2019-2020 Symposium Schedule

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, Wednesday, October 30, 2019, 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Community Room – Christopher Center, Thursday, October 31, 2019, 9:00 a.m.

Lutheran Voices Lecture Series

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.

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 Reblando 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).

Harre Union Ballrooms, 5:00 p.m. Concert followed by a 6 p.m. Panel Discussion

SoundScapes: A Sensory Friendly Lecture-Concert in Celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

No Admission Cost.

Co-sponsored by The Institute for Leadership and Service, The Valparaiso University Music Department, the Valparaiso University Cultural Arts Committee and the City of Valparaiso-Human Rights Council, Valparaiso University’s Music Therapy and Christ College


Harre Union Ballroom A, 7:30 – 8:30 pm

What a (Modern) Monk Does:  Saving the World’s Manuscript Heritage from Imminent Danger:

Father Columba Stewart is a Benedictine monk who works to preserve endangered manuscripts in global conflict zones. His Phi Beta Kappa lecture will describe this Benedictine-inspired project that began in Cold War Europe to microfilm monastic manuscripts and now digitizes manuscripts across religious traditions in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, especially in locations where they are under threat of destruction or their communities are being dislocated by ethnic and religious conflicts.

Co-Sponsored by Valparaiso University’s College of Arts and Sciences

Christopher Center, Community Room, 9:50 am – 5:00 pm

LFP Conference: Religion, State, and Nationalism: Problems and Possibilities:

Valparaiso University invites you to a special symposium, “Religion, State, and Nationalism: Problems and Possibilities,” on April 24, 2020. The symposium will take place in three sessions, with the first focusing on problems, the second on possibilities, and the third on integrating issues of faith, nationalism, and the problems of historical memory into undergraduate curricula.

Co-Sponsored by Valparaiso University’s Lilly Fellows Program


Spring 2020 Fireside Schedule:

Mueller Hall Commons, 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Documentary Film Making and Healing:

Join Senior Digital Media major Carmen Vincent and Finance major Evan Knowles as they discuss how they seek to help people feel heard through documentary film.

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