Monday, April 11, 2011

Symposium: A 14-Year-Old Gordon Tradition

One of the most anticipated days of the spring term for faculty and students is the annual Symposium Day—Thursday, April 14. This year marks the 175th birthday anniversary of A. J. Gordon, the founder of Gordon College. To commemorate this event, Symposium will focus on several of the themes A. J. Gordon stood for and promoted throughout his life—servant leadership, evangelism, and global missions. These values inspired and informed a fresh vision for the 21st century and are still relevant today. This year’s title is “Origins and Originality: Keeping the Faith.”

Symposium is a day-long series of workshops, seminars, exhibits and performances in which students take the reins. Sponsored by the Center for Christian Studies, Symposium promotes opportunities for Christian scholars to deepen and broaden public conversations about important issues. Though faculty, alumni and outside speakers have been known to submit their work for consideration, it’s the students who lead events and discussions of their own design—a tradition spanning 14 years. “My favorite moment in the history of the Symposium was when the students took it over,” said Provost Mark Sargent. “It began as a day of common learning with a big lecture in the chapel, but it then evolved into a smorgasbord of sessions planned by students for students. And sometimes students choose to go where the curriculum doesn’t go.”

This year’s symposium begins with a special Catacombs service on Wednesday, April 13, from 11 p.m. to midnight. Presentations this year include mountaintop coal removal, gang life, capitalism, social entrepreneurship, racial reconciliation, green business, the Middle East, and more.

“Symposium is one of my favorite days in the academic year,” says Keith Krass, academic dissemination coordinator. “I am continually impressed by the creativity and depth of the student body at Gordon. I love the fact that our students have a chance to own the day and present issues that are dear to their hearts.”

Two days of events leading up to Symposium this year will include a lecture on social justice and peacemaking by David Gil of Brandeis University, and the annual Oxford-style debate with students enrolled in the Jerusalem Athens Forum as they publicly tackle a free-market economy.

For information contact the Center for Christian Studies or visit the Gordon Symposium webpage.

Photo: During Symposium, biology major Anna Jonker ’13, will copresent the impact of mountaintop coal mining removal practices based on her field research in West Virginia. Read her story here.

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