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The 'Ecumenical' University

Presidents Sexton and Schapiro discuss university's role in leading provocative discussions

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April 5, 2012 | by Matt Paolelli

New York University President John Sexton will join Northwestern President Morton Schapiro in a discussion about the university’s role in leading meaningful discussions on the provocative issues of our time.

“The Ecumenical University” event will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 9, in room 107 of Harris Hall, 1881 Sheridan Road, Evanston. Open to the public, the event is sponsored by the Sheil Catholic Center.

Sexton will discuss his vision for the university as a setting to guide conversations on provocative topics in a more respectful and thoughtful way. President Schapiro will offer a response.

“Sexton has spoken about universities as being the last, best hope for pushing back against the gladiator style of discourse that is characteristic of our political, social and religious conversations today,” said Mary Deeley, pastoral associate at Sheil. “For Sexton, the idea of ecumenical is not just about religion but has to do with bringing together the whole world for meaningful discourse on the important issues of the time.”

Too much black-and-white thinking dominates discourse today, Deeley said. “Ours is increasingly a society -- and a university -- of compartmentalization. We are losing the art of nuanced and passionate discourse.”

The discussion is part of Sheil’s Christ the Teacher Institute Speaker Series, which features speakers who draw on the rich intellectual tradition of the Catholic Church to address current and timeless topics.

A reception will follow the event.