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Registration: Interim

Interim 2015

Developing a Christian Mind (DCM)

Developing a Christian Mind (DCM) is a first-year core course that introduces students to the central intellectual project of Calvin College, the development of a Christian worldview, and a faith-based engagement with culture. All DCM sections include common readings and plenary lectures, which sketch out the broad contours. Each section then works out the implications of a Christian frame of reference in relation to an issue of contemporary relevance. Student evaluation is based on classroom participation, quizzes on the readings and lectures, writing assignments or presentations, and a final exam.

IDIS 150 01 DCM: Artist Collaborative. This interim course is scheduled for the Arts Collaborative Cohort to fulfill their DCM requirement and as a pre-requisite to the interim abroad to Indonesia (January 2016). Students will engage in discovering what it means to be an artist and a leader in today’s contemporary global society within the context of Developing A Christian Mind. Examples of topics include: “What does it mean to be a person of faith and a leader in the arts?” “How can artists do reconciliation work?” “Where are we called to see, respond, reflect and change?” “How can the arts explore healing and sanctuary building?” “How can Christians and the arts respond to local and global Issues such as sustainability?” The course will include panel discussions with local arts leaders as well as excursions to local entrepreneurial arts ventures. It will include readings and film. On the global level, students will also be preparing for interim 2016 to Indonesia focusing on the topics above. For students unable to travel to Indonesia an alternate out of state interim will be offered concentrating on the same topics. D. Buursma, J. VanReeuwyk. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

IDIS 150 02 DCM: Population Growth and Food Security. Genesis commands us to ‘be fruitful and multiply’. Have we fulfilled this mandate? Is the earth already too full, the environment too degraded? Is there a positive way forward or was Sir Thomas Malthus correct that we should expect massive starvation in our lifetimes? Do we have the capacity to produce enough food for the growing global human population? Virtually all land suitable for food production is already in use. A warming global climate is reducing production by 10% for every one degree increase in temperature. Global population is increasing and urbanizing. The mantra among most global food security professionals is to increase food production system intensification. Yet, this approach is a key driver of environmental degradation and will undermine future production capacity. Problems like soil erosion, greenhouse gas emissions, eutrophication of fresh water and coastal aquatic systems, pesticide use and species extinctions challenge future production capacity. At the same time, global human population continues to increase—from 4 B in the 1960s, to 7.2 B today, and likely 9.5 B by 2050. After characterizing these challenges, students will evaluate a range of technological, social, nutrition and health, economic and political factors. Food security and production issues will be evaluated from the context of industrialized and developing perspectives by visiting a variety of farms in southwest Michigan and by evaluating approaches in developing countries, e.g., Cambodia. Through the analysis of these factors, students will gain clearer understanding of the options humanity has to reconcile agriculture. Students will understand that encouraging options do exist to provide ample quality food supplies for 10 B people, to improve the health of agricultural landscapes, to protect marginal natural areas and biodiversity, while simultaneously improving human health. D. Dornbos. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS 150 03 DCM: Societal Views on Drugs. The pharmaceutical industry and clandestine drug laboratories make available to us drugs that can have myriad effects. Drugs can lengthen lives, relieve pain, replace hormones, relieve anxiety, sharpen mental awareness, alter sensations, change our behavior, enhance performance, help us lose weight, or just make us feel good. In this course, students study the history of the legalization of drugs in the U.S. They determine how drugs currently are legally made available in the U.S. and what drug properties determine whether or not a drug is legal to purchase and use. Then, students consider when the use of drugs shifts from being a blessing from God to potentially harming our bodies and our minds. What use of drugs is appropriate? Is it appropriate for us as Christians to take insulin, aspirin, Ritalin®, coffee, tobacco, or marijuana? Readings taken from popular literature, government documents, and the Bible are used as a backdrop to assessing drug availability and use. Students reflect on, discuss, and write about drug use in various medical and social situations. R. Nyhof. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.


IDIS 150 04 DCM: Local Food. For many different reasons, more and more people are opting to become locavores – those who eat primarily local foods. Some do so because they want foods that are fresher and more healthful. Others choose local foods because they are concerned about the environmental costs of the alternative: foods grown in the global industrial food system. Local gardens, farms, and processors also increase local food security – another reason why this movement is increasingly popular. In this course students explore the locavore movement, grapple with some of its challenges, and learn first-hand from local leaders how locavores are striving to make Michigan more food self-sufficient. They explore the health, lifestyle, and environmental implications of the typical American diet and contrast this with healthier local options. They also prepare, preserve, and eat wholesome foods – including some grown in the new Calvin Campus Garden. Field trips, participation in the Michigan Family Farms Conference, readings, class discussions, and hands-on activities highlight options for sustaining healthy bodies and resilient food networks. Grades are based on the quality of reflective writing and a final exam. Fee: $100. D. Koetje. 8:30 a.m. to noon.


IDIS 150 05 DCM: Leadership, Character & Virtue. “…becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It's precisely that simple, and it's also difficult. So let's get started." (Warren Bennis). There is a lot of talk about “character” but what does it actually mean and how can we relate it to the world in which we live, learn, and work? The Christian life we lead is in the present - but God also redeems our past and has plans for our future. If we are to understand this Christian life, with its responsibilities and particular callings, we must start by understanding ourselves - in Christ. What does it mean to “put on Christ”? Our character is a complex interaction between God's 'wiring' of our bodies and background, the contributions others make to our life, and our unique participation in co-writing our story with God. Leadership first rests on character and the importance of ethics and authenticity. In business, and in life, you can't lead others if you can't lead yourself. Students explore the scriptural basis and foundation for Christian "character" and "virtue." "Who" we are is critical in dictating our moment-by-moment actions and the impact we have on others. Following the study of current virtue taxonomies, students explore their Core Identity – starting with purpose and calling – and use new assessment tools and processes to assess, e.g., their personality, values, and character strengths. The course culminates with the each student developing a Core Identity statement identifying their Virtues, Values, Passions, Strengths, Competencies (knowledge, skills, abilities, and personality), and Story. B. Cawley, C. Jen. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS 150 06 DCM: The Creative Mind of the Maker. In her book, The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy L. Sayers contends that the creative process in the arts works in ways that correspond to the dynamic relationship between the three persons of the Trinity, and that the activity of one necessarily illuminates the activity of the others. Through reading Sayers' book and other assigned readings, students in this course will engage with the act of creation on both theoretical and practical levels. Beginning with the work of the Triune God in the first creation act, mirrored by human response in creative acts of our own, students will engage with the three-fold nature of creation: the creative idea, the creative activity, and the creative interaction. Upon completion of this course, students will articulate a full working knowledge of the concepts of creation and creativity. Students will also develop their own creative skills through three guided creativity-building exercises. D. Leugs. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m

IDIS 150 07 DCM: Young Adults and the Church. Young Adults (a.k.a. “Gen Y,” “Millennials,” or “Mosaics”) represent the largest population surge in history. Their presence, as well as their absence, is forcing the Church to think strategically about its biblical mandate to pass on its faith to future generations. This class will review the historical and sociological factors that have shaped this generation, including the differences and similarities present across cultural and socio-economical lines. The spiritual profile of this generation will be surveyed through studies of the “none-ers,” those who are attempting to recreate the church, and those who see themselves living in exile from the church. Through discussions with pastors, church visits and case studies, the impact of this generation’s demands for diversity, flexibility, and innovation upon congregational life and worship will be explored. Students will develop an understanding of unique characteristics of faith development for this generation, as well as best ministry practices addressing these issues. L. Barger Elliott. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

IDIS 150 08 DCM: Learning from the Stranger. This course is for students who would like to deepen their ability to “learn from the stranger” when participating in cross-cultural missions or off-campus programs. It is also for those who would like to explore how to learn better from other students, staff or faculty at Calvin who seem to come from a “strange” cultural or social perspective. In fact, this course is for students who are willing to explore how they themselves can become better “strangers,” so that others can learn well from them. In this course, students deepen their cultural intelligence (CQ), that is, begin to develop the knowledge, skills, and virtues needed to understanding cultures, including their own. Lack of cultural intelligence can lead to several problems, from oppression by dominant cultures to simple misunderstandings between roommates. At a national level, this can lead to human suffering; at an individual level, to lost opportunities for growing through encounters with those different from us. Throughout the course, Calvin professor David Smith’s book, Learning from the Stranger, will humorously model how to deepen the virtues related to crossing cultures. Patty Lane’s book, A Beginner’s Guide to Crossing Cultures, helps students sharpen their cross-cultural skills and knowledge. Together, these provide a widened lens through which students encounter the core DCM text: Engaging God’s World. Student learning objectives include a heightened awareness of how cultural contexts and faith traditions impact human relationships; a deeper understanding of the Reformed worldview and how it relates to other faith traditions; and increased listening and conflict resolution skills. B. Haney. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

IDIS 150 09H Honors DCM: Dramatic Families. This DCM section will explore “Dramatic Families: Dreams, Dysfunctions, and Occasional Solutions in Shakespeare and Modern Drama." We will study a number of plays featuring families suffering from maladies such as death, abandonment, and betrayal; these same families have members who each have their own dreams, desires, and aspirations. We will ask such questions as: How do these families differ from what might be considered God’s design for families? What has brought about these problematic situations? How do characters’ dreams seek to rise above the dysfunction? How are they the cause of it? How is redemptive hope present (or absent) in the different families? How is all of this relevant to our own lives? How can the study of such material glorify God, draw us closer to Him and others as we become increasingly conformed to His image, and help advance His Kingdom? We will study The Tempest by William Shakespeare, A Doll House by Henrik Ibsen, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, and A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. D. Urban. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS 150 10 DCM: Power & the Female Body. When Beyoncé’s performance at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2014 came to a crescendo, her message was hard to miss. Behind her the word “FEMINIST” stood emblazed in stark white letters on a black background, with Queen Bey herself on the stage, the shape of her body dramatically silhouetted. Lady Gaga’s video for “Bad Romance” won a record-breaking seven Video Music Awards in 2010, a video that Gaga explains is about “how the entertainment industry can, in a metaphorical way, simulate human trafficking—products being sold, the woman perceived as a commodity.” But are Lady Gaga and Beyoncé right when they claim that they are modern day feminists—strong women unafraid to express their sexuality? Are their performances expressions of their strength and power as women or simply self-objectification? In what ways are Lady Gaga and Beyoncé doing something different from conventional sexualized performances that depict women as objects of pleasure for men, and how would we even know if they were? In this class we will explore the ways in which systems of power are attached to female bodies. We will do this through the analysis of fiction, non-fiction texts, music videos, and blog posts. Note:  In this class we will be looking frankly at materials that some students might find challenging. J.H. Williams. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS 150 11 DCM: Understanding the Japanese Mindset. A visitor to any Japanese city might find life in modern Japan not much different from life in the US. However, Christians might get confused when they find out that many Japanese regularly participate in traditional rituals based on Shintoism, celebrate a wedding ceremony at a Christian church, then hold a funeral at a Buddhism temple. At the same time, those Japanese may profess that they have no religion. What does this mean? This course aims to introduce students to the fundamental values and principles that are ingrained in the Japanese mindset and identity and to explore how religious beliefs and rituals are integrated in life in modern Japan. We will do this through the study of non-fiction texts, documentary films, and feature films. We will reflect and discuss differences in notions of faith or religion and seek productive dialogue that can stimulate mutual, cross-cultural understandings between Christians and non-Christians in Japan. Examples of class discussion topics include: How does the Japanese mindset manifest the longing for God? How is the Japanese belief of creation different from the Christian belief of creation? What are Japanese thoughts about evil in human nature? How is it possible nonetheless for us to do right? K. Schau. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS 150 12 DCM: Christianity and Democracy in Africa. This course examines the fascinating interplay between Christianity and democracy on the continent of Africa. Numerous studies point to the phenomenal growth of Christianity in Africa over the past century. At the same time, numerous African countries have experienced democratic transitions since the early 1990s. But what is the relationship between Christianity and democracy? This course will explore the resurgence of Christianity in Africa, the different expressions of Christianity, and the unique interaction between religion and politics on the continent. Engaging with a variety of articles, books and films, students will discuss questions of “Why, with so much religious vibrancy in Africa, the church is relatively quiet regarding politics?" and "What is an appropriate African Christian response to governance issues?" T. Kuperus. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS 150 13 DCM: Coaching Young Athletes. This course is designed to provide students with knowledge and practical experiences related to coaching young athletes. The focus is on knowledge, skills, strategies, and issues in youth sport. This course aims to develop insight and knowledge for a youth sport leader, primarily in the areas of philosophy, psychology, and pedagogy, and secondarily in physiology and risk management. Cultural norms involved in coaching the young athlete will be critiqued using a Reformed worldview in an attempt to expose the complicated demands of coaching and the necessary tools one should possess in order to be successful in coaching. J. Bergsma. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS 150 14 DCM: Mathematics and Beauty. Many mathematicians find aesthetic pleasure in their work and in mathematics more generally. Bertrand Russell said, "Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty." G.H. Hardy said, "Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in this world for ugly mathematics." Some have connected their appreciation for mathematics with their understanding of God. Galileo is reported to have said, ""Mathematics is the language with which God wrote the universe." Even Paul Erdős, though an agnostic, spoke of an imaginary book in which God has written down all the most beautiful mathematical proofs. This course will survey beautiful topics from number theory, geometry, and analysis alongside the religious and mathematical perspectives of people working in these fields. No previous mathematical training is required for this course, but a willingness to learn the necessary mathematics is assumed. Besides learning some new mathematics, students will be expected to reflect on their own understanding of beauty and how it connects with our lives of faith. M. Bolt. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS 150 15 DCM: The Music of Joy. “It is a certain sound of joy without words, the expression of a mind poured forth in joy.” For St. Augustine, music—especially wordless singing—is a means through which joy becomes embodied in meaningful sound. This linkage of music and joy is deeply embedded in human culture from antiquity to the present day. And as for St. Augustine, for many such music is the expression of joy rooted in contemplation of God. But music can also trigger a response that might be described as an actual experience of joy itself. In this way it may produce what C. S. Lewis described as a “stab of joy:” an experience that may arise, unlooked for, at any time and in any circumstance. Such experiences can produce an almost unbearable longing that finds its true object in Jesus Christ alone. Building on key passages in the Old and New Testaments, the task of this course is to assemble a framework for understanding joy and its relationship to the experience of music. We will consider how joy emerges even in the midst of sorrow, and how the experience of joy can lead to compulsive behaviors, even idolatry. Musical examples include chants by Hildegard of Bingen and the polyphonic organum of the medieval cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris; music by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and other classical composers; the progressive rock of Yes, the jazz of John Coltrane, and film scores by Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings) and Vangelis Papathanassiou (Blade Runner, Chariots of Fire). T. Steele. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS 150 16 DCM: Music, Manipulation, and the Mind of God. Why is music such a powerful force in people’s lives? This course explores how music affects our emotions, identity, relationships, confidence, empathy, energy levels, purchasing decisions, attitudes toward race and gender, moral values, and faith—for good and for ill. All of these will be viewed in the context of God’s plan for human flourishing, as laid out in the common material for “Developing a Christian Mind.” D. Fuentes. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

IDIS 150 17 DCM: Music as Therapy in Everyday Life. Think of the myriad ways one engages with music through the course of a day. What needs in our lives does music fulfill? What needs in the world can be addressed by music? This course will explore the ways in which music can impact our lives, transforming us and reflecting God’s redemption of the world. Through readings from contemporary musicology and the social sciences, films, and a variety of musical styles, students will explore the questions: (1) What is music? What are the possible roles of music within God’s creation? (2) How does music make us human? (3) How might different musical forms and practices contribute to the restoration of a fallen world? and (4) How might music be part of a Christian’s vocation, whether or not one is a professional musician? The field of music therapy will be looked at as a case study of these themes and concepts. No formal music training is required for this class, though students will have the opportunity to participate in group music-making experiences. Students will demonstrate the ability to examine critically the role of music in everyday life. Students will also gain an introduction to the field of music therapy, study its use with different client groups, and examine how this musical vocation may be part of God’s redemption of the world. E. Epp. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS 150 18 DCM: The New Urbanism. This course examines the current cultural debate over the way we build cities. After the Second World War, the US embarked on a historically unprecedented pattern of development: low-density, auto-oriented suburbs. As the limits of that pattern of development became apparent in the 1990s, the “New Urbanist” movement was spawned—a movement of architects, planners, environmentalists and citizen activists that has tried to recover more traditional ways of putting cities together, cities that are compact, walkable, transit-oriented and filled with mixed-use neighborhoods. Students will review the history of city-building in the West, in teams of four or five design a town for 30,000, and read articles and view DVDs that explore different aspects of the issue. Several guest speakers from the development and planning community of Grand Rapids will address the class. The overall goal of the class is to gain a deeper understanding of our built environment. L. Hardy. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

IDIS 150 19 DCM: Psychological Perspectives on Humor. Humor is an integral part of the human experience, yet we rarely talk about it in academic settings. This course explores the many facets of humor, including a growing body of psychological research that explores why humor exists and how it impacts our daily lives. The course follows three themes: (1) Why were we created to have humor? 2) How and why has humor been distorted and sometimes causes harm? (3) How can we be discerning with humor and use humor in the way it was intended? Specific topics include: psychological theories of humor (including recent evolutionary accounts), biblical portraits of humor, the way our brains process humor (including brain conditions where humor comprehension is diminished), how humor develops in children, adolescents and emerging adults, social and psychological effects of humor (i.e., dark humor, humor that stereotypes, etc.), and the relationship between humor and health. Considerable class time is devoted to critiquing and discussing examples of humor (e.g., comedy routines, movies, literature, sarcasm, jokes, etc.). L. DeHaan, B. Riek, D. Tellinghuisen. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS 150 20 DCM: Interpersonal Relationships. Students investigate the psychology of interpersonal relationships – particularly one-to-one relationships – by examining their initiation, development, and patterns of interaction. Discussion includes topics such as roles, motives, aspirations, expectations, communication, self-disclosure, and resolution of problems. Classes consist of lectures, small-group discussions, analysis of case studies, films, and videos. The psychological aspects will build on the religious foundations of why we believe and what we believe as Reformed Christians. The initiation, breaking, and restoration of relationships is an example of the creation/fall/redemption theme that will be developed in this course. A. Shoemaker. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

IDIS 150 21 DCM: The Cross of Christ. All Christians believe that the cross of Jesus Christ plays a crucial role in the achievement of salvation. But precisely how the cross of Christ achieves salvation is a surprisingly difficult question to answer. How does the cross of Christ achieve the reconciliation of God and the universe? How does the cross of Christ "atone" for the sins of humanity? "Atonement theory" is the area of theological investigation that seeks answers to these central questions of the Christian faith. This course will examine the strengths and weaknesses of various theories of the atonement and will provide biblical and theological guidelines that seek clarification of the role of the cross of Christ in salvation. This course will also draw out the implications of atonement theories for the familiar "creation-fall-redemption" paradigm so frequently employed at Calvin College and in DCM. A. Griffioen. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS 150 22 DCM: Theology in Movies and Music. This course examines the expression of theological themes in select musical works and films. Compositions studied include works by Haydn (The Creation), Bach (St. John Passion), and Mozart (Requiem). Films analyzed include Babette’s Feast, The Mission, The Seventh Seal, and Amadeus. Where possible, the relevant libretto or screenplay is read prior to listening to or viewing the work in question. R. Plantinga. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

IDIS 150 23 DCM: Let's Talk about Health. What is the role of health and health care in overall well-being? In what ways can we promote quality of life among those living with a chronic illness? This class explores concepts of person in environment, showing the interactions between physiological health and psycho-social-spiritual well-being. Students explore these interactions as they learn about the interactions between chronic illness and quality of life. The course focuses specifically on health disparities and models/interventions that seek to reduce these disparities among those with chronic illnesses (i.e. cancer, heart disease, diabetes). Readings and class discussions explore how systematic oppression and structural barriers contribute to poorer health outcomes, particularly in the area of chronic disease, among vulnerable populations. By the end of the course students will be able to describe the interactions between chronic disease and quality of life, recognize how discrimination and chronic stress contribute to health disparities among people with chronic illnesses, discuss Christian roles and responsibilities in health care access and delivery, and identify psychosocial interventions that address these health disparities. K. Admiraal. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS 150 24 DCM: Catholic Reformers & the Hispanic Spiritual Tradition. As Christians, we are called to sharpen our understanding of our own practices and points of view through hospitable analysis of ideas, cultures and peoples other than our own. In this course we begin by studying the founders and legacy of one of the principal “rivals” to the Protestant Reformation from which Calvin College takes its bearings: the Catholic Reformation of the 16th century. We engage with such spiritual giants as Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Teresa of Avila as they explore the interconnections between spiritual devotion, faith and doctrine. We then investigate through text and film how heirs of the Catholic Reformation throughout the centuries have also responded to issues that are important to Calvin College today. For example, we see how the Spanish Enlightenment priest Benito Jerónimo Feijoo speaks to issues raised in the “creation” chapter of Engaging God’s World, and use the Hollywood hit film Romero and Guatemala-centered documentary Reparando to explore Christianity's counter-cultural mission: its calling to pursue political and social justice as this resonates both on the current Latin American scene and with the idea of Kingdom consummation in Plantinga. We discuss where, why, and how Catholic reformers and their heirs might converge with or separate from Calvinists on some important matters of theology, faith and spiritual practice, but with an eye towards open dialogue and in the spirit of learning from Catholic Christian brothers and sisters. Two main factors vitalize and inform this exchange, as we recognize that we are considering the religious background and potential spiritual perspectives of our Hispanic neighbors in North America and as we accept a unique opportunity to share our own perspectives from within a potentially new context. A. Tigchelaar. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS 150 25 DCM: Jewish Thought and Culture. Christianity arose from a Jewish context, but many Christians are unfamiliar with Jewish culture. The Jewish people have developed traditions that are frequently different from those found in Christianity. Yet many Christians find that studying Jewish culture can yield unexpected insights into our own faith. This course aims to improve students’ understanding and appreciation of Jewish thought and culture (from ancient times until the present). Through this process, this course aims to encourage a greater understanding of the Reformed tradition of Christianity. We will study the lives and writings of several important Jewish thinkers. We will also explore creative and artistic works, looking for insight into Jewish culture and Jewish experiences. D. Billings. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m

IDIS 150 26 DCM: Finding you Voice & Letting your Life Speak. One of the annoying questions of college years—especially when tuition bills are accumulating and external pressures are mounting—is ‘what are you going to do with your life?’ Not a bad question per se, but often annoying, because so often the answer is a resounding I DON’T KNOW! But what if that question shifted to these: what makes you, you? What experiences, passions, gifts, dreams, personality traits, etc. shape you? What wounds, insecurities, memories, and fears threaten to silence you? How do you see God’s redeeming work extend to even the areas of pain and suffering? Through reading, journaling, excursions into the biology laboratory, art, music, personality assessments, strength-finders tests, guest speakers, movies, and class discussions we will explore the various ways in which God speaks into and shapes our lives in the context of the larger drama of Creation, Fall, Redemption, & Vocation. The class will culminate in a final project that asks students to look for key themes and threads in their life and represent them in a medium of their choosing (memoir, music, painting, poetry, etc.). J. Bonnema. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS 150 27 DCM: The Local Church in the 21st Century.  Few institutions have undergone more change in the past twenty-five years than the local Christian church. Changes in worship style, music, the visual arts, and the role of lay leadership have driven some of these changes. Still deeper, the very nature and mission of the church are also being reexamined.  Many are asking, “What exactly is God’s purpose for the church?  What is the role of the local church in the Kingdom of God?”  Additionally the church in North America is being challenged by a society that is rapidly becoming more pluralistic, more secular, and more materialistic. Local churches must be ready to respond and speak clearly to these and other issues. This course will challenge students to think carefully about the nature and mission of the local church within a broad Kingdom context, and about their own personal roles within in it. Please note:  Students will be expected to visit local churches each Sunday of interim. R.S. Greenway. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

IDIS 150 28 DCM: Exploring the Theatre of the Absurd. In this course we will engage with key issues of faith and culture by studying and producing works from the Theatre of the Absurd. The plays of Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Jean Tardieu, Tom Stoppard, Harold Pinter and others force us to face issues such as human suffering, death and dying, longing for fulfilling relationships, abuse and power, racism and sexism, the basis of our own sense of truth, and ultimately the meaning of human existence. All these bear upon our sense of who we are and what might be our vocation as Christians. We will persistently reflect on these questions as we read, discuss, and produce plays together. S. Sandberg. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS 150 29 DCM: Books from the Kingdom's Edge. Many of us were raised to color within the lines—especially, when it comes to religion, inside the lines of “correct” orthodoxy. Yet it’s important for college students, who are learning to make faith their own, to read books that ask hard questions and present different perspectives—particularly when they come from inside the circle of those who consider themselves Christ followers. In this course we will do just that. Our reading will come from books that have all been written in the last ten years and that seek to reimagine what the truths of Christianity finally come to, what the Kingdom of God is really about in our current and likely future circumstances. Our list includes Velvet Elvis, by Rob Bell; Traveling Mercies, by Anne Lamott; Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, by David Pratt; Irresistible Revolution, by Shane Claiborne; UnChristian, by Gabe Lyons; Everything Belongs, by Richard Rohr; and The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier, by Tony Jones. Reading these against the backdrop of our own training and the assigned text for DCM, Engaging God's World, by Neal Plantinga, we will engage in a dialogue that pushes us to find an authentic, more dynamic faith. A. De Jong. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

IDIS 150 30 DCM: DisAbility - Beyond Suffering. Students in this course will investigate a faith-filled view of disability. They will explore stereotypes of disability, definitions of disability, and historical responses to disability. In addition, course participants will develop a theology of disability and will describe a response to disability for both schools and worship communities. This course is open to all students who wish to explore society’s and their own perspectives and responses to individuals who live with identified disabilities.
Following completion of this course, students will demonstrate understanding of what it means to be identified with a disability, society’s typical view and response to disability, schools’ and churches’ response to individuals with disabilities, ethical considerations of one’s response to individuals who live with disabilities. Readings, media presentations, interacting with those who live with disabilities and class discussions will form the primary course format.P. Stegink. 8:30 a.m. to noon

IDIS 150 31 DCM: The Good Life: Home Economics in the Kingdom of God. What does the Kingdom of God look like when it’s lived out in the stuff of everyday life—the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the homes and neighborhoods we live in?  This course will explore the theological, philosophical and practical sides of these basic questions within a Reformed context, as well as the answers being offered by a competing vision of life that is dominant in the twenty-first century: global consumerism. This course uses Colossians Remixed (Brian Walsh & Sylvia Keesmaat), Engaging God’s World (Cornelius Plantinga Jr.) and additional resources to explore the role of fully awake Christians seeking to live faithfully in today’s world.  Interwoven with practical examples drawn from the wide realm of home economics, the course material touches on theological and philosophical concepts such as truth, storytelling, imagination, hope, modernism and postmodernism.  Through reading, film viewing, discussion, guest speakers and special projects, students explore the problem of evil, but they are also encouraged to find hope in the Kingdom of God, rooted in individual practices and communal rituals. Course evaluation consists of reading responses, group projects, online conversation with other students in the class, as well as a final project that allows students to apply the theological framework presented in the course to a particular area of home economics. Students will emerge from the course with the ability to apply a comprehensive Reformed worldview to our ordinary daily practices, an awareness of the systems and powers that influence human culture, and a sense of hope rooted in the promises of God’s Kingdom. R.Vander Giessen-Reitsma. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

IDIS 150 32 DCM: Perspectives in Education Reform. The course presents controversies in education reform by reviewing the major reforms in the U.S. public education since the publication of "A Nation at Risk" in 1983. These reforms include standardized testing, charter schools and other forms of “school choice,” and No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Students in this course also assess the fate of NCLB and consider future policies in reforming public education in the United States. This course also examines the relationship between education and the larger socioeconomic environment in the U.S. Specific dimensions of the current education policy debate will be explored, including standardized testing as a measurement of learning outcomes, equity in school funding, and education policies from other countries. The last week of this course consists of site visits in Grand Rapids, MI, Chicago, IL and Lansing, MI, in which the class will listen to the perspectives of education practitioners, reformers, administrators and policy decision-makers. Fee: $50. M. Pelz. 8:30 a.m. to noon.

IDIS 150 33 DCM: Inequality and U.S. Democracy. Political equality is a core value of American democracy, enshrined in the concepts of “one person-one vote” and equal representation. While this value has a long history in American government, concerns about the impact of economic inequality on equal representation have existed from the start. As economic inequality has grown in the United States in recent years, observers have questioned whether the increased resources of the rich will further tilt policy towards the preferences of the affluent as opposed to the poor. This course addresses the origins of this unequal representation along with its implications for policy. It also asks whether the rising inequality of recent years is merely an unfortunate societal development, or a fundamental threat to the successful functioning of our democratic system. Students will explore the topic in a variety of ways, including a major simulation and written reflection on inequality and citizenship from a Christian point of view. K. Pyle. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

IDIS 150 34 DCM: Urban Education. There is a great deal of concern in society today about failing schools, low student achievement, and educational inequality. In particular, schools located in urban communities are often subject to criticism and scrutiny because of their high drop-out rate and low test scores. Efforts to improve urban schools have highlighted both the challenges faced by urban students and teachers and the role that schools can play in increasing the educational opportunities available to their students. This course is designed to provide students with a greater understanding of the opportunities and challenges associated with teaching in an urban environment and to provide students with a foundation of knowledge, skills, and dispositions that will prepare them to be effective teachers in an urban setting. The course will involve readings, activities, videos, group projects, and class discussions. Students will also visit several urban schools and spend several days working in an urban classroom. Students will engage in learning activities designed to promote understanding and exploration of equity, social justice, urban schools and communities, school structure and organization, curriculum, teaching, and learning. J. Walcott. 8:30 a.m. to noon.  

IDIS 150 35 DCM:Faith, Evidence, and the Holy Spirit. This course explores prominent perspectives in “religious epistemology,” seeking to understand what makes it right and proper to believe—and even claim to know—the things that mature Christians do typically believe, claim to know, and know (and, in their witness, enjoin others to believe and come to know). We will look at arguments—from William Lane Craig, Richard Swinburne, and others—that there is more than ample “objective evidence” to support the key proclamations of Christianity. We will also look at arguments of Reformed philosophers (Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, William Alston, and others) that Christian belief and knowing rests on distinctive sources like an innate “sensus divinitatus” and the internal work of the Holy Spirit attesting to divine revelation. Some attention will also be given to post-modernist approaches to these topics. Students will evaluate how these current accounts of “Christian knowing”—and the underlying general theories of evidence, rationality, and knowledge that they reflect—fit with their ongoing personal journeys and with the historical Christian communities that have been formative for their journeys. S. Wykstra. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

IDIS 150 36 DCM:Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. This course explores the historical, moral, and theological dimensions of the Nazi Holocaust. Students study the history of anti-Semitism that culminated in Hitler’s persecution of the Jews, the historical account of the Holocaust itself, and the moral and theological issues raised by it. Resources include two books by Elie Wiesel and various films about the Holocaust and its significance.  K. Pomykala. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.