PHIL W10 Concepts of Nature. An examination of how nature is conceptualized by various thinkers, how their different pictures of the natural world shape responses to environmental issues, and the way that nature functions in Christian reflections on humans and their place in the world. The first week of the course will be held at Walden Lake Lodge with classes held in the classroom at that facility. The rest of the course will be held on Calvin’s campus, but will include a three day backpacking trip to experience winter hiking in Michigan, and experience the challenges of living in the wilderness during the winter months. This trip will either be held on the Manistee River Trail or at Wilderness State Park in one of the hike-in cabins; in the latter
case students will either ski or snowshoe to the cabin with their supplies in backpacks. Basic equipment for the trip (tents, sleeping bags, stoves) will be provided. Students will be responsible for any specialized clothing (boots, snow pants) needed for the trip. Through this course students will understand the range of ways theorists have conceptualized the natural world; gain experiential understanding of the complexities of any concept of wilderness; develop respect for and understanding of survival in outdoor situations; and articulate a Christian response to creation care issues that incorporates both theoretical and experiential understanding of human relationships to the natural world. Evaluation will be based on in-class discussion and regular written journal entries as well as a final reflection paper or project that brings together their experiences during the course. Fee: $275. R. Groenhout. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
PHIL W11 Moral Issues in Film. This course focuses on moral concepts such as moral duty, moral responsibility, supererogation, collective responsibility, and moral expectation. About eight motion pictures will be shown illustrating these moral concepts. These concepts will also be examined in the context of the Christian life. Learning objectives include knowledge of these moral concepts and the ability to analyze and identify their presence in the plots of motion pictures and, by extension, how they function in the lives of human moral agents. Evaluation is based on a research paper and several short written assignments. One previous course in Philosophy is recommended but not required. G. Mellema. 8:30 a.m. to noon.
PHIL W40 Buffy: Violence, Sex and Gender. Since it premiered in 1997, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has served as a cultural touchstone. Its groundbreaking combination of horror and humor presented a sustained (seven-season) exploration of the coming of age of its central characters: Buffy, Willow, and Xander. The show has had a lasting impact on popular culture on a number of fronts, but one of the respects in which Buffy has been most formative is the portrayal of a 16 year-old girl as “The Chosen One” who is responsible for protecting the world from dangers unimaginable to most or its inhabitants. The course will examine Buffy’s ability to kick butt in the latest fashions, redefine conceptual space for female characters on television and pave the way for other works (like Alias and The Hunger Games) that feature women who use their physicality as well as their wit without modeling themselves after men. This class will focus on the constant interplay between violence, sex, and gender that keeps Buffy both interesting and relevant 15 years after it first aired. In particular, it will address the way in which these factors influence the characters’ development—and why the show still resonates so strongly with college students who are neither slayers nor vampires. There are no prerequisites for this course other than a sense of humor and a general knowledge of pop culture. Students should be familiar with the general plot arcs of all seven series (and the series as a whole) before the course begins. It's not necessary to have viewed all the episodes prior to the class, but the class will assume basic knowledge of characters and how they develop over the course of the show. Evaluation will be based on oral presentations, participation in intense discussions, reading journals, and a final project. This course may fulfill an elective in the Gender Studies minor. C. Van Dyke. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
PHIL W60 Reason, Evidence, and Christian Faith. Scripture says to “be prepared to give reason for the hope that is within you” (I Peter 3:15). Christian growth as well as Christian witness entails reflection on hard questions about why Christian belief makes sense. In recent philosophy of religion and epistemology these questions are also at the heart of the debate between evidentialists like Richard Swinburne and “Reformed epistemologists” like Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff. This course investigates these questions from a philosophical perspective. We will first introduce a probabilistic framework for evaluating what counts as good evidence. We will then consider the two stages of classic evidentialist apologetics. The first stage argues that various facts in the natural world and in human nature give objectively good reasons to believe that God exists; and the second stage argues that the New Testament writings, evaluated as historical testimony within a theistic context, provide good evidence for believing in the life, death, resurrection, and divine mission of Jesus. Last, we will consider the approach of Reformed epistemologists, stressing worldview-sensitivity, the importance of properly basic beliefs, and the role of the Holy Spirit in the proper grounding of Christian belief. By the end of the interim, the student will be able to: explain some main lines of reasoning in the “evidentialist” approach to Christian apologetics; explain the “Reformed epistemology” approach, viewing Christian belief is “properly basic”; explain and give an intelligent evaluation of the epistemological underpinnings of each approach, and of some main strengths and weaknesses of each. This course involves intensive daily reading and writing. Students are required to do close reading of daily assignments, to write regular critical summaries of these readings, and to work in teams presenting their summaries for class discussion. Reading may also be checked by means of quizzes and, if needed, an exam. Prerequisite: Philosophy 153 and one other philosophy course. S. Wykstra. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
IDIS W14 Peace, Pubs & Pluralism . Course dates: January 3 -21. Fee: $3156. K. Corcoran. Off campus.
IDIS W15 L'Abri Switzerland. Course dates: January 3-23. Fee: $2500. L. Hardy. Off campus.