Exchanging diverse ideas

January Series once again encourages, challenges, inspires


Spring 2014

Jennifer Wiseman was on Calvin’s campus this January as part of the annual January Series. Wiseman, the senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope, shared striking images of faraway galaxies—as well as those from our own Milky Way—taken by the orbiting telescope.

To demonstrate the expansiveness of the universe, Wiseman spoke of the 200 billion stars in our own galaxy and the hundreds of billions of galaxies that exist beyond the Milky Way.

As a Christian scientist, she revealed some of her thoughts on the universe. “There are two things I hope you leave this lecture with,” she said. “The universe is beautiful and the universe is active, and as I learn more about it I am filled with ever-increasing wonder and awe.”

Wiseman said that the Bible doesn’t give us details on how God creates, but that there is “amazing harmony” in the universe and what the universe demonstrates is the “extravagance of God.”

Like Wiseman, 14 other presenters shared their wisdom and expertise with attendees of this year’s January Series.

Former U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe shared thoughts on how to fix the stalemate in Congress. Isabel Wilkerson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author, featured the little-known story of the migration of black Americans who, from 1915 to 1970, fled the South in search of a better life.

Two Calvin alumni also took part in the series. Kevin Schut ’96, an associate professor of media and communication at Trinity Western University in British Columbia, discussed the compatibility of Christianity with video games and other interactive media. Anne Zaki ‘99, a native of Egypt who teaches at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, reflected on life in Egypt for Middle Eastern Christians following the Arab Spring.

Calvin President Michael LeRoy also shared thoughts on the sustainability of higher education and the future of Calvin College.

“The thing I love about the January Series is it’s an opportunity to continue to learn at all different ages,” said January Series director Kristi Potter. “At Calvin we value questioning and learning, and we want to learn from the best. The January series is one way we do that.”

The 2014 January Series was available at 44 remote sites, including 17 states, three Canadian provinces and one European location.