16 July 2020

Art, Religion, and Theology (ART)


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)


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


1 July 2020

The Soul of Soulless Conditions (Intensive)

Although Marxists and Christians have found plenty of reasons to be mutually suspicious, prominent voices in both historical communities explored creative ways of relating to one another, politically and ideologically, throughout the 20th century and beyond. Through dialogical exchanges, party documents, and theological reflection, important questions were raised, if not always solved. Were the first Christians communists? What do Moscow and Havana have to do with Rome and Nazareth? Does materialism disqualify Christians from Marxist analysis? Can Marxist political parties accommodate Christian believers, and how far can Christians go in participating in Marxist revolutions?

Over the course of thirteen classes, we will read several Marxists on Christianity (e.g. Lenin, Luxemburg, Castro, Horkheimer) and several Christians on Marxism (e.g. McCabe, Soelle, Cone, Zuidervaart) to better understand where these communities found points of agreement and disagreement. Because neither Marxism nor Christianity are entirely unified traditions of thought, the selection of authors will aim to represent at least some of this diversity, although privileging voices that made an effort to bring these two discourses closer together in some way. Reading these traditions together, we will try to uncover how Christianity contributes to the soul of soulless conditions, and also what it might mean to embody that soul in the flesh of political organization.

All-online (July 7 - August 13, 2020)

ICSD 132902 S20
Dean Dettloff
Distance (Online)



*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.

16 June 2020

Faith in Art: Spirituality and Lived Experience (Intensive)

This course explores the various ways in which art and faith can intersect by comparing two
important strands within theological aesthetics, the first focussing on art as a bridge to the
spiritual and transcendence, the other on the way art articulates human lived experience.
Students will explore what different traditions can learn from each other with a view towards
developing a better understanding of the nature of art and the role of faith in religious and
non-religious artistic practices.

All-online (June 16 - July 23, 2020)

Dr. Adrienne Dengerink-Chaplin
ICSD 131201 S20
Distance (Online)

(MWS, MA, PhD)


*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.

2 June 2020

World-Viewing: An Introduction to Worldview Studies (Intensive)

Ubi amor, ibi oculus. 

(Roughly: Where there is love, there is seeing.)

An ancient saying, 
passed along by Josef Pieper and Richard Mouw

My hope is that you will experience World-viewing as a feast, an affirmative and transformative learning experience in which we will: consider and reconsider our deepest commitments and convictions; explore how we humans make sense of our lives, find our way in our world, and make culture; and, strengthen our capacities—within our vocations—for accompanying others in their world-viewing and way-finding and culture-making.

What do I love, desire, care about? What is the world we live in, and what do I believe about it? Who am I? Where do I belong—who are my people, and what are we to one another? What opportunities and constraints do I face in my particular context? What am I to do with my life? What is my vocation, my calling? What is my craft, how do I hone it, and how does the honing of my craft relate to my crafting of my self? How do I address these big questions in relation to the people whom I serve through my vocation?

World-Viewing: An Introduction to Worldview Studies serves as a touchstone course for the ICS Master of Worldview Studies (MWS) program as a whole, providing us as participants with a set of frameworks and tools and a selection of readings for exploring these kinds of questions. The course also introduces participants to the Christian worldview tradition out of which the Institute for Christian Studies emerges.

All-online (June 2 - July 9, 2020)

ICSD 132505/232505 S20
Dr. Gideon Strauss
Distance (Online)


*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.

12 May 2020

Evil, Resistance, and Judgment: Hannah Arendt and Religious Critique (Distance)

This seminar explores Hannah Arendt’s reflections on the themes of evil, resistance, and judgment, especially as these are shaped by her experience reporting for The New Yorker at the 1961 war crimes trial of Adolf Eichmann (first published in book form in 1963 under the title Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil). In this book, Arendt claims to have observed a new face of evil, banality, which she describes as a refusal to ‘think’ that robs our moral imagination of the ability to see things from another’s point of view. At the same time, the book offers an intriguing analysis of human power and the possibility of resisting seemingly inexorable evil forces.

Before launching into Eichmann in Jerusalem, the course will begin with an examination of Arendt’s assessment of the human condition “between past and future,” or her description of the space of human action and possibility between a past that is never past, and a future that is yet to be written. In light of this context, we will then turn to Eichmann in Jerusalem, in order to assess how her experience of witnessing that trial altered her understanding of the human condition. Toward the end of the course, we will turn to Arendt’s last (and uncompleted) reflections on judgment as that ‘faculty’ which might yet help us think and act in unprecedented social and political situations where traditional wisdom has collapsed and universal rules have proved incapable of providing moral guidance.

Throughout the course, one of our guiding concerns will be to ask what members of specifically religious communities might learn from Arendt’s reflections (a question Arendt does not herself explicitly ask): Are faith communities prone to fostering ideological formations that inhibit their members’ capacity to engage in the kind of thinking that Arendt says is a necessary condition of our ability to judge? How do the beliefs and actions of different religious communities contribute to the ability of their members to become effective judges of a world that is shared and constituted by a plurality of persons who are members of different communities? How might Arendt’s insights help religious adherents rediscover the spiritual and intellectual resources of their traditions that could awaken hope and reveal novel possibility for resistance and action?

All-online (May 12 - June 18, 2020)

Register no later than May 11, 2020, by emailing Elizabet Aras, Registrar.

ICSD 220502 S20
ICT6735HS L0101*
Drs. Ron Kuipers, Andrew Tebbutt
Intensive, Distance (Online) 

(MA, PhD)


*TST students have to register with ICS Registrar to complete registration and pay tuition.

13 January 2020

Leadership in Context (Reformational Philosophy Applied)

An exploration of central issues in philosophy, as addressed by Herman Dooyeweerd, Dirk Vollenhoven, and the “Amsterdam School” of neoCalvinian thought. The course tests the relevance of this tradition for recent developments in Western philosophy. Special attention is given to critiques of foundationalism, metaphysics, and modernity within reformational philosophy and in other schools of thought. Together these critiques provide a cosmic background to thinking about the cultural work of schooling, of pedagogy, and of leadership in classroom and schooling.

All-online 13 weeks (January 13 - April 9, 2020)

ICSD 1107AC / 2107AC W20
Dr. Bob Sweetman, and Samir Gassanov
Distance (Online)



Set the Prisoners Free: Christianity and Prison Abolition

“He has sent me to proclaim release to the prisoners
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
        to let the oppressed go free, 
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

--Luke 4:18

Jesus’s Gospel is a message of freedom. Liberation from bondage permeates the biblical narrative as a driving theme, with Jesus quoting Isaiah as he announces the Spirit of the Lord is upon him to proclaim release to the prisoners and to let the oppressed go free.

Yet the United States of America, a country that many Christians call home, has the highest incarceration rate of any country on the planet. By some estimates, although the US has only 5% of the world’s population, it contains over 20% of the world’s prison population. People of color, especially Black Americans, are disproportionately incarcerated, making up nearly 40% of the US prison population despite being 13% of the population as a whole. In Canada, another country with deep Christian origins, Indigenous people make up 46% of incarcerated youth and only 8% of Canada’s population.

Mass incarceration and its ties to systemic racism have prompted a radical movement for not only prison reform, but the abolition of prisons altogether. Such a proposal raises many questions. What would a world without prisons look like? How should communities deal with injustices? What are the causes of crime, and how might justice be done without the prison? In this thirteen week online class, we will explore how Christianity both funds the ideology of mass incarceration and a spirit of prison abolition, asking what it would mean to proclaim release to the prisoners today.

All-online 13 weeks (January 20 - April 19, 2020)

ICSD 132903 W20
Dean Dettloff
Distance (Online)



9 January 2020

Spiritual Exercise as Christian Philosophy from Augustine to Bonaventure


This seminar examines the notion of spiritual exercise as it evolved in Hellenic and Hellenistic philosophy to understand the emergence of ‘Christian philosophy’ as a cultural project within the Augustinian tradition of theology and spirituality, a tradition that begins in Augustine’s own writings and can be said to find its medieval high point in the work of St. Bonaventure.

ICS 220402 W20
ICH5017HS L0101*
Dr. Bob Sweetman
Thursdays, 9:30am – 12:30pm
Location: ICS Learning Studio, Knox College

(MA, PhD)


*TST students have to register with ICS Registrar to complete registration. ICS reserves the right to decline late registrations due to limited space.