Higher Education Symposium
Santa Monica Symposium
Each year at the Consortium, we organize at least one Symposium led by a prolific writer, speaker, or theologian. Topics have included biblical theology, spiritual formation, church and society, and higher education. With hopes of hosting Dallas Willard and discussing his work in progress, The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge, we planned our Higher Education Symposium out west in Santa Monica, California. Due to health problems of our dear brother who is now with our Lord and savior, we sought a last minute stand-in for Dr. Willard, and read one of his completed works, Knowing Christ Today. Despite the seemingly irreplaceable heart and mind of Dr. Willard, we managed to find a more than acceptable substitute, Claremont Graduate School Professor of Education Mary Poplin. Under the difficult circumstances, Mary Poplin did a good job relating her interests, and our work to Dallas’ book Knowing Christ Today.
Professor Poplin teaches courses in pedagogy, learning theory, qualitative research, philosophy, and worldviews. She developed the current CGU Teacher Education Internship program from 1985-1995 increasing the candidates from 25 to 100 and the percentage of students of color from 6% to 50% and was first to require all candidates to have special expertise in ELL. She also led the revitalization of the program from 2000-2004 and was Dean of the School of Educational Studies from 2002-2004. She and John Rivera published an article on the re-visioning of the program in Theory into Practice in 2006. She developed and directs the Institute for Education in Transformation whose goal is to advance justice and accountability in the schools through relevant research and practice.
In 1996, Mary worked for two months with Mother Teresa in Calcutta to understand why she said their work was “religious work and not social work.” Her book on this experience, Finding Calcutta, was published by InterVarsity Press in 2008 and is also available in Korean and Chinese. She is a frequent speaker in Veritas Forums, which began at Harvard, but has spread to over 60 universities around the world.
Alongside our wonderful discussion leader, we were blessed with a great turnout from Study Center Members, Partner Organizations, and a few new faces. John Mulholland from the Charles Malik Society at the University of Chicago, Missy Deregibus from Cogito at Hampden-Sydney College, and Bryan Bademan from MacLaurin CSF at the University of Minnesota made the trek to Santa Monica on their own from their Centers. Karl Johnson and his Board President, Linda Fuchs, flew in from Chesterton House at Cornell University. Director Chad Donohoe, and Kevin Lee from the Oread Center at the University of Kansas made a vacation out of the excursion and brought their wives and were able to extend their stay. Co-directors of the Arizona Center for Christian Studies, Ben Sanders and Bill Gentrup, drove in from Arizona State University. And finally, Bob Osburn, former director of Bryan Bademan’s Center, and current director of Wilberforce Academy in Minneapolis, made it to the Symposium, as well.
Discussion topics included secularism, miracles, spirituality, and humanism just to name a few. While discussing their roles everywhere in the world, we especially examined these themes inside the university and their impact on the people and the institutions. How is it that Christian Study Centers can be the salt and light in a secular school?
After both three-hour discussions, the participants engaged in what tends to be a favorite part of any Consortium event. A walk through the 3rd Street Promenade and along the Pacific coast, a big dinner together, and casual conversation back at the hotel proved to be a catalyst for ideas, friendship, and encouragement. Whether it is advice in hiring staff, building a website, bringing in a certain speaker, or the next step in development, the Study Center folks were eager to share their thoughts, experiences and wisdom with each other.