge and vocation-oriented training, he added that ¡§critics argue¡¨ modern universities should pay equal attention to the domain of arts and humanities. Professor Andrew Wright said that universities which ¡§accept the critique¡¨ strive to keep a balance between knowledge-based and values-based education with a ¡§compensatory strategy.¡¨ He argued, however, that the strategy these universities embrace is not so ideal because it allows a fact-value divide to remain firmly in place.¡¨ Professor Andrew Wright noted that a Christian university confronts the ¡§far more radical task of challenging the ontological and epistemic assumptions,¡¨ when it truly fulfills its mission.

Dr. Myrna F. Ramos, Vice Chancellor for Mission, External Affairs and Advancement at De La Salle University-Dasmariñas, Dr. Henry Feriadi, Vice Rector at Duta Wacana Christian University, and Dr. Peter Yao-Tang Lin, Director of the General Education Center at Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages, spoke at the Parallel Sessions on Values Education after the keynote speech on October 25. The Parallel Sessions focused on the discussion of ethical, character and spiritual education.

Dr. Myrna F. Ramos explained details of the vision of De La Salle University-Dasmariñas, the Lasallian Education, and stressed that the university founder St. John Baptist de La Salle took care for the ¡§integral development of youth.¡¨ His philosophy of education aimed to address ¡§both the human and Christian needs of the artisans¡¦ children¡¨ in the sixteenth century. Dr. Ramos concluded by emphasizing ¡§the Lasallian education forms its basis on God¡¦s love¡¨ and aspires to make education accessible to all, especially the underprivileged.

At Session II, Dr. Henry Feriadi urged universities nowadays to pay more attention to the cultivation of the ¡§heart and mind¡¨ of every individual in addition to a concentration on knowledge delivery. He said that character education ¡§should go beyond campus¡¨ rather than be limited by distance. The Vice Rector concluded his speech with an appeal that academics leave the ivory tower and come close to local communities.

At the end of parallel sessions, Dr. Peter Yao-Tang Lin went deeper into the topic of ¡§spiritual education.¡¨ He said that educators in Christian universities should help students ¡§pursue spiritual development.¡¨ Furthermore, Dr. Lin encouraged the participants to develop effective strategies to promote the integration of Christian values into curriculum, pedagogy, extra-curriculum activities and liturgies. By doing so, he believed that these efforts will fruitfully enrich the life of students in church schools with the concepts of ¡§spiritual development¡¨ and ¡§religious faith.¡¨

The twentieth General Assembly not only marked the end of Fu Jen Catholic University¡¦s service as the Secretariat of ACUCA, but highlighted another milestone of the association as well. Under the leadership of Dr. Robertus Wahjudi Triweko, Parahyangan Catholic University will take over the torch and continue to lead the Association of Christian Universities and Colleges in Asia into a new stage of intensive exchange and sustainable development.