The Seventh Annual Day of Common Learning
The Day of Common Learning is a campus in-service day during which faculty, staff and students have the opportunity to participate together in a learning community outside our traditional classrooms. This year's theme is Beauty.
Beauty, Love, Justice, and Worship
Nicholas Wolterstorff, Emeritus Professor of Philosophical Theology at Yale Divinity School
Wednesday, October 15, 2008, 10:00 a.m.
Royal Brougham Pavilion
The day will begin on Wednesday, October 15th, with a public keynote address, Beauty, Love, Justice, and Worship, by Professor Nicholas Wolterstorff, faculty emeritus of philosophical theology at Yale Divinity School.
Nicholas Wolterstorff, Ph.D., is faculty emeritus of philosophical theology at Yale Divinity School, where he previously held the Noah Porter Professorship of Philosophical Theology. He earned his B.A. at Calvin College and his doctorate. from Harvard.
After concentrating on metaphysics at the beginning of his career, Dr. Wolterstorff spent many years working on aesthetics and philosophy of art, publishing Works and Worlds of Art (Oxford, 1980) and Art in Action: Toward a Christian Aesthetic (Eerdmans 1980; 2nd ed., 1995). He then produced seminal work in epistemology (John Locke and the Ethics of Belief, Cambridge, 1996; Thomas Reid and the Story of Epistemology, Cambridge, 2001); political philosophy (Until Justice and Peace Embrace, Eerdmans, 1983; 2nd ed., 1994); and philosophy of religion (Divine Discourse, Cambridge, 1995). His newest book, Justice: Rights and Wrongs, will be available in 2008 from Princeton University Press.
He has been president of the American Philosophical Association (Central Division) and of the Society of Christian Philosophers. His current research brings together two of his earlier interests: beauty and justice and how they relate. Dr. Wolterstorff has long been a thoughtful and articulate spokesperson for Christian higher education, and his Educating for Shalom: Essays on Christian Higher Education (Eerdmans, 2004) won the first Lilly Fellows Network Book Award.
In the afternoon, the Center for Scholarship and Faculty Development will hold two concurrent one-hour sessions of forums, seminars and panel presentations, led by faculty, staff and students. The first session will be held from 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m. and the second from 2:00 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.
The Psychology of Physical Beauty: Characteristics,
Consequences, and Costs
Margaret A. Marshall, Associate Professor of Psychology
Otto Miller Hall 109
Human physical beauty is an intriguing concept with important psychological ramifications. Physical appearance can have a strong effect on our self-concept and also on the way we perceive our social world. In this session, we will discuss three popular themes in this area of psychology: the characteristics of physical beauty, including cross-cultural perspectives; the social consequences of physical beauty; and the psychological costs of the modern obsession with physical beauty.
Beast … and the Beauty
Jeffrey Overstreet, Communications Specialist in University Communications
Demaray Hall 258
From Cookie Monster to King Kong, from Frankenstein to the vampires of Twilight, from Dracula to Hannibal Lecter … We go on loving stories about monsters. And in almost every monster story, beauty plays a meaningful role. What is it about a beauty that attracts a beast? Drawing from fairy tales, poetry, brain science, books by Annie Dillard and Flannery O’Connor, contemporary cinema, personal experiences, and Psalm 19, Jeffrey Overstreet shares how his puzzlement about beauty led to Cyndere’s Midnight, his new novel about a monster’s transformation, and he asks if beauty might not be God’s language — the spell that redeems us from our own “beastly” nature.
A Just Measure: The Beauty and Justice of Physics, the Physics of
Justice and Beauty
Doug Thorpe, Professor of English
Stamatis Vokos, Professor of Physics
A physics professor and a literature professor explore together the relationship between physics, aesthetics, and justice. Might all three of these meet in Wisdom?
Is a Melody Beautiful Without Harmony?
Religion, Rock and Roll, and Relationships
Debby Espinor, Assistant Professor of Education
Stephen Newby, Associate Professor of Music; Director of University Ministries and the Center for Worship
Demaray Hall 150
Consider the idea of a melody and how it relates to other melodies, which provides harmonic structure. Is there a parallel to our lives as we seek God, seek others, and seek a creative outlet for ourselves? What makes music beautiful to our ears and what makes our life beautiful to ourselves and others? How do we relate what we find beautiful to people from different cultures as they explore beauty through music?
Beauty and the Beasts: How Our Ideas About Appearance Affect
the Way We Relate to God’s Creatures
Kathleen Braden, Professor of Geography
AARF (Animals Are Really Fantastic) Student Club
Snow leopards are beautiful, but who will save the naked mole rat? Ecologists worry that only “designer” species may be kept from extinction in the future, as society makes choices about our conservation dollars. Why are some animals so appealing to the human eye while others make us shudder? Would the Mexican red-kneed bird-eating spider make it onto a modern Noah’s Ark? Join us for some interactive fun to explore your own notions about what’s ugly and what’s beautiful in the animal kingdom.
Making and Mending: Art That Redeems the Past
Katie Kresser, Assistant Professor of Art
Laura Lasworth, Professor of Art
Seattle Pacific Art Gallery
In conjunction with the exhibition “Invisible and Unwelcomed People,” by artist Zhi Lin, this session will provide an introduction to strategies artists use in their quest to make beauty and justice coincide. Come for a thematic discussion followed by a visit to the SPAC gallery. Zhi Lin is an associate professor in the School of Art at the University of Washington. Born in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China, he relocated to the United States in 1989. Lin's recent work aims to expose oppression and give a voice to the voiceless.
Beauty and the Soul’s Delight: How a Joyful Appreciation of
Beauty Can Assist in Men’s and Women’s Struggles Against Pornography
Matthew Koenig, Associate Director of University Ministries
Paula Green, Residence Life Coordinator
Library Seminar Room
With growing public acceptance of pornography and associated growth in the production of pornographic material, we do well to include it in a conversation about beauty. This session will define pornography loosely enough to include material directed at both men and women. We will explore how an attraction to pornography paradoxically contains a (distorted) attraction to beauty. While the Christian condemnation of pornography is justified for its degradation of the souls of men and women and its destruction of relationships, we will suggest that the rejection of pornography often brings with it a rejection of beauty. Discovering, concentrating on, and imitating the beauty of God and the beauty of nature can bring joy to the soul and crowd out our unwanted impulses. The session will end with suggested practices for enlisting beauty in the battle against pornography. Both men and women are invited to attend.
Enduring Beauty Amidst Fractured Landscapes:
The Columbia River Wanapum Indian Experience
Richard Scheuerman, Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction
As pacifists who contend with life between Hanford Nuclear Reservation and Yakima Firing Range, the Wanapum band of the middle Columbia region bring significant perspectives to bear on maintaining cultural beauty and identity in the 21st century. The remarkable Wanapum have maintained many distinct aspects of their culture in their ancestral homeland through a series of unique agreements with state and federal authorities. This session will examine how their lives are a testimony to both an appreciation of the beauty of God’s natural creation and a commitment to non-violence — an important tenet of their 19th-century prophet, Smohalla.
Is Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder?
Jaeil Lee, Associate Professor of Family and Consumer Sciences
Sharleen Kato, Professor of Family and Consumer Sciences
Vera Njuguna, Student Panelist
Bel Aldrett, Student Panelist
Karene Takamura, Student Panelist
Demaray Hall 358
We all know that physical beauty comes with tremendous power and benefits. Those who possess it are often more successful in school, love, work, and life. Advertising and other forms of media are usually blamed for our insecurities and our desire for extreme physical beauty. But is beauty really defined by culture? If so, is it always bad? Some evidence suggests that standards of beauty are inborn. Babies respond to beauty. Symmetry, feature placement, and beauty ideals of body mass cross both racial and ethnic lines. Ideals that accentuate youth and the prospect of fertility are cross-cultural. This forum will explore innate programming toward beauty, as well as our own “lived” experiences as we socially construct standards of beauty. Student panelists will respond with stories from their own experience.
The Beauty of Diversity: Fostering a Positive Learning Environment
Matthew Okun, Adjunct Professor in the School of Education
Demaray Hall 261
When we look across the faces of our students in a classroom, we see many things. We notice components of their personal appearance, their clothes, the way they wear their hair, and even what kind of shoes they prefer. But, as teachers, we should try to see each student as a beautiful human being. We need to employ a much broader definition of beauty. Each of these students possesses an inner God-given beauty which we have an obligation to foster. To do this, teachers have to try to identify and understand the individual needs of each student. In this session, we will discuss how the beauty of each student’s distinctive personality tacitly implores us to differentiate our curriculum and encourage acceptance, engagement, and progress from every student.
The Heavens Declare the Glory of God
Rod Stiling, Professor of History
Demaray Hall 353
This session considers Johannes Kepler’s vision of divine beauty in the heavens. He, along with many other 17th-century astronomers and cosmologists, understood heavenly beauty in terms of geometry.
Healing Beauty: Clinicians Reflect on Issues Surrounding Beauty
Shawn Whitney, Mental Health Counselor
Erinn Koerselman, Mental Health Counselor
Sara Rehberg, Eating Disorder Specialist
Otto Miller Hall 127
Is our view of beauty distorted? How does this distortion affect our selves, relationships, and health? What can we do to heal beauty? Please join three clinicians from SPU’s Student Counseling Center to reflect on these issues.
Dr. Seuss and the Poetics of Beauty: Why the Grinch,
Sneetches, and Lorax Matter Today
Jeff Keuss, Associate Professor of Christian Ministry
Our understanding of aesthetics and beauty is formed in childhood. For many of us in Western culture, one of the great unacknowledged teachers on beauty is Dr. Seuss. The session will take a look at Theodore Geisel’s (a.k.a. ‘Dr. Seuss’) children’s literature including The Lorax, The Sneetches on Beaches, The Cat in the Hat, The Cat in the Hat Came Back, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and Horton Hears a Who. In addition to reflections on Geisel’s imagery at play with his use of anapestic tetrameter, the session will consider two ways in which Geisel teaches children to anticipate the beautiful in life: First, that language (or form) always gives way to meaning if it is to render beauty; and second, that surrealism (the realm of the imagination and faith) is more the place of deep meaning and belief than realism (the realm of certainty) is.
Leading Beautifully: Practicing the Art of Leadership
Joey Collins, Assistant Professor of Organizational Psychology
Margaret Diddams, Professor of Organizational Psychology
Robert McKenna, Associate Professor of Organizational Psychology
Paul Yost, Associate Professor of Organizational Psychology
Demaray Hall 356
Great leaders are not necessarily those who can successfully lead a cavalry charge. Instead, they envision their leadership as an unfolding, interdependent, and mutual partnership by which they co-create the future with the people they lead. Using metaphors from the visual arts, dance, and music, and drawing on theories associated with mastery, character, and authentic leadership, this workshop will discuss how great leaders draw on the gifts and potentials of others as the skills they use to lead beautifully.
Beauty and the Bible
Rob Wall, Professor of Christian Scriptures
Sara Koenig, Assistant Professor of Old Testament
Demaray Hall 360
This session will explore two different ways of considering Scripture’s attention to beautiful creatures. Dr. Sara Koenig will explore images of physical beauty in biblical narrative, which sometimes differ in their literary and theological import, in order to critique culture's preoccupation with glamour. Dr. Rob Wall will explore “the aesthetic principle” and its effect in forming the New Testament. The final literary shape of this sacred creature not only offers an effective pattern of discipleship but a theological judgment about the meaning of the Gospel.
The Beauty of Pregnancy and Birth
Mary Fry, Associate Professor of Nursing
Karen Goheen, Adjunct Professor in the School of Health Sciences
Through visual imagery and story, this session will explore the experience of pregnancy and birth, focusing on the mystery of new life, the empowering growth of a new sense of womanhood, and the strengthening of family bonds. Discussion will concern how to prepare for a spiritual and positive growth experience through pregnancy and birth. Ways to maintain these positive experiences while balancing the realistic use of technology and high-risk care will be explored.
Schiller, Beauty, and Morality
Eric Hanson, Professor of Music
Patrick McDonald, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Owen Ewald, Assistant Professor of Classics
Friedrich Schiller, drawing on Kant and German Idealism, makes a connection between beauty and morality. This panel will briefly discuss questions such as “Is beauty moral?” from artistic, philosophical, and historical perspectives.
Nicholas Wolterstorff: A Philosophical Profile
Steve Layman, Professor of Philosophy
This session will provide the opportunity to learn more about the distinguished work of the Day of Common Learning’s plenary speaker, Nicholas Wolterstorff. Drawing on works such as Reason Within the Bounds of Religion, Faith and Rationality, Art in Action, Until Justice and Peace Embrace, and Justice: Rights and Wrongs, the session will provide a brief overview of Wolterstorff’s distinctive views in three main areas of philosophy: epistemology, axiology, and metaphysics.
All events are open to the public.