OurÂ universityÂ remainsÂ attached to itsÂ founding in 1829 as anÂ AnglicanÂ institution committed toÂ the promotion of religious life and theologicalÂ learningÂ inÂ its students.Â
Its Christian identity and values are embodiedÂ in the AssociateshipÂ of Kingâ€™s CollegeÂ awardÂ (AKC): an optionalÂ courseÂ open to all studentsÂ that isÂ modelledÂ on the original awardÂ of the college.Â The AKC builds upon itsÂ philosophical and ethical teachings â€˜to promote intelligent, open-minded reflectionâ€™.
Perhaps it was curiosity more than anything, then,Â that led me to take the AKCÂ course. I was intrigued by how King’s could supportÂ a traditional, theologicalÂ agenda whilst still maintaining itsÂ reputationÂ as a modern, forward-thinking, socially liberal institution; oneÂ that is inclusiveÂ of allÂ studentsÂ regardless of religious orientation, gender and all other means of social categorisation.
Three years down the line, attending the AKC has become something of a personal test:Â one ofÂ them being toÂ continue toÂ standÂ itÂ when each speaker seems to present somethingÂ more ludicrous,Â illogicalÂ and blinkeredÂ than the one before.
WhenÂ theÂ AKCÂ claimsÂ that itÂ â€˜enables students to develop an enquiring mindâ€™ andÂ â€˜to be educated about important issuesâ€™, itÂ does so withinÂ a very strictly controlled, narrow-minded and gendered framework.
Throughout the courseÂ weâ€™ve heard from aÂ grey-haired white man in a suit followed by another grey-haired white man in a suit, with the only woman speaker being Dr Carlisle, the programmeâ€™s director.Â Our minds can enquire into the world but this world is a male construction supporting male beliefs. We can be educated on important issues but these issues are male issues. Why is there no acknowledgement of this in the AKC? We are being taught a half-truth.
Itâ€™sÂ 2015 and much of the current course belongs to a time that has passed. The fact that the AKC continues to perpetuate the idea of the Christian concept of God-and women-Â as more worthy of attention thanÂ other beliefs (there is a whole semester dedicated to the Christian school of thought but only one lecture planned on Buddhism) is reflective of our universityâ€™s bias to its Anglican creation.
There isÂ someÂ hope for the AKC, however. Semester two promises a more representative line-up of speakers, with topics as far-reaching as â€˜Islamic Self-Identification in the East End of Londonâ€™ and â€˜Religious Innovation in China and Mongoliaâ€™.
The backward teachingsÂ of the AKC provesÂ that KCL has failedÂ to take note of its studentsâ€™Â rejection of the Collegeâ€™s out-dated, didactic Christian visionÂ that offendsÂ and ignoresÂ soÂ manyÂ differentÂ human experiences.Â By all means,Â the course is interesting and has the potential to be aÂ positive force inÂ keeping Kingâ€™s history alive,Â but it makes no effort toÂ includeÂ modern, philosophical interpretationsÂ of experiences outside of our patriarchal view of history.
The AKC must modernise if itÂ wants to be taken seriously.
To see what the AKC had to say in response to this article, click here