Christ College Symposium

The Christ College Symposium is one of the long-standing traditions of Valparaiso’s Honors College providing an evening of stimulating thought and engaging conversation. Symposium events occur in two formats: the Distinguished Speakers Series and the more intimate Fireside Symposia.

The Speakers Series features exemplary scholars, artists, and public intellectuals addressing a common theme in a formal lecture.  The theme for 2019-20 is healing – In our fractured, war-torn, and contentious times, the world desperately needs healing. Over the course of the academic year, we will think, talk, and experience a variety of ways in which healing can occur, including healing through ecumenical conversations, health care, police work, music, and architecture, among others.  These public lectures are intended for audiences from the campus and civic community, as well as Christ College.

The 2019-2020 Distinguished Speaker Series:

Mueller Hall Refectory, 6:30 – 7:30 pm


Rewriting Place as Community Healing:

Facing the bombed-out House of Commons Winston Churchill declared “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.”  In Requiem for a Nun, William Faulkner declared, “The past is not dead; it’s not even past.”  The quotidian experience of place—town squares, theaters and churches, rural landscapes—presumes to remind us who we are. But places are often marked by the exploitation of those who have little power to build, memorialize, or otherwise construct public histories. This lecture explores the processes by which truth-telling can be an act of restorative public history.

Christopher Center, Community Room, 6:30 – 7:30 pm


Sister Disciplines: The Healing Truths of Poetry and Medicine:

Amit Majmudar is a novelist, poet, translator, essayist, and diagnostic nuclear radiologist (M.D.). He writes and practices in Westerville, Ohio, where he lives with his wife, twin sons, and daughter.  In 2015 he was named the first poet-laureate of the State of Ohio.  In this Symposium he will read poems that explore emotional, physical, and social health and healing.

Co-Sponsored by Wordfest.

Mueller Hall Refectory, 6:30 – 7:30 pm


Conscience and Fallibility: A Hard Case from the Past:

Tal Howard will discuss his latest book, The Pope and the Professor: Plus IX, Iganz von Dollinger, and the Quandary of the Modern Age.

Mueller Hall Refectory, 7:00 – 8:30 pm

College Behind Bars:  Reflections on Prison Education in Northwest Indiana

A panel discussion with Valpo and other area faculty involved in prison education with a viewing of scenes from PBS/Ken Burns’ recent, acclaimed documentary, College Behind Bars.  The discussion will focus on challenges and opportunities for universities involved in prison education.

Co-Sponsored by Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics, Department of Education.

Mueller Hall Refectory, 6:30 – 7:30 pm


New Deal Utopias:  Model Cities of the Great Depression

Award-Winning photographer Jason Reblondo will present a lecture about works from his various portfolios including New Deal Utopias and current work in progress.  A gallery walkthrough will follow his presentation.

Co-Sponsored by Valparaiso University’s Art Department.

Duesenberg Recital Hall, Center for the Arts, 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Islam and Religious Freedom

Tal Howard (Valparaiso University) will interview Professor Daniel Philpott (Political Science, University of Notre Dame) on his new book Religious Freedom in Islam: The Fate of a Universal Human Right in the Muslim World Today (Oxford University Press, 2019).

Spring 2020 Fireside Schedule:

Mueller Hall Commons, 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Homer and Healing:

Battles, gore, and glory. Wanderings and mythic monsters. Sound like what you remember from the Iliad and the Odyssey? These epic tales have indeed gone down in ancient Mediterranean lore as fantastical (and often violent) myths of gods and heroes, seemingly far removed from modern issues and concerns. But, how, then do we explain the many 21st century readings and public performances of these same Greek epics (and tragedies) in veteran organizations, correction centers, disadvantaged neighborhoods, and even the White House Emergency Operations Center (EOC)? Programs involving these ancient poems now have new titles such as “Coming Home—Homer’s Odyssey,” “Antigone in Ferguson,” “Prometheus in Prison,” “the Medea Project.” But, why ancient Greek epic and tragedy? And, specifically, why Homer?   There must be more to these myths than meets the eye! By examining passages from the Iliad and the Odyssey, we will start to uncover the healing potential of Homer’s epics and perhaps consider how we might bring this into our own communities as well.

Mueller Hall Commons, 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Healing, Suffering, and Holiness: How to Make a Modern Saint:

Strong evidence suggests that, throughout the history of Catholic sainthood, people have invoked the power of the saints for healing above all else. On the other hand, many of the most celebrated holy men and women became Catholic saints because of their acceptance of suffering. What to make of this juxtaposition of healing and suffering, apparently two opposite points on a pole, on either side of Catholic sainthood?

Dr. Painter’s talk will draw on her research into saints and the modern Catholic saint-making process to make two claims. First, she will suggest that we cannot speak of Christian healing separate from suffering – not because they are opposed, but because they are complementary.  Secondly, we can turn to the broadness and adaptability of sainthood as an example of how Christianity can continue to appeal to all those seeking healing, across time and space