Two decades ago, Robert Benne researched Christian colleges to see if any had remained true to their founding mission and vision — he identified six. And today he’s not so sure those six would be on the list. Bob founded the Roanoke College Benne Center for Religion and Society and has spent his professional life studying and understanding the American college landscape. In this interview David Goodwin, president of the ACCS, and host Davies Owens join Robert to explore the changes that are happening as secularization and internal and external political pressure are redefining the college experience.
Robert Benne was Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion and Chair of the Religion and Philosophy Department at Roanoke College for eighteen years before he left full-time teaching in 2000. He founded the Roanoke College Center for Religion & Society in 1982 and directed it until 2012. He continues at Roanoke College as a Research Associate in its Religion and Philosophy Department. Before going to Roanoke College in 1982, he was Professor of Church and Society at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago for seventeen years. A native of Nebraska, he received his college education at Midland University. His graduate degrees are from the University of Chicago. He has written and lectured widely on the relation of Christianity and culture. The most recent of his twelve books are: Good and Bad Ways to Think About Religion and Politics; Quality with Soul-How Six Premier Colleges and Universities Keep Faith with their Religious Traditions; and Reasonable Ethics: A Christian Approach to Social, Economic, and Political Concerns. A Festschrift entitled Report from the Front Lines was published by his friends in 2009 in honor of his seventieth birthday. Upon his retirement in the spring of 2012, Roanoke College re-named the Center which he directed for thirty years in his honor as The Robert D. Benne Center for Religion & Society. He has been married to Joanna Benne for 54 years. They are the parents of four and the grandparents of seven.
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