The Christ College Symposium is one of the most hallowed traditions of Christ College. Each week, the CC community gathers together for an evening of stimulating discussion and debate on topics that are both timely and timeless. Throughout the academic year, Symposia will be offered in two formats: The Symposium Speakers Series (our featured lecture series) and Fireside Symposia (more intimate and interactive gatherings in the Mueller Hall Commons).
The Symposium Speakers Series will convene once a month during the academic year, and will feature internationally distinguished guest speakers. These symposia will be lecture-style, intended to reach large audiences from CC, the campus community, and the broader public. They form a series of events across the year, bringing together exemplary scholars, public intellectuals, and artists who will address a common theme from their distinct disciplinary perspectives.
The theme for this semester is “What is the good life? and our fireside symposia approach this question from a variety of angles ranging from civic experience to thinking through pluralism and poetry, as well as reflections from current CC seniors.  In addition, three CC students whose work has been accepted to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research will present their papers in a Student Scholarship Symposium. 

The 2018 Distinguished Speaker Series (Spring):


Duesenberg Recital Hall, Center for the Arts, 7:00 – 8:00 pm

Jacki Lyden ’75, author and host of National Public Radio’s The Seams, a multi-platform podcast and NPR series dedicated to the human experience of wearing clothing will discuss how the show is deepening the intellectual curiosity around what we wear and bringing together millions of public-radio audience members and the fashion world.  She will also discuss her 1997 memoirs of growing up with her mother’s mental illness, Daughter of the Queen of Sheba and Sheba, Dark and Lovely

Co-sponsored by Valparaiso University’s Wordfest, Cultural Arts Committee and Christ College.


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

David K. O’Connor is a faculty member in philosophy and classics at the University of Notre Dame.  His teaching and writing focus on ancient philosophy, aesthetics, ethics and politics, and philosophy of religion.  His online lectures on love and sexuality have reached a wide international audience, and are the basis of his two recent books, Love is Barefoot Philosophy, (2014) and Plato’s Bedroom: Ancient Wisdom and Modern Love (2015).

Co-sponsored by Valparaiso University’s Center for Church Vocations, The Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics and Christ College.



The 2018 Fireside Symposium Schedule (Spring):

Mueller Hall Commons, 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Samuel Graber, Assistant Professor of Humanities & Literature

As they begin to look beyond life at Valpo, many CC students are first asked to look back and construct a personal narrative making sense of their experiences and choices. Graduate programs, grants, and fellowships often make telling one’s story a key component of their application processes. Yet crafting a personal narrative does not have to be merely another hoop to jump through on the way to a rewarding career. As the anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson has argued, carefully and creatively “composing” life stories can be empowering, and this year’s seniors have produced personal narratives that can help all of us better understand ourselves and the world around us. Join Professors Sam Graber and Anna Stewart as well as a panel of Christ College seniors as they share their stories and discuss the exciting possibilities that can arise when we compose a life story.

Mueller Hall Commons, 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Slavica Jakelic, Associate Professor of Humanities & Social Thought with Professor Elizabeth Lynn, Professor Byron Martin and Professor Heath Carter

Philosophers, theologians, and ethicists have long been writing about the ideal of the good life, affirming it often in terms of pursuit of self-knowledge, self-cultivation, and flourishing. But what does this broad and abstract view of the good life mean today, especially in terms of the roles we ought play in our own society and in terms of responsibility we have to one another? Can the visions and practices of civic responsibility help us understand and enact the ideals of the good life more deeply and more concretely? In short, what is the place of the individual and collective commitment to creating the conditions of a more just society–the one with the more just and equal economic, racial, and gender relations–in how we talk about, and how we live, the good life?

Mueller Hall Commons, 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Edward Upton, Assistant Professor of Humanities

Professor Edward Upton will talk with two of Valpo’s renowned resident poets, Chelsea and Mark Wagenaar. They will discuss the nature of poetry and the process of creative writing. In addition, the Wagenaars will read excerpts from their published collections. Join us for an exciting evening of reflection on the beauty and power of poetry.

Mueller Hall Commons, 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Matthew Puffer, Assistant Professor of Humanities & Ethics

Individuals and communities pursuing different visions of the good life often find themselves in disagreement with one another regarding how we ought to order our life together. About such basic issues as food production and consumption, poverty and wealth inequality, access to higher education, and the criminal justice system, there exist a wide range of deeply held convictions in our society, each of which infringes upon others’ abilities to pursue their preferred version of the good life. Who should get to pursue their vision of the good life when not all can? And how should we justify such infringements?

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