Fundamentalist U: Keeping the Faith in American Higher Education

Adam Laats (Author)
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Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
March 01, 2018
6.2 X 1.0 X 9.3 inches | 1.35 pounds

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About the Author

Adam Laats is Professor of Education and History at Binghamton University. He is the author of several books, including The Other School Reformers: Conservative Activism in American Education (2015), winner of the History of Education Society's Outstanding Book Award, 2016.


"Fundamentalist U, is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of modern evangelicalism." -- Tim Gloege, Church History

"Along the way, Laats uses a vast array of evidence, from theological tracts to student evaluations, to reveal the changing perspectives of, and pressures on, university administrators, professors, students, and parents. ... Fundamentalist U is a superb book and a significant contribution to the histories of U.S. religion and politics as well as higher education." -- Andrew Jewett, Journal of American History

"Finally, we have a comprehensive history of some of the most significant and significantly understudied 'dissenting' types of higher educational institutions: fundamentalist and evangelical colleges and universities. And Adam Laats is exactly the right person to have written it. As a sympathetic outsider to the institutions he studies, Laats pairs depth of research and analysis with a commitment to rigorous fairness to his subjects... Fundamentalist U reshapes our mental landscape of twentieth-century American higher educational institutions and is essential reading for understanding both their history and their present." -- Andrea L. Turpin, History of Education Quarterly

"Laats is an engaging writer, and the book's chapters are filled with fascinating stories cleverly told. . . . Fundamentalist U reshapes our mental landscape of twentieth-century American higher educational institutions and is essential reading for understanding both their history and their present." --Professor Turpin, HEQ

"At its worst, scholarship on religion and American higher education has a tendency to diverge into a diatribe against secularization and the waning influence of Christianity in 20th and 21st century colleges and universities. At its best, scholarship on religion and American higher education produces fascinating studies about the ways in which religion engages in a unique and complex network of educational institutions that, in many ways, is unparalleled in any other country. Adam Laats's book, Fundamentalist U: Keeping Faith in American Higher Education, falls within the latter category ... Laats presents scholars with an important study in an area of religion and American higher education that brings evangelical and fundamentalist institutions into the field of study." --Andrew Gardner, Reading Religion

"Adam Laats's history of the development of evangelical and fundamentalist higher education reveals a complex interaction between religious and academic values. The colleges, universities, and Bible Institutes that he examines contained deep differences regarding both spheres. As a sympathetic observer and an objective reporter, Laats captures the conflicts and the abiding strengths of faith-based institutions as they wrestle with the challenges of modernity and their own internecine quarrels."--Roger L. Geiger, author of The History of American Higher Education: Culture and Learning from the Founding to World War II

"Fundamentalist and conservative evangelical colleges face unique tensions. They represent volatile movements plagued by internal struggles and ever-shifting boundaries. They pursue higher learning on behalf of a movement that accused America's universities of betraying God's truth and righteousness. And they function as halfway houses for evangelical students who are called to be in the world, but not of it. Adam Laats went deep into the archives of Bob Jones University, Wheaton College, Moody Bible Institute, Biola University, Liberty University and Gordon College, and he tells their stories with great integrity. The result is a major contribution to the history of Christian higher education and to the understanding of fundamentalism and evangelicalism in America."--Joel Carpenter, Director of the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity, Calvin College

"Adam Laats's nuanced, detailed, and exceptionally well researched history of twentieth-century conservative Protestant higher education offers a plethora of fascinating information and perceptive insights. It is essential reading even for those well versed in American evangelical history, because it offers a fresh analysis of the complex ways in which fundamentalist colleges reflected (and shaped) their religious movement's tenuous balance between the demands of the world and the tenets of faith."--Daniel K. Williams, author of God's Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right

"Laat's book is a valuable resource for those interested in the history of education or conservative Christianity."--Library Journal

"An invaluable introduction to the esoteric world of Christian higher education. Few existing studies offer this level of insight into the inner workings of schools like BJU and Liberty."
--Los Angeles Review of Books

"A fascinating and careful history."--Wall Street Journal

"Laats attempts to identify the distinct nature of non-denominational, fundamentalist-evangelical higher education in the 20th century. And he succeeds admirably... Laats has made a solid contribution to our understanding of both higher education and American Christianity."--Christianity Today