One-on-One with Scholar and Researcher Mark Silk on the Future of Religion, Especially Evangelicalism, in America
Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College (Hartford, Connecticut), where he directs the Leonard Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life and serves as editor of Religion in the News. I recently talked with him over the phone about his book, The Future of Evangelicalism in America, and what the data says about Evangelicals, Nones, and others.
Ed: Let’s start with the obvious question since that’s the title of the book: What is the future of Evangelicalism in America?
Mark: I think it’s pretty good as far as religious traditions go in America.
We make the claim that Evangelicalism is now the normative form of non-Catholic Christianity in America. The question that immediately arises, however, is, if that’s so, what are the norms? The contributors to our volume have somewhat divergent views of this.
If we look broadly, we’re talking fundamentally about white Evangelicalism, liturgical styles, a certain kind of approach to worship, and to thinking of oneself in the world. Evangelicalism does count as a broad tradition, which is holding its own in American society…
The complicated reality behind the story of the Somali community’s success in Minnesota
When Abdirahman Kahin came to the U.S. two decades ago, one of the first things he noticed about Minnesotans was their love for restaurants, especially those offering ethnic cuisine.
He also noticed that though there were a lot of ethnic eateries in the Twin Cities, many tended to fall into one of several groups: Italian, Thai, Indian, Mexican or Middle Eastern. There were few, if any, places to get decent Somali food…
“Minneapolis is viewed around the world, particularly in Scandinavian countries where the Somali diaspora is growing, as a model for Somali integration,” writes Stefanie Chambers, a political science professor at Trinity College, in her recently published book comparing the Somali-American communities in Minneapolis and Columbus, Ohio. “Other American mayors, such as the mayor of Portland, Oregon, have visited Minneapolis to learn about policies that can help their cities better address the needs of Somali immigrants.”
For all the talk of success and integration, however, the more common reality for Somali-Americans in Minnesota is more complicated, if less comforting. “From outside, the community seems to be doing really great,” said Ahmed Yusuf [IDP ’97], a Minneapolis Public Schools teacher who’s written about Somalis in Minnesota. “But when you look deep down, we’re struggling big time, except for a few individuals who have risen above as the cream of the crop…
Reexamining Our Approach to College Access – by Angel B. Pérez
The New England Journal of Higher Education
Recently, I read yet another higher education professional’s case for standardized testing, specifically that making such tests free and universal would help level the playing field for low-income and minority students seeking access to top colleges. But while the SAT’s hefty $57 fee contributes to the barriers low-income students face, eliminating it won’t solve the problem. Access to higher education in America is much more complex.
The problem is our nation’s inability to offer consistent college preparation, academic rigor and counseling across varying socioeconomic communities. Data from the College Board show that the higher your family’s income, the higher your SAT scores are. Standardized tests then do more to keep low-income students out of top colleges than to invite them in. There is no shortage of talent in America. The shortage lies in its cultivation…
At Trinity College, I have led efforts to rethink how we admit students, and we’ve changed our admissions process to think differently about what it means to be “college ready.” One of the changes we made was to adopt a test-optional policy. Next month, the college will welcome the most diverse first-year class in its history. It includes the highest number of low-income and first-generation students in Trinity’s history. In addition, the academic profile has increased tremendously. The Class of 2021 has twice as many students at the top of our academic evaluation scale as last year’s entering class. We focus on grades, rigor, curriculum and all quantitative data high schools submit to us. But we also pay very close attention to personal qualities that we know will help students succeed in college—qualities such as curiosity, love of learning, perseverance and grit…
Angel B. Pérez is vice president for enrollment and student success at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. and a NEBHE delegate.