Opening Borders and Challenging Boundaries:
By Carol A. Tebbs, MA
Welcome Kepler College trustees, faculty, friends and students,
The group of graduates who sit before us are the true embodiment of our 2006 theme, “Opening Borders and Challenging Boundaries”. The two women are Canadians, one born in Argentina, and our “alpha-male” is a local Washington resident. Though a small group, they represent the world-wide diversity of the students at Kepler College by nationality, age and gender. In case you are wondering at the term, “alpha male”, Roland Matthews is the first male graduate of Kepler College in three (3) classes. Fortunately, other men have taken up the gauntlet to study at Kepler College, and our first and second year classes are now equally men and women.
To expand on, “Opening Borders”, in the nearly seven (7) years Kepler College has been in operation, our students and graduates represent three (3) continents, eleven (11) nations, and many more ethnicities and cultures. They come internationally from countries spanning the globe, and in the U. S. from nineteen (19) states across the nation. The ages of our students have varied from seventeen (17) to (71), not possible in most other colleges that cater to youngsters away from home for the first time. Distance learning opens borders and is the key to the great student diversity we cherish so dearly here at Kepler College.
Challenging Boundaries is not new for Kepler College, a pioneer in distance learning with State Authorization to offer Associate, Bachelors and Masters degrees that include the study of astrology.
Now, we are poised again to challenge the boundaries of academic prejudice toward astrology by applying for Accreditation, the Academic “Gold Standard”.
However, in that process Kepler College faces several barriers: some organizational, some curricular and some financial.
A.First of all, specialized disciplines such as law, medicine, nursing, chiropractic, psychology and religion have their own U. S. Department of Education recognized accrediting commissions. Our specialized discipline of astrology does not. Therefore, Kepler College is limited to apply to one of the three (3) more general national or regional accrediting agencies “the old-fashioned way”, with a curriculum that shows clear evidence of recognizable “liberal arts”.
B.We have prepared for that challenge by revising the upper division curriculum into elective modules beginning with the junior year where BA students move from the integrated “core” curriculum to a series of electives in two (2) majors, and five (5) minor areas of study which include Classical Languages, Literature, Mythology, East/West Studies and Health Sciences.
C.Now students have more curriculum choice, and accreditation evaluators face liberal arts they recognize – a “win-win” situation for all. Eventually, majors and minors will be offered in all eight (8) fields of study listed in our Catalog, as soon as enrollment supports.
D.We can hope that the major astrology organizations will unite toward becoming a nationally authorized specialized accrediting body for both vocational astrology programs, and liberal arts programs such as Kepler’s, but we dare not wait for the decade of work and financial backing that effort might take. We need to challenge the barriers now.
E.Some may argue that the astrology community has done quite will without authorizations and accreditations thus far, but recent legislation is on the floor, HR 6008, that proposes to shut down any school or program purporting to offer degrees, diplomas or certificates, unless they are both authorized and accredited. WE JUST CAN’T WAIT! The distinct advantages of accreditation are many. Once the College is reviewed and accepted as a “Candidate”, Kepler students become eligible for government loans for tuition and books, and their credits become transferable to other colleges that have similar courses.
F.That said, other accredited colleges and universities have already accepted the Kepler College BA degree for entrance into their MA programs, and they DO have comparable programs and courses:
Students at the Warburg Institute at London University are, in some classes, expected to cast and read horoscopes as part of their study of Renaissance hermeticism.
Other precedents may be found in the MA and PhD programs of:
1.“Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness” at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco,
2.The program of, “Mythological Studies” at Pacifica University in Carpinteria, California;
3.And the, “Study of Western Esotericism” at the University of Wales in Lampeter.
Courses encompassing astrology at accredited colleges in the U.S are similar to those offered at Kepler College. Brown University in Rhode Island, offers a course called, “History of Astrology and History of Science” with the stated goals of:
1.Gaining knowledge of the role of astrology and its development in the context of world intellectual history;
2.Improving awareness and understanding of the natural phenomena that earlier societies regarded as inseparable from astrological practice…; and
3.Thinking critically about the [origins and] meaning of the concept of ‘science’…”.
Indeed, doesn’t that mirror the Kepler College Mission Statement? Some accrediting bodies argue that our focus is too narrow, but those same naysayers did not take into account the important learning of the cross-cultural heritage and transmission of cultures associated with the serious study of astrology.
Other precedents abound. At Columbia University in New York, the course, “Science and Astrological Theories in Pre-Modern Times” is offered which encompasses, “The development of astrological theories from ancient Babylonia until late medieval times and the impact of astrology on the formalization of scientific concepts”.
And at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, “History of the Occult and Witchcraft” is offered where among other topics, students explore, “… today’s misconceptions of astrology…” disproved by clear evidence that many pioneers of science, such as Kepler and Galileo, were experienced practitioners of astrology themselves, which they learned as “core” curriculum in the medieval university.
Armed with the academic precedents for the inclusion of astrology study at mainstream accredited colleges, Kepler stands well-armed against the critics of its “core” curriculum.
And of course, it goes without saying that every new college faces incredible financial obligations to provide funding for facilities, for salaries and for educational resources. All colleges rely upon tuition and donations to make ends meet, and Kepler College is no exception to the rule. Indeed, our exponential growth from one (1) class 6 years ago to six (6) classes now, without a similar six-fold increase in student enrollment, makes fund-raising at Kepler a critical need. If you want to volunteer to help, or know others who support the Kepler Mission, let us know.
Kepler College represents several constituencies: Trustees, Administration, Staff, Faculty, Students, Donors and Founders all who have invested their faith, their fortunes and their talents in moving Kepler College toward the “doorstep of the gold standard” of academic education – a nationally accredited liberal arts college with the study of astrology at its core.
Now, Graduates, go forth and open new borders and challenge new boundaries in your personal growth, in your careers and in your visions for a better future.
When Dante completed his final journey and reached “Paradise” he said, “I felt my will and my desire impelled by the Love that moves the Sun and the other Stars.” So may you graduates go forward and cherish your years at Kepler College.