Background

For over 25 years the January Series of Calvin College has been one of the leading lecture/cultural arts series in the country. The series has been a three-time recipient of the Silver Bowl Award as the “Best Campus Lecture Series in the U.S.A.” by the International Platform Society. The diversity of presenters and topics has changed as the world of ideas has changed.

Calvin College is a Christian academic community dedicated to rigorous intellectual inquiry. Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Calvin is one of the largest Christian colleges in the world with an enrollment of 4,000 students. The dynamic liberal arts college has been named a “Best College” by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, The Fisk Guide, The Princeton Review and Washington Monthly. A Calvin education, marked by scholarly engagement with enduring questions and emerging concerns, prepares students to answer God’s call to live and serve in God’s world as agents of renewal.

At Calvin the month of January is an interim term in which students are encouraged to select a course of academic enrichments not offered during the other semesters. During the interim the college sponsors the January Series, a daily, hour-long cultural enrichment series. Presented at 12:30 pm in the 1000-seat Covenant Fine Arts Center Auditorium on campus, the series is open without charge to students, faculty and the west Michigan community. Despite typical Michigan winter weather, the auditorium fills up and the audience spills over into closed-circuit television rooms as needed. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our founding director, June Hamersma, who served as the series director for its first 20 years, the January Series has become an important part of the cultural and educational offerings in the state and has received nationwide attention. The International Platform Society, founded by Daniel Webster in 1834, has awarded the series the Silver Bowl Award for “Best Campus Lecture Series in the U.S.A.” three times (1994, 1995 & 1999) and has since retired the award. In 2008 we opened our program beyond our auditorium walls to remote sites across the country. Each year we have expanded and in 2015 we will have 40+ churches, schools and community centers across North America—and one European site—that will watch the live presentation as part of our January Series audience. In 2014 we had a total audience of more than 38,000 people over the fifteen days of lectures.

Our Mission

The foundation for excellence both in the classroom at Calvin College and at the January Series is the philosophy that an outstanding liberal arts education teaches students how to think, not what to think. We want our students to look at current ideas critically in light of history and creatively with an eye to the future. We support freedom of speech and expression; we encourage faculty, students and the community to listen to viewpoints that differ from their own. Bringing excellent speakers on a wide variety of topics to campus is one very valuable factor of education at Calvin.