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Labor's Millennium

Description: Historians have traditionally interpreted the American land-grant higher-education movement as the result of political and economic forces. Little attention has been given, however, to any explicit or implicit theological motivations for the movement. This book tells the story of how the Christian belief of many founders of the University of Illinois motivated their educational theory and practice. Constructing a social gospel of labor's millennium (their shorthand for God's kingdom being enhanced through agricultural and mechanical education), they initially proposed that the university would impart a millenarian blessing for the larger society by providing abundant food, economic prosperity, vocational dignity, and a charitable spirit of sacred unity and public service. Rich in primary-source research, Smith's account builds a compelling case for at least one such institution's adaptation of an inherited evangelical educational tradition, transitioning into a new era of higher learning that has left its mark on university life today. Endorsements: ""Religious motivations were at the heart of the expansion of higher education in the United States. Brett Smith, using the University of Illinois as a case study, tells the fascinating story of the religious commitments, conflicts, and institutions that were at the heart of the founding of 'state colleges' of higher education. In today's more conflicted era, we too often forget how deeply religion has been at the heart of the efforts to expand opportunity, grow educational access, and shape public life in hopeful and healing patterns. Thanks to Dr. Smith for reminding us of this heritage."" --Jack L. Seymour Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary ""In an age where retreaded historical themes and worn out cliches have been used to explain the history of American higher education, along comes Labor's Millennium: Christianity, Industrial Education, and the Founding of the University of Illinois. Bringing a refreshingly different perspective, Smith demonstrates the viability of the explanatory power of theological constructs and offers his readers an oft overlooked and underutilized framework to understand the founding of one of America's greatest public universities."" --J. Gregory Behle The Master's College About the Contributor(s): Brett H. Smith is the Pastor of the University Baptist Church and the director of the Baptist Housing Ministry in Champaign, Illinois.
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