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The Henry Institute fulfills its mission through a number of activities:

Visualizing Public Life is a rare opportunity for students to explore how to represent information about the communities around us. Student-participants will research questions and then work with mapping, charting, andother graphical techniques to produce their own visualization, which will be entered into a juried competition and displayed in a special event in the spring of 2013. Interested students will have the opportunity to attend a professional development workshop on data visualization.

In contrast to the hyper-partisan and vitriolic political discourse that surrounds political elections, the Henry Institute co-sponsored an online Alternative Political Conversation from February 1 through October 31, 2012. Starting from an agreed upon set of "Basic Christian Principles for Politics and Public Policy," selected commentators posted periodic position papers on pre-announced topics such as immigration, health care and the economy, withreaders having the opportunity to post comments in a moderated forum. The commentators represented a variety of positions all along the political spectrum, presenting thoughtful, respectful conversation about their differing positions. Co-sponsors with the Henry Institute included the Center for Christian Studies at Gordon College and the Center for Public Justice.

Biennial Symposia on Religion and Politics . . . bringing together scholars across different disciplines to present and discuss scholarly papers related to issues of religion and politics.

Graduate Student Workshops . . . summer workshops for graduate students interested in the intersection of religion and politics. Workshops focus on survey research and the measurement of religious variables, using large national datasets. (Click here for a list of previous participants.)

Periodic local and national conferences . . . on critical topics dealing with the interplay between Christian faith and political thought and action. Most recently, the Henry Institute sponsored "Confrontational Politics versus Finding Principled Common Ground" as part of the Christians Engaging Culture series.

A data center . . . serving as a national resource for scholars and others engaged in the study of Christianity and politics.

Internships and field experience opportunities . . . for Calvin undergraduates in Washington D.C.

Collaborative research projects . . . with other scholars, institutions, or political and public policy agencies. These projects may be funded through grants offered or coordinated by the Institute to promote study of specific topics chosen by the institute.

Research opportunities . . . for graduate and undergraduate students to work with Henry Institute faculty on projects that promote the scholarly study of the interplay between Christianity and politics.

Undergraduate Fellowship Program . . . providing an opportunity for students to engage in activities and research into the interplay between Christianity and politics through year-long Henry Institute research grants made to Calvin College faculty members.

Graduate and undergraduate courses . . . and seminars in such topics as Religion and Public Life, Christianity and Politics, and Religion and Politics in Comparative Perspective. These courses are normally offered in conjunction with the Calvin College Department of Political Science.

The annual Paul B. Henry Lecture . . . featuring a Christian who has or is serving in public life, or someone who addresses public policy. Lectures so far have included former U.S. Senators Mark Hatfield, Paul Simon, and Dan Coates, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, John DiIuilio of the White House Office of Faith Based Initiatives, author and lecturer Allen Hertzke, and Sojourners founder Jim Wallis.

Lectures, presentations and professional activities . . . are provided by the Director of the Henry Institute and by Henry Institute Research Fellows. The presentations and educational interactions range from media interviews, to adult education classes at churches on a wide variety of topics, to speaking at international conferences and events.

  • In 2005, the Director lectured at China's Peking University School of Government and at the People's University, and also taught courses on Christianity and politics at the Areopagus Centre for Christian Studies and Contemporary Culture in Timisoara, Romania.
  • Dr. Smidt was an invited speaker for the Civil Society, Civic Engagement, and Catholicism in the U.S. conference in Mainz, Germany in the spring of 2006.
  • Research Fellow Stephen Monsma participated in a Nairobi, Kenya conference entitled "Making a Difference in Today's Africa" in 2005.
  • A conference on The Effects of the AIDS Pandemic and Poverty on Church Life in Sub-Saharan Africa was co-sponsored by the Henry Institute in 2007, and Institute Director Corwin Smidt participated in sessions at the event in Zambia.
  • In 2008, Smidt presented his and Monsma's findings under a U.S. Department of Labor grant evaluating the work of the Latino Coalition with high-risk community youth at the White House National Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Conference in Washington D.C.
  • Corwin Smidt met with members of the Nigerian legislature in Abuja to discuss democratic processes in government in May of 2008.
  • During the fall semester of 2008, Dr. Smidt led the Calvin College Semester in Hungary.