17 September 2020

Facing the Darkness: The (Human) Nature of Evil

In this interdisciplinary theology seminar, we shall probe the origin and nature of evil by engaging key biblical, philosophical, psychological, and anthropological resources. Central to our discussions will be a sapiential (wisdom-oriented) re-reading of the Fall narrative of Genesis 3–4, set against the backdrop of the good, yet largely wild, creation of Genesis 1–2. In addition to surveying a variety of contemporary theodicies read up against the challenge offered by both “protest atheism” and the biblical lament literature (especially the book of Job), we shall also pay special attention to the correlation between victim and agent in the ongoing dynamics to “original sin” and to the concomitant role of fear in the construction of culture. In attending to evil’s (arguably) anthropocentric origin as a key to its present nature—which will prompt us to revisit our understanding of the primordial conditions of possibility along with the largely overlooked biblical connections between the Satan and the absolutization (and denaturing) of Justice—we shall also look ahead, via pondering the relationship between law and grace, to the promise of a (divine and human) judgment unto salvation. 

Key words: conditions of possibility, the demonic, free-will defense, idolatry, innocent suffering, Job, justice, mercy, natural evil, the serpent, theodicy, wisdom

Dr. Nik Ansell
ICS 120801 / 220801 F20
ICT3352HF / ICT6352HF L0101*
Distance (Online Synchronous)
Thursdays, 2 - 5pm

(MA, PhD)

Syllabus


*Attention TST students: you have to contact the ICS Registrar to complete your registration. 

The Aesthetics of Compassion

The emotion of “pity” (eleos) or “compassion” is at the heart of Athenian tragedy, the great forbear of Western tragic drama. For Aristotle, creating feelings of pity and fear in an audience was thought to provoke a catharsis of those emotions that enabled a positive moderation of our passionate natures. But, as George Steiner has observed, the subject matter of tragedy places those emotions in a register beyond the ordinary. As fundamental human responses to extraordinary human suffering, they signal the “core of dynamic negativity” that underwrites authentic tragedy. Raising the problem of human pain and fragility in the face of circumstances potentially beyond human control, representations of human suffering have a metaphysical and, more particularly, theological dimension that has long provoked philosophical interest in the dynamics of tragic drama. In this course, we will examine the interface between philosophy and works of tragic drama as that interface pertains to the psychology and aesthetics of compassion. Looking to such writers as Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Augustine, Dante, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Friedrich Nietzsche and Simone Weil, we will investigate the place of compassion in Western philosophy and theology and the roles that art and imagination have played in the stimulation of compassionate response. 


Dr. Rebekah Smick
ICS 120104 / 220104 F20
ICH5751HF L0101*
Distance (Online Synchronous)
Thursdays, 10am - 1pm

(MWS, MA, PhD)

Syllabus


*Attention TST students: you have to contact the ICS Registrar to complete your registration. 

16 September 2020

Hermeneutics and Deconstruction

Against the background of Heidegger's Being and Time, this seminar will contrast Gadamerian "Hermeneutics" and   Derridean "Deconstruction." Attention will then focus on Derridean John D. Caputo's 2019 Cross and Cosmos as an exercise in reading-with as rabbi/poet.

Dr. Jim Olthuis
ICS 120901 / 220901 F20
Distance (Online Synchronous)
Wednesdays, 10am - 1pm

(MA, PhD)

Syllabus


*Attention TST students: if you are interested in taking this course for credit, you must petition your college of registration to count the course credit toward your degree program.

15 September 2020

Nietzsche, Foucault, and the Genealogical Approach to the History of Philosophy

This seminar examines that philosophical approach to the history of philosophy that travels under the name of “genealogy”.  It does so in terms of selected texts of the tradition’s to major figures: its founder, Friederich Nietzsche and the presently ubiquitous Michel Foucault.  It examines the role that genealogical study of the history of philosophy has in the philosophical construction of its practitioners and what they think is truly first and deepest in the history they so study.

Dr. Bob Sweetman
ICS 120406 / 220406 F20
ICH5710HF L0101*
Distance (Online Synchronous)
Tuesdays, 10am - 1pm

(MA, PhD)

Syllabus


*Attention TST students: you have to contact the ICS Registrar to complete your registration. 

14 September 2020

Biblical Foundations: Narrative, Wisdom, and the Art of Interpretation

How can we read and experience the Scriptures as the Word of Life in the midst of an Academy that believes the biblical witness will restrict human freedom and thwart our maturity? How may we pursue biblical wisdom as we “re-think the world” when our Christian traditions seem convinced that biblical truth may be disconnected from—or simply applied to—the most pressing and perplexing issues of our time? 

This course will explore the Bible—from Genesis to Revelation—as the ongoing story of and for God and all God’s creatures, paying special attention to the way in which humanity’s attempt to find its way is interwoven with the story of the Divine presence and with the wisdom and promise of creation-new creation. In asking whether and how the biblical story may find its future in our ongoing narratives, we will attempt to identify which hermeneutical methods and sensitivities might help us discern its significance for present day life, including the academic enterprise. 

If Jesus is the Living Word at the heart of Scripture, does that change our understanding of where biblical truth is coming from and where it is going? Does the Bible have an implicit, sapiential pedagogy that we have misconstrued? Can the familiar Reformed themes of creation and covenant, election and eschaton speak to us in new, reformational ways? These are some of the questions we shall explore together as we reintroduce ourselves to the biblical writings.

Keywords: apocalyptic, biblical authority, Christocentric, covenant, creation-fall-redemption, grace and law, hermeneutics, intertextuality, narrative, new heavens/new earth, wisdom

Dr. Nik Ansell
ICS 1108AC / 2108AC F20
ICB2010HF L0101*
Distance (Online Synchronous)
Mondays, 8 - 11pm

(MWS, MA, PhD)

Syllabus


*Attention TST students: you have to contact the ICS Registrar to complete your registration. 

The Observant Participant: Applying Research Craft to Professional Practice

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” (Simone Weil)


“Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer. It presupposes faith and love.” (Simone Weil) 


How do I avoid becoming the proverbial practitioner who, instead of earning ten years of experience, repeats one year of experience ten times over? How do I make sense of my own experience as a practitioner and how do I learn from my experience? How do I learn from the experience of other practitioners? How do I give attention to what matters most? 


In this course we will consider these kinds of questions. We will draw on the critical reflective practices of other practitioners, we will equip ourselves with the methodological tools of qualitative researchers, and we will cultivate an attitude of attentiveness informed by the approach to practice taken by phenomenologists—becoming philosophically skilful students of our own lived human experience. Doing this course together, we will become more observant participants in our lifeworlds and strengthen our capacity as reflective practitioners in our professions and in our scholarship. 


While the focus of this course is on applying research craft to professional practice, the course is also an introduction to graduate level qualitative research and to key perspectives from phenomenological philosophy. 



This version of the course will take a hybrid format, with three Zoom sessions, weekly structured interactive online forum discussions in response to reading assignments, and the workshopping of a paper. The Zoom sessions will take place on Thursdays, 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm (September 17, October 15, and November 19). There will be no assignments due during ICS’s reading week, October 26-30. For participants doing the course for credit all outstanding work will be due by no later than January 29, 2021.


ICSDH 132501 / 232501 F20

Dr. Gideon Strauss
Hybrid (Online Asynchronous/Synchronous)

(MA-EL, MWS)

Syllabus

17 August 2020

Finding Joy in Learning

Finding Joy in Learning is the launch course for the MA in Educational Leadership (MA-EL) program of the Institute for Christian Studies. The course will provide you with a vocational vision of Christian educational innovation and leadership. You will be coached through your plan for working through the program as a whole. The course will start you on the path toward your MA-EL Project by helping you identify and articulate your project interest.

This version of the course will take a hybrid format, consisting of three 90-minute Zoom sessions during the week of August 17, participation in the Online Odyssey in Project Based Learning (PBL) offered by The Christian Teacher Academy on August 25-27, structured interactive online forum discussions in response to readings and other assignments over a period of twelve weeks, and individual meetings with MA-EL instructors.


All-online (TBD)

ICSDH 260001 S20
Drs. Gideon Strauss, Edith van der Boom
Hybrid (Online Asynchronous/Synchronous)

(MA-EL)

Syllabus

Lead From Where You Are: Making a Difference in the Face of Tough Problems, Big Questions, and Organizational Politics

Leadership is not about personality, authority, position, influence, or power as such. Leadership is an art, a craft, a practice, to which everyone is called sometime or other, in widely different situations. Leadership can be practiced with varying degrees of authority, from any position, at varying scales of influence, and with varying access to different sources of power.

The kind of leadership that we will learn and practice in this course has to do with diagnosing and addressing the toughest problems experienced by organizations, communities, institutions, and societies. This kind of leadership demands political skill: the skill to discern the overt and covert concerns and interests, agendas, and alliances within the organizations, institutions, and societies we serve, and to give each their due while not failing to pursue the common good.

We will learn a leadership language, try out a set of tools and frameworks, and workshop our fresh insights and skills.


All-online (August 17-21, 2020)

ICSD 132504 S20
Dr. Gideon Strauss
Distance (Online)

(MA-EL, MWS)

Syllabus

16 July 2020

Art, Religion, and Theology (ART)

CANCELLED

ART in Orvieto is an advanced summer studies program in art, religion, and theology located in Orvieto, Italy, a magnificent hill town 90 minutes north of Rome. The program offers an ecumenical exploration of Christian understandings of the arts. It provides a three weeks residency designed for artists, graduate students in relevant fields, and other adult learners interested in engaging the intersection of art, religion, and theology.

For further details, please see the dedicated ART in Orvieto webpage.

Art, Religion, and Theology: Theologies of Art in the Christian Tradition
ICS AiO 120102 S20
ICH3350HS L4101 / ICH6350HS L4101*
Dr. Rebekah Smick

Experiential Learning in Faith and the Arts: Artists' Workshop
ICS AiO1501/2501VAA S20
ICP3851HS / ICP6851HS 0101*
Dr. Rebekah Smick, David Holt

Experiential Learning in Faith and the Arts: Writers' Workshop
ICS AiO 1501WA S20
ICP3861HS / ICP6861HS 0102*
Dr. Rebekah Smick, John Terpstra

Intensive, In-Person
Location: Orvieto, Italy (July 16 - August 6, 2020)

(MWS, MA, PhD)

Syllabus


*TST students have to register with ICS Registrar to complete registration

CANCELLED