The Future of the Seminary in a Dogmatic Age

By :  Shuly Rubin Schwartz Chancellor and Irving Lehrman Research Professor of American Jewish History Posted On Mar 18, 2021

Chancellor Shuly Rubin Schwartz in Conversation with NYU President Emeritus John Sexton

Moderated by Krista Tippett

In his 2019 book, Standing for Reason: The University in a Dogmatic Age, Dr. John Sexton, former president of New York University, argues that a “secular dogmatism,” impenetrable by dialogue or reason, has come to dominate political discourse in America. Sexton sees our universities, engines of knowledge and stewards of thought, as the antidote, the crucial foundation-blocks of an interlocking world characterized by “secular ecumenism.”

In this special JTS event, JTS Chancellor Shuly Rubin Schwartz joins Professor Sexton for an online dialogue inspired by his book. The discussion is moderated by the celebrated host of public radio’s On Being, Krista Tippett, and explores questions including:

  • How does JTS’s mission differ from that of a secular university such as NYU?
  • What are the challenges and responsibilities of higher education in our fractured times?
  • Do seminaries have distinctive challenges and responsibilities during this moment? 
  • What might be considered “heresies” at JTS? At NYU?

This event was sponsored by the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies of JTS.

About the Speakers

Professor Shuly Rubin Schwartz, a groundbreaking scholar and visionary institutional leader, is the eighth chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary and the Irving Lehrman Research Professor of American Jewish History. As dean of two schools and most recently as provost, she has shaped and strengthened JTS’s academic programs while teaching and mentoring countless students. She is the first woman to serve as chancellor of JTS since its founding in 1886.

Professor John Sexton is President Emeritus of New York University, the Dean Emeritus of NYU Law School, and the Benjamin Butler Professor of Law. He joined the Law School faculty in 1981, was named the School’s Dean in 1988; he served in this capacity for fourteen years. He was named the University’s President in 2001, and served in that capacity until January 1, 2016.

Krista Tippett is a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and a New York Times bestselling author. She created and hosts the public radio program and podcast On Being. In 2014, Tippett was awarded the National Humanities Medal.