Spring 2019 Programs

Each year, the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom (CSRF) sponsors educational initiatives that both engage the campus community and reach beyond the University to invite the larger public into its ongoing exploration of religious freedom. Many events are arranged in partnership with local organizations and faith communities, and include interfaith dialogue, guest speakers, and trainings to teach skills needed for building relationships across differences.

Speakers’ perspectives are intended to invite civil discussion and dialogue, but don’t necessarily reflect the policy or position of Virginia Wesleyan University. Please join us for these special opportunities to build bridges of understanding between people of different worldviews.

All CSRF events are free, open to the public and are held on the VWU campus unless otherwise noted.

For more information, call 757.455.3129 or email csrf@vwu.edu.

Mediating Religious Conflict Series

The programs in this series are part of a spring semester religious studies course, “Mediating Religious Conflict.” The course, taught by CSRF Director Dr. Craig Wansink, highlights the kinds of conflicts, disagreements, and differences that exist between and among religions in the United States. The class blends course work, skills-based trainings (see Training Sessions), and interreligious experiences, and aims to prepare students for meaningful engagement with the religious diversity around us. Members of the community are invited to join discussions with several guest speakers who look at areas where religious conflicts exist, and discuss how to break through poor communication to have meaningful dialogue about very important issues.

Topics include:


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Equipping Agents of Change: Training Sessions

Conflict is a natural part of life. It affects and influences daily life in minor and major ways. At its best, it motivates and inspires progress. Too often, however, the ways in which we respond to conflict and disagreement-–personally, communally, nationally, and globally—damages relationships, widens divides, and diminishes prospects for finding solutions.

Training sessions include:


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Honoring the Legacies of Peacemakers

In the early hours of October 31, 2018, Robert “Bob” C. Nusbaum died at the age of 94. Bob was the inspiration behind the 1996 founding of the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom. In a letter dated November 14, 1995, Bob wrote, “I venture to guess that more persons have been slaughtered in the name of religion than from any other cause… In this continuing saga of man’s inhumanity to man, the one bright light that goes beyond mere tolerance is Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom. It laid the foundation for the First Amendment, and has served as a beacon for all enlightened constitutions ever since.”

Topics include:


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VWU Student Engagement

A liberal arts education brings students to see connections between classroom learning and real life issues. Through project-based partnerships with VWU courses and study-away experiences, the Center helps students recognize how religious freedom issues not only run through the curriculum, but also shape their daily lives and have broad impact at local, national, and global levels.

Topics include:

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Ethics Bowl Demonstration

The Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges’ (VFIC) annual Ethics Bowl competition brings together student teams from each of the 15 VFIC member institutions for lively debate and consideration of applied ethics—real-world dilemmas that affect people’s lives in increasingly complex ways. As the Virginia Wesleyan Ethics Bowl team prepares to compete at the VFIC Ethics Bowl, the Center hosts a debate demonstration, with the audience having the opportunity to interact, critique, and discuss. Please come to help students prepare for the VFIC competition, hosted this year by Roanoke College on February 10-11.

Ethical Issues and Social Justice
(February 7, 2019 @ 7:00 p.m.)


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Nexus Interfaith Dialogue Series: The Role of Scripture in Faith

The purpose of the Nexus programs this semester is to get people to think about, and to recognize, how different people or branches of a religion reflect on scripture in different ways.

NEXUS Topics include:

Lecture Topic:


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Life Matters Series

In “Life Matters,” members of the Wesleyan community offer autobiographical reflections on their emotional, intellectual, and spiritual experiences. These deeply personal talks create meaningful opportunities for greater understanding and connection, encouraging each of us to think about what has shaped us and given our own life meaning. The series is sponsored in partnership with the Chaplain’s Office and the Center for Innovative Teaching and Engaged Learning (INTEL) at Virginia Wesleyan University.


  • Dave Garraty, Professor of Management, Business, Economics
    (March 12, 2019 @ 12:00 p.m.)
  • Brandon Elliott ‘03, Head Softball Coach
    (April 4, 2019 @ 12:00 p.m.)
  • Dr. Mavel Velasco, Professor of Hispanic Studies
    (April 25, 2019 @ 12:00 p.m.)


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