Together, BYU’s mission statement and the Aims of a BYU Education – spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging and character building, leading to life-long learning and service – should lead all who work and study at the university toward inspiring learning, said BYU President Kevin J Worthen on Monday.
Speaking at a conference for BYU faculty and staff, Worthen said focusing on the dual meaning of inspiring, learning in the classroom can be perfected and learning can extend beyond the classroom.
“When I use the term ‘inspiring learning,’ I have in mind both meanings of the word ‘inspiring,’” he said. “I hope we inspire our students to learn, and I hope that learning leads to inspiration."
On a daily basis, it is sometimes difficult to see how learning leads to inspiration because it can seem so common, Worthen said. But for many who visit BYU, like New York University Professor of Journalism Jay Rosen, it’s anything but common. Here’s what Rosen posted on Facebook after coming to BYU:
“That is an example of inspiring learning,” said Worthen. “And the classrooms are the central places in which that learning occurs. I hope we can make each of our classrooms a place of inspiring learning, places where students become excited about learning and where that learning leads to revelation.”
Acknowledging that classroom instruction is vital and can always be improved, Worthen added that enhancing the quality of inspiring learning also means expanding both the quantity and quality of learning that happens outside the classroom.
“The kind of instruction that many call ‘experiential learning.’” Worthen said. “Just like classroom learning, experiential learning can produce the kind of inspiring learning that our mission statement challenges us to provide.”
During his remarks, Worthen shared two videos of BYU professors working with students outside the classroom to provide experiential learning opportunities.
The second video featured Biology Professor Byron Adams and his students studying creatures in Antarctica.
Focusing both on research and student development can be a challenging balance Worthen said, but it will certainly be worth the challenge.
“As important as our research may be—and some of it is of enormous importance; some of it life-changing, even life-saving – as important as our research is, it is, in the long run, not as important as the eternal development of our students,” said Worthen. “I applaud and admire the way so many of you pursue both these ends with full purpose of heart and mind, without sacrificing either.”
At the beginning of his address, Worthen talked about BYU's review of the sexual assault reporting process at the university. He said:
We have also faced challenges in this past year, challenges that give us opportunities to improve. As I’m sure you are all aware, we are examining in depth the reporting process for our students, and other aspects of the way we handle sexual assault cases. It causes us deep sorrow to know that members of our community would be victimized in such a devastating way. We are anxious to help them. A group of faculty and administrators have worked tirelessly during the summer, to help us know how best to do that. We anticipate that this fall, the advisory council will present their recommendations to the President’s Council. We will then address the topic with the campus community more in depth. In the meantime, let me emphasize that the top priority in this extensive effort is the safety and well-being of our students, especially those who have been the victims of sexual assault. Efforts will continue until sexual assault is eliminated from our campus environment.