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On Christian Unity

Thomas Albert Howard’s new post at the Anxious Bench blog provides interesting and important insights on the importance of ecumenism for the fulfillment of the gospel, especially in light of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary. Find it here:

Posted by Joe Goss

From the Colloquium

The Spring 2017 semester of the Postdoctoral Fellows colloquium at Valparaiso University continues to explore the integration of Christian identity and the teaching vocation. We have benefited from in-depth discussion of the practical situation of the college teacher, as well. Ken Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do has helped the group explore best practices as well as frustrations in the college classroom, opening up reflection on the telos of teaching, definitions of student excellence and success, and just what counts as great teaching. Bain’s book offers useful advice on setting standards, promoting intellectual excitement and curiosity, getting students to take responsibility for their learning, how to maintain students’ attention, and the role of lecturing—among many other things, as well.

Selections from the respective works of Mary Catherine Bateson and Dan McAdams offered the chance to think about the overall narrative in which our teaching is embedded, and what makes a good, and meaningful, life story. We considered the different significance of stories marked by continuity or discontinuity, the importance of developmental transitions, and whether we are called to provide a certain kind of repertoire of stories to our students. Is the syllabus a narrative construction? Are the texts we choose characters in a story? What might be the purpose of whatever story we’re telling? A screening of The Wild Child, the 1970 classic film by Franҫois Truffaut, invited the group to consider these questions further and in other lights, raising important questions about the teacher’s motivations and methods. Education and civilization seem to work together, but Truffaut’s film shows a tension between them, too.

The Fellows themselves have provided the material for the colloquium since then. Each week, one Fellow has submitted a reflective essay to the group. The mentor for each Fellow has delivered a response in person to the whole group, and discussion has proceeded from the combined insights and questions of each Fellow and his or her mentor. It’s exciting to witness the ongoing process of vocational discernment demonstrated in the Fellows’ writings. At the end of a long Monday, the colloquium group has been rejuvenated as we have revisited important, exciting, and sometimes confusing and frightening, moments from our teaching past. Their essays have led us into important discussions about such things as Christian motivation and mission in the classroom, the sustainability of Christian higher education, the challenges of religious diversity, adapting to different ways students learn, treating students holistically as full persons, our personal struggles as teachers, the role of mystery in the educational experience, and the challenges of teaching—and demonstrating—empathy to our students. It has been a rich, full season in the Postdoctoral Fellows colloquium.

Posted by Joe Goss

Call for Papers: “Reason and Faith on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation”

We are pleased to announce a Call for Papers the fall LFP regional conference entitled “Reason and Faith on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation,” which will take place October 13-14 on the Central College campus in Pella, Iowa. This conference brings together scholars and educators from a variety of Christian denominations, both Protestant and Catholic, in order to discuss the relation of reason and faith as it is understood in both the academy and Church over the past five hundred years.

In addition to five keynote speakers, the conference invites scholarly participation in the form of paper presentations from a range of disciplinary perspectives. Papers should focus on an aspect of the relation between faith and reason as it pertains to the Protestant Reformation or the Counter-Reformation, either historically or in its consequences, especially pertaining to education.

A more detailed rationale and call for papers can be found on the conference website:

Proposals can be submitted through the website as well. The deadline for submission is July 1.

Posted by Joe Goss

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