The Significance of Place: Sociological Reflections on Distance Learning and Christian Higher Education

David Diekema and David Caddell


In this essay David Diekema and David Caddell suggest that colleges and universities, particularly those with a religious tradition, should move cautiously in regard to distance education and Internet degree programs. Firmly rooted in the Durkheimian tradition of sociology, the authors argue that education has a fundamentally moral dimension that is lost in distance education programs. Ideally, what colleges and universities impart to students is a way of life that values the habits and discipline required to cultivate the intellect. The authors contend that this moral dimension, habitus, takes on even greater importance when considering the unique mission of Christian higher education. They argue that this is best accomplished when teachers and students meet face-to-face in a place, a locale, specially devoted to the life of the mind. Mr. Diekema and Mr. Caddell are members of the sociology department at Seattle Pacific University.


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Last Updated: February 2, 2002
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