Geneva College
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Colloquia Series - Spring 2009

Pop quiz: What do the following people have in common: A leading figure in the intelligent design movement; a close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King; an expert on Herman Melville; and a rising name in all things dealing with immigration?

Answer: They were all featured presenters in the Colloquia Series at Geneva College.

The Colloquia Series began three years ago as a way to expose the campus and surrounding community to some of the compelling ideas and practices that shape the world in which we live. Topics range from the socio-cultural and scientific to the religious and literary, and encourage listeners to thoughtfully engage our culture.

“The invited guests that comprise the Colloquia Series each year are selected for their unique capacities to help make progress in these regards,” explains Academic Dean David Guthrie, who coordinates speaker selections. “The conversations that are spawned from guests’ presentations offer rich opportunities to consider and to formulate responses intellectually and practically.”

The speakers cover a wide range of topics, most drawn from their areas of expertise. This semester alone, the Geneva community heard from a nationally renowned social critic (Andrew Delbanco), a Welsh filmmaker and journalist (Gary Pritchard) and a former high school football coach whose life inspired the film Remember the Titans (Herman Boone). The final speaker of the semester, Dr. David Kirp of the University of California at Berkeley, serves on President Obama’s transitions team in the area of educational policy. Unfortunately, Kirp was unable to attend this year’s event, but will be a guest for next year’s Colloquia Series.

“All of the guests that we have had on campus this year have lived up to these high expectations and more, covering topics as diverse as American politics to global economies, and from overcoming bigotry to the legacy of Abraham Lincoln,” says Guthrie.

Sophomore history major Tony McClure was especially interested in Delbanco’s talks. He says that Delbanco gave an accurate portrayal of Lincoln's belief that the Civil War was fought over a lack of collective thought and communication. “Delbanco's research shows the true work of a scholar,” he says. “He allowed Lincoln to speak for himself by using this historical figure's language.”

While not all of the Colloquia speakers are professing Christians, their talks focus on ideas and subjects that Christians need to focus on. “I think the faculty agrees that students’ perspectives have been augmented in important ways beyond what they achieve in the classroom,” Guthrie says. “And, more importantly, the Colloquia series has challenged them to think hard regarding faithful Christian responses to complex ideas and practices.”

- Jason Panella '04

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