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К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №1 - 2005

Автор: Кристенсен М.

The role of a “herald” is to announce something new and to proclaim what is true. The purpose of the KAFU HERALD is just that—to announce what is new and what is true. We begin, in this first edition of the HERALD, by examine higher education itself, a field that is changing with breath-taking speed.

In 1994 the Kazakh-American Free University entered a long and distinctive tradition. For many centuries higher education has been one of the driving forces of civilization. We are now contributing to that tradition, serving the young people of Kazakhstan, Central Asia and the world.

The model for higher education can be traced to ancient Greek civilization. In order to participate effectively in the democratic society that distinguished Athens, citizens found it necessary to learn the art of persuasive public speaking. This ability enabled them to participate in open debate, to hold public office, and to argue points of law in court. The power to express ideas, therefore, was something to be learned, a valued skill. Socrates, the Athenian philosopher of the fifth century B. C., nurtured a learning environment by setting a new criterion for judging truth. He argued that clearly defined ideas must be compared in public discourse. The Socratic Method of instruction refers to the way he challenged ideas, through dialectical debate, in the marketplace of Athens. He did not establish a school for training young philosophers. Two of his students, Plato and Isocrates, established schools in Athens for the teaching of law, rhetoric and philosophy that became the enduring model for higher learning.

In Europe, during the Middle Ages, cathedral schools, such as Notre Dame in Paris, were created for the purpose of training young men for service in the church. These schools became the basis for universities in northern Europe. The University of Paris, organized around masters (faculty), offered degrees in the arts, canon (church) law, medicine, and theology. The University of Bologna, Italy, was organized by students and emphasized the study of law. Bologna served as the model for southern Europe, including Italy, Spain and southern France. The curriculum of Medieval universities consisted of seven liberal arts: grammar, rhetoric, and logic (the trivium) and arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music (the quadrivium). Approximately eighty universities had been established in Europe by the end of the Middle Ages.

The medieval university fostered change in civilization, thus becoming “the school of the modern spirit.” (See Charles Homer Haskins, The Rise of Universities, Cornell University Press, 1957, p. 25) Germans and Americans, respectively, stimulated changes and broadened the impact of this spirit in two significant ways during the late nineteenth and second half of the twentieth centuries. The German university system became the model for academic specialization and professionalism within the academy of learning. Americans, especially following the Second World War, opened public access to university education and linked many courses of study with career preparation during the last half of the twentieth century.

The Kazakh-American Free University draws from this rich tradition and is developing ideals that will help shape the future of higher education. As heralds of that which is new and true in higher education, we must be clear about what KAFU is trying to achieve.

In one sense, we are advocates for the old legacy in the university tradition. Many universities have abandoned their historic mission as champions of: 1) building character in students, 2) providing an environment where students can engage in deep contemplation, and 3) engaging in the cultural refinement of students. KAFU seeks to restore these components of classical higher education. Therefore, these affirmations become, once again, new.

From its beginning in 1994, the University has stated that moral and spiritual values, including honesty and integrity, were fundamental to its mission. That is to say, the purpose of KAFU is to produce graduates who are people of good character. From ancient times philosophers and educators have recognized that the good character of its citizens is the foundation for any society. Without good character among its citizens, social and cultural decay is inevitable. One of the highest contributions the graduates of KAFU can make to Kazakhstan and to the world, is to stand up against all forms of evil and to be champions of all that is good. The principles of good character and ethical behavior must, therefore, be an integral part of the educational experience at KAFU.

We affirm that quality higher education must afford students the leisure that is the necessity of true contemplation. The philosophers of ancient Greece understood that contemplation, deep thinking about important ideas, required time. Earning a degree at KAFU takes time—it is a process that must not be hurried nor circumvented. Contemplation is stimulated by a curriculum that is broadly based, it is nurtured through interaction with faculty who represent many fields of study, and it involves meaningful dialogue among student peers. The University, therefore, strives to be a place where ideas are processed and internalized by its students in an environment that demands excellence while encouraging creativity.

The University draws from the rich traditions of Kazakh culture. The musical, literary and artistic heritage of Kazakhstan represents a wonderful ethnic diversity and a deep resource for all citizens. Therefore, KAFU seeks to provide an education that taps into the cultural treasure of all ethnic groups. We believe that such an inclusive approach to culture encourages all students to appreciate the contributions of each group within society. It is our purpose to educate cultivated citizens who develop a life-long commitment to civic responsibility for the welfare of Kazakhstan and for all humanity.

While drawing upon and even trying to restore these classic elements of higher learning, KAFU is making new and distinctive contributions in higher education.

First, KAFU is committed to advance the purposes of higher education through international partnerships. The notion that a university can exist in isolation from the world is a myth. Although “globalization” may have many critics, it is, nevertheless, an engine that is driving the economies, the politics, the arts, and the individual aspirations of countries and people around the world. KAFU makes international partnerships a defining reality of its existence and its educational ethos. This reality is reflected in its summer student internship program in the United States, in its visiting faculty program that brings professors and career specialists from around the world to campus in Ust-Kamenogorsk, in its Internet courses taught by international educators, and in its membership in the World View Association of Universities.

We are convinced that the international partnership approach to higher education is enabling KAFU to produce a different kind of graduate. While learning to know and appreciate his or her own culture, the KAFU student will be able to define reality based upon global perspectives. Moreover, the KAFU student will develop a worldview--that is, a comprehensive frame of reference that informs the student’s understanding of reality, and provides the foundation on which the graduate can live meaningfully and productively.

Second, KAFU is committed to being an active participant in twenty-first century delivery systems that provide students with unrestricted access to information. Information technology is changing higher education. Classical resources and contemporary information, available on the world wide web, provide students with unprecedented access to professors, to other students, to whole libraries and to data base collections at any time, anywhere in the world. Consequentially, the role of the teacher is changing. Faculty are becoming guides to learning, not the primary sources of information. Such a shift in role actually increases the professor’s responsibility for quality education. The twenty-first century teacher must identify the motives within each student, must design appropriate learning objectives, must evaluate individual student progress, and must assist each student in making appropriate career and character developing choices.

Whereas learning technology is a fantastic new tool in higher education, the measure of quality education will be an institution’s commitment to each student. Rather than a “mass approach” to educating students, KAFU will be known as a University that makes the welfare of each student its highest priority. Personalized education is our standard. From pre-enrollment student counseling through post-graduation career planning, KAFU will seek to provide the resources that enable each student to succeed.

And third, KAFU is committed to nurturing leaders for the twenty-first century. Effective leadership is essential to personal, corporate, social and national achievement. For decades to come, the effectiveness of KAFU will be measured by the quality of the leaders it produces. Our business is to grow people. We strive to be incarnational—able to reproduce people who have the ability to reproduce others. In a real sense, the mission of KAFU is to train the trainers. This means that we must be good models, people of good character, who serve as examples to our students. Such a high and lofty goal means that we must follow the One who set the highest of all standards—Jesus Christ. For followers and for His enemies alike, Jesus changed the ethical principle of life. He set the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Rather than serving self, an effective leader must serve others.

Nurturing leaders requires that KAFU take a mentoring approach to student development. This means that faculty, staff and administrative leaders of the University invest themselves in the personal growth of students. We affirm, therefore, that we believe in the capacity of each student to develop his or her talents, character, and wisdom through the process of acquiring knowledge, skills, and leadership potential. We aspire to creating a learning environment where each member of the University’s professional staff shares responsibility for the welfare of each student. Our intent is to imbed in the academic culture of this University a commitment to the best interest of students and to assist them in achieving their God-given potential.

The KAFU model for twenty-first century truths in higher education blends elements of past practices and contemporary dynamics. We aspire to be a great university, serving Kazakh students who are capable of providing leadership for their nation and for the world. We will reach our goal by developing a learning environment that nurtures in students good character, thoughtful contemplation about important ideas, and appreciationfor rich cultural traditions. These commitments reflect the historic tradition of higher education. We will do more, however. KAFU is committed to makinga unique contribution to higher education as we foster international partnerships, as we demonstrate personalized education, and as we cultivate the leadership potential in each student. Theseprinciples and priorities are the firm foundation upon which KAFU is becoming a great university.

К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №1 - 2005

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