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

The Eucharist and Hope for Christian Unity in an Age of Division: An Ecumenical Discussion:

A familiar scene unfolds in Churches throughout the world. The appointed time for Holy Communion arrives, and the members of the congregation either approach or abstain from receiving God’s gift. For many, the decision to abstain is not made voluntarily, but imposed by disciplinary codes that require unity in faith before all partake of the one loaf and cup. A provisional welcome is extended to those who are not united in faith: come, and pray with us, but do not share in the meal.

Disputes and divisions of old and new have established Communion for some, but not all, as the status quo for many mainstream Christian Churches. Some are content with this status quo; some are not aware of rules of participation; some are scandalized and seek ways to unite the divided through the Eucharist.

What are the obstacles to restoring communion? What do divided Christians have in common? Do we dare hope to be one, as Jesus and his Father are one? Join four panelists representing the ELCA, LCMS, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox traditions for honest and prayerful reflections on these issues.


Rev. Dr. Robert C. Saler is Executive Director of the Center for Pastoral Excellence, Associate Dean, and Research Professor of Religion and Culture at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis.

Rev. James Wetzstein is University Pastor at Valparaiso University and a doctoral student in the Liturgical Studies program at the University of Notre Dame.

Fr. Chris Stanish is pastor of St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Student Center in Valparaiso, Indiana.

Nicholas Denysenko is Jochum Professor and Chair at Valparaiso University. 

Harre Union Ballroom A, 5:30 – 6:30 pm

Chronic Pain, Sustaining Faith: Hope and Healing in Research and Real Life:

A pastor and a scholar, Dr. Rhee is currently working on a book on chronic pain and disability, and speaks on this issue both in the context of early Christian history and as it relates to her own personal experience as someone living with chronic pain. She specializes in early Christian history, especially second- and third-century Christian literature and theology, focusing on the diverging Christian self-identities in relation to Greco-Roman culture and society.

Co-Sponsored by The Institute for Leadership and Service.

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

Police and Society: On Understanding as a Path Towards Healing:

Current controversies in police work, especially those involving race and the use of force, have driven a wedge between the police and the people they serve.  Sgt. Plantinga will discuss these difficult issues with an emphasis on how the police and the public must each better understand the other in order to restore healing and trust.

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


Surgical Registers: How Verbal Precision Advanced Medical Professionalism in the Civil War Era:

“Surgical Registers” explores the variety of audiences that Civil War surgeons had to consider as they substantiated their claims to professionalism during the Civil War. The war offered aspiring physicians, many of whom had little prewar training, an unparalleled laboratory for learning surgical technique and military etiquette. Despite the lack of system that initially imperiled medicine, Civil War surgeons understood that they needed to speak differently to their medical peers, their staff subordinates, their military superiors, and to their patients.  Attending to these different registers helped them raise the status of medicine by the end of the war—no mean feat given the contempt in which many were held in the prewar era.

Chapel of the Resurrection, 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Works of Love: Sister Elizabeth Fedde and Service to the Neighbor:

The life of Norwegian-American deaconess Elizabeth Fedde provides entry to consider Lutheran understanding of Christian freedom and to reconsider the role of works and social service among contemporary Lutherans worldwide.

Co-Sponsored by Valparaiso University’s Church Relations and CORE.

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

Contemplation and Well-Being

Why is contemplation a necessary part of human well-being? How does the Christian tradition contribute to our pursuit of it, and how will our lives, and our loves, be different based on our contemplation? Meghan Sullivan is a philosophy professor at the University of Notre Dame who teaches a popular course called God and the Good Life, and works on philosophical programs of time, rational planning, and religious belief. Professor Sullivan’s talk will share the why and how of contemplative practice, addressing questions of what to contemplate, the role of emotions, and whether contemplation is solitary or communal. She’ll discuss how we can practice contemplation as 21st century people while demonstrating the difference between Christian contemplation and other contemplative traditions.

Co-Sponsored by Valparaiso University’s Department of Philosophy.




The 2019-2020 Fireside Next Steps Schedule:

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

Susan VanZanten, Dean of Christ College and Professor of Humanities and Literature

Dean Susan VanZanten’s Annual Address to the CC Community


Mueller Hall Commons, 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Anna Stewart, Assistant Dean of Christ College

Figuring out how to effectively represent yourself, your background, and your skills in a page or two can be challenging. How do you succinctly communicate your academic strengths and valuable undergraduate experiences (extracurriculars, service, and internships) to potential graduate schools and employers?  Join Anna Stewart, Assistant Dean of Christ College, to explore successful strategies for crafting a compelling resume.


Mueller Hall Commons, 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Anna Stewart, Assistant Dean of Christ College


Mueller Hall Commons, 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Christ College Graduates

A panel of Christ College graduates will reflect on ways their Valparaiso experiences shaped essential aspects of their careers, relationships, and spiritual lives.


Mueller Hall Commons, 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Jennifer Prough, Associate Professor of Humanities and East Asian Studies


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

Dean Susan VanZanten and Selected Upper Classmen




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