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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

Reason and Faith on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

Central College, Pella Iowa, October 13-14, 2017

Save the Date

We kindly ask that you save the date for our fall conference entitled “Reason and Faith on the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation,” which will take place October 13-14, 2017 on the Central College campus in Pella, Iowa. This conference brings together five keynote speakers 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.

  • John Baxter (Dalhousie University — Halifax, Nova Scotia)
  • Christina Bieber Lake (Wheaton College — Wheaton, IL )
  • Jennifer Hockenberry Dragseth (Mt. Mary University — Milwaukee, WI)
  • Douglas Kries (Gonzaga University — Spokane, WA)
  • Albert Wolters (Redeemer University College — Ancaster, Ontario)

In April 2017 watch for a “call for papers” for those interested in presenting at the conference.

For more information, visit the Conference Website or contact directors Terry Kleven or Mark Thomas.

Posted by Joe Goss

Call for applications: Teaching Christian Intellectual Tradition Summer Institute on “Virgil and the Modern Christian Imagination”

Virgil and the Modern Christian Imagination

July 9-14, 2017

Samford University’s Teaching the Christian Intellectual Tradition Project seeks to promote a national conversation about the place of the Christian intellectual tradition in higher education. In particular, it is interested in helping faculty from across the disciplines to develop effective strategies for teaching this tradition, cultivating younger scholars who are still mastering their craft while providing opportunities for more experienced faculty to explore and experiment with new pedagogies. Under the leadership of the University Fellows Program and in partnership with local and national organizations, the TCIT Project hosts conferences, seminars, speakers and roundtables throughout the year, including a biennial national conference and a biennial residential summer institute.

The 2017 TCIT Summer Institute is on the theme, Virgil and the Modern Christian Imagination, led Dr. Bryan Johnson (Director & Professor, University Fellows), Dr. Christopher Metress (University Professor), and Dr. Shannon Flynt (Assistant Professor of Classics).

In “What is a Classic?” (1944), T.S. Eliot boldly claimed that Virgil stands “at the centre of European civilization, in a position which no other poet can share or usurp.” For Eliot, the “great ghost who guided Dante’s pilgrimage” and “led Europe towards the Christian culture which he could never know” should always guide the West because he produced not just a “universal classic,” but the “classic of all Europe.”

“Virgil and the Modern Christian Imagination” will provide faculty from across the disciplines the opportunity to explore the influence of Virgil on twentieth-century Christian poets and intellectuals, and to discuss strategies for teaching that influence to today’s undergraduates. Designed primarily for non-specialists, the seminar will open with a discussion of the Eclogues, the Georgics, and the Aeneid, and then turn to twentieth-century writers indebted to Virgil, including, but not limited to, Eliot, Haecker, Tate, Auden, Radnóti, Heaney, and Boland.

Hosted by the University Fellows Program at Samford University, these summer seminars place great value on collegiality and collaboration, combining intellectual rigor with southern hospitality. The seminar welcomes a mix of early-, mid-, and late-career faculty, and seeks to build lasting relationships that will promote teaching excellence and enrich our students’ understanding of the Christian Intellectual Tradition.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Hull Fund for Christian Scholarship, registration for the seminar is $50. Participants are responsible for the cost of their travel to and from campus, with housing, meals, course materials, and off-campus excursions covered by the University Fellows Program.

To apply, please send a short c.v. (2-3 pages) and a 250-word statement of interest to Dr. Bryan Johnson at Both documents should be sent as attachments, and the statement of interest should discuss how this seminar is important to your professional development.

Space is limited, and the deadline is May 1, 2017. All applicants will be notified by May 15.

Posted by Joe Creech

Christian Colleges and Bridge Building

Thomas Albert (Tal) Howard, The Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Ethics and Professor of History at Valparaiso University, is a former Lilly Postdoctoral Fellow (1997-1999). Here’s a link to his timely, insightful article from 2/14/17 on “Christian Colleges in the Age of Trump.”

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