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.


8 January 2020

God in Flesh and Blood: Revolutions in Christology

How does the biblical portrayal of Jesus relate to the narrative movement(s) of the Hebrew Bible? To what extent do the OT themes of exile and return, old age and new age, help deepen our understanding of the birth and crucifixion of the Messiah? If we worship Jesus, are we to worship his humanity as well as his divinity? Does Mary’s encounter with Gabriel, who is a named presence in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament only in the Book of Daniel, indicate that her conception of Jesus is to be read apocalyptically? Is it significant that Elizabeth initially greets Mary with words otherwise associated with Jael and Judith? These are some of the exegetical and theological questions we will consider in this engagement with issues at the edge, and at the heart, of contemporary Christology. Conversation partners will include: James Dunn (Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?), Jane Schaberg (The Illegitimacy of Jesus), and N.T. Wright (The Day the Revolution Began).

ICS 240811 W20
ICT3201HS L0101 / ICT6201HS L0101*
Dr. Nik Ansell
Wednesdays, 5:45pm – 8:45pm
Location: ICS Learning Studio, Knox College

(MWS, 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.

Reconsidering Kant’s Aesthetics

Until recently, it was customary to regard Kant as the thinker who gave definitive form to the notion of aesthetic judgment and who succeeded in explaining why aesthetic experience is something essentially distinct from other kinds of experience. The postmodern rejection of the practice of aesthetic theory, however, has done much to undermine Kant’s position vis-à-vis the arts. This course aims to re-examine Kant’s aesthetic theory from the vantage point of the art theoretical literature that preceded it. In an effort to better understand Kant’s contribution to the history of thought about art, it will seek to contextualize such “Kantian” themes as judgment, taste, genius, beauty, sublimity and purposiveness. It will also consider to what degree our understanding of Kant has been shaped by later modernist assumptions about the character of his contribution.

ICS 220107 W20
ICH 3761HS L0101 / ICH6761 HS L0101*
Dr. Rebekah Smick
Wednesdays, 1:45pm - 4:45pm
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.

7 January 2020

Foundations and Implications of Phenomenology

This course will look at the philosophical foundations of, and contemporary issues in, phenomenology. We will explore key features of the phenomenological method—including the reduction, the bracketing of the ‘natural attitude,’ the first-person methodology, intentionality, and givenness. We will also look at how the current conversations on these questions have implications for fields as diverse as psychology, religious studies, sociology, music, and more.

ICSD 223001 W20
Dr. Neal DeRoo
Tuesdays, 7pm - 10pm
Hybrid (Video)
(MA, PhD)


IDS: Naming the Divine Within and Without

With close attention to seminal, pre-modern Christian thinkers such as Pseudo-Dionysius and Thomas Aquinas and in close conversation with contemporary scholars such as Clouser, Cupitt, McFague, Moltmann, and Rorty, along with key resources from the arts, literature, and popular culture, this course will explore some of the ways in which a traditional understanding of transcendence and immanence, rooted in the extremely influential notion of the analogia entis, has been maintained, modified, challenged, and reconceived since the advent of: the “linguistic turn,” the much-heralded “end of metaphysics,” and the alleged peril (and promise!) of a “post-truth” era. Is there a biblically oriented way of departing from (the ghost of) Perfect Being notions in theology and philosophy? Can we develop a view of transcendence and immanence that is not overly tied to spatial metaphors (“transcendence and beyond”)? Is mysticism the antidote to metaphysics? What grounds our privileged, centring, or root metaphors? Might a post-or-non-realist view of truth help us reconnect with our faith, and vice-versa? Are there key non-academic (re)sources that can speak to us as we negotiate these and other questions?

ICS 2400AC W20
Drs. Nik Ansell, Robert (Bob) Sweetman
Tuesdays, 1:45pm - 4:45pm
Location: ICS Learning Studio, Knox College

(MA, PhD)


6 January 2020

Biblical Foundations (Distance)

This course will explore the Bible as the ongoing story of and for God and creation, paying special attention to the way in which God's story is intertwined with that of humanity and the world. In asking whether and in what way the Bible is also our story, we will attempt to identify which hermeneutical methods might help us discern its significance for present day life, including the academic enterprise.

ICSD 1108AC/2108AC W20
Dr. Nik Ansell, and Jeffrey Hocking
Distance (Online)