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Westminster/Wesleyan University: Spring 2019 Schedule

These courses are offered on-site at no cost to those living at Westminster-Canterbury.
All classes taught by Virginia Wesleyan faculty


Course 1: Seeing Through the Social Media

Presented by: Dr. Benson P. Fraser, Westminster-Canterbury Fellow for Religious Studies and Lifelong Learning.

Course Description: In the age of internet and social media many people live by the motto: ‘I text therefore I am.’ This class explores what it means for our generation and those generations coming after us to live with and use these new media technologies. By examining current research and interacting with experts using these media we will try to make sense out of the influence this technology is having on our culture. The “new media” is shaping our lives and the lives of our children (and grandchildren) in ways that few of us could have imagined.

Dates and weekly topics:

  • Tuesday, January 29th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: The development of Social Media and what it means today
  • Tuesday, February 5th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: How Social Media is influencing our culture--especially our young people
  • Tuesday, February 12th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: How Social Media is affecting our understanding of reality and identity
  • Tuesday, February 19th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: How Social Media influences our personal life and face-to-face communication
  • Tuesday, February 26th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: The Business of Social Media
  • Tuesday, March 5th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: Facebook, Twitter, fake news, and the media that tries to control our lives
  • Tuesday, March 12th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: Where do we go from here? And how do we responsibly handle the social media?

Course 2: The Course and The Constitution: A Quiet Revolution in the Making?

Presented by: Dr. Timothy G. O’Rourke (Ph.D., Duke, Political Science) has served as Provost and Vice President at Virginia Wesleyan University since 2007.

Course Description: Four lecture-discussions look at major constitutional controversies now before the U.S. Supreme Court. The significance of the questions, when combined with changed composition of the Court, raise the possibility that landmark developments in constitutional law are in the offing.

Dates and weekly topics:

  • Thursday, February 7th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: Is It Time to Reconsider the Meaning of Double Jeopardy and the Constitutionality of Capital Punishment? The Court Will Decide Two Cases That Could Change the Foundations of Civil Liberties Law.
  • Thursday, February 14th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: How Democratic Is the Constitution? The Court Is Taking Another Look at Partisan Gerrymandering as, Outside the Court, Some Critics Take Aim at the Electoral College and Others Question the Authority of District Court Judges to Issue Nationwide Injunctions.
  • Thursday, February 21th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: Who Regulates the Regulators? The Court Recently Decided One Case Against an Agency Action Affecting an Endangered Species and Is Poised to Decide Another Case That Could Impose a Significant Limitation on the Discretion of Unelected Bureaucrats.
  • Thursday, February 28th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: How Much Does Federalism Still Matter? An Array of Cases Are Testing the Limits of Federal and State Power, Including One in Which the Federal Government Is Supporting a Challenge to a Virginia Law Banning the Mining of Uranium.

Course 3: Oral History: A Study into Qualitative Research

Presented by: Dr. Benson P. Fraser, Westminster-Canterbury Fellow for Religious Studies and Lifelong Learning.

Course Description: This class will investigate the procedures and practices in conducting “oral history” or “life story interviews” (two types of qualitative research). We will not only examine proper research practices, but you will see actual examples of how to conduct in-depth interviews. This will be a lecture and discussion class with plenty of examples from published research.

Dates and weekly topics:

  • Friday, April 5th at 2:00PM in the 5th Floor Lounge: What is “oral history” and various other kinds of qualitative research and why is it important?
  • Friday, April 12th at 2:00PM in the 5th Floor Lounge: How to conduct an interview. Also, we will examine a variety of strategies and procedures when conducting an oral history interview.

Course 4: Germany: 1918-1933

Presented by: Dr. Sara Sewell, Executive Director of The Lighthouse: Center for Exploration and Discovery and Professor of History.

Course Description: This lecture series examines the history of Germany from after World War One (1914-1918) until the establishment of the Third Reich (1933). Our inquiry is multidimensional, examining not only Germany’s new democratic policy, but also its social challenges and exceptionally rich cultural history.

Dates and weekly topics:

  • Friday April 12th at 10:00AM in the Anderson Bayview Room: Recovery from the Great War: This session investigates Germany’s transition from wartime to peacetime. The topics include the Versailles Treaty, the 1918/19 November Revolution, the founding of the democratic Weimar Republic, the 1923 hyperinflation, and the emergence of radical left-wing and right-wing political movements.
  • Friday, April 19th at 10:00AM in the Anderson Bayview Room: Germany’s Stable Years: On the heels of social and political upheaval due largely to the 1923 hyperinflation, Germany enjoyed several years of stability and prosperity. This session focuses on Weimar Germany’s polity, economy, and social order from 1924 through 1929.
  • Friday April 26th at 10:00AM in the Anderson Bayview Room: Cultural Innovations and Cultural Challenges: Weimar Germany stands out for its tremendous cultural production. From its modernist art movement, to its cabaret culture, to its sporting culture, Weimar Germany experienced a cultural renaissance that challenged many contemporaries’ cultural preconceptions. This session explores Weimar’s cultural innovations as well as its critics.
  • Friday, May 10th at 10:00AM in the Anderson Bayview Room: The Collapse of Weimar Democracy: In January 1933, Adolf Hitler of the Nazi Party was appointed chancellor, and within a matter of weeks, the new regime dismantled Germany’s democracy. But the seeds of destruction had actually been planted beginning in 1930. With the spread of the Great Depression to Germany, democracy began to falter, due largely to the fact that few political leaders supported democracy. This session examines late Weimar’s significant political, social, and economic challenges, which laid the groundwork for the establishment of the Third Reich in 1933.

Course 5: Telling the truth: The prophetic voice of Flannery O’Connor

Presented by: Dr. Benson P. Fraser, Westminster-Canterbury Fellow for Religious Studies and Lifelong Learning.

Course Description: Flannery O’Connor’s stories are revealing and riveting journeys into the Christ-haunted South. Here imperfect characters grapple with sin in a fallen world. Her stories are not comfortable tales, they were not intended to be, for she wants to disrupt our half-hearted efforts to live out our faith and give us startling visage of Christ. This class is for anyone who is interested in trying to understand the literature of one of the United States greatest writers—who happens to be a Christian.

Dates and weekly topics:

  • Tuesday, April 2nd at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: Introduction to Flannery O’Connor and her writing.
  • Tuesday, April 9th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: A Good Man is Hard to Find
  • Tuesday, April 16th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: The River
  • Tuesday, April 23rd at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: Good Country People
  • Tuesday, April 30th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: Everything that Rises Must Converge
  • Tuesday, May 7th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: The Lamb Shall Enter First
  • Tuesday, May 14th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: Parker’s Back

Course 6: Studies in the Early Church

Presented by: Dr. Terrence Lindvall, C.S. Lewis Endowed Chair in Communication and Christian Thought and Professor of Communication.

Course Description: This will be a lively and enjoyable study of the reformation from Luther and the Vatican to King Henry VIII and Westminster Canterbury.

Dates and weekly topics:

  • Wednesday, April 17th at 6:30PM in the Penthouse Lounge: From Art to Indulgences: Origins and Reverberations of Luther's Reformation. This class looks at the backdrop of an indulgent and corrupt 16th century Vatican and the cultural response to Martin Luther's call for roman Catholic reform. 
  • Wednesday, April 24th at 6:30PM in the Penthouse Lounge: The Anglican Version: How the Reformation Invaded England and Gave Birth to Westminster Canterbury. This class looks at how Defender of the Faith, King Henry VIII, switched sides.

Course 7: Our American Future: How College Students Perceive Politics and Society

Presented by: Dr. Leslie Caughell, Associate Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Political Science Department, Chair of the International Studies Program

Course Description: In a two-course sequence this class will bring together a demographically and ideologically diverse set of Virginia Wesleyan University students who will share their perceptions about recent elections and contemporary politics. Each student will discuss their concerns about the future, identifying the possibilities that make them optimistic and the challenges about which they feel anxious. These classes aim to facilitate a cross-generational dialogue about politics and society between residents and students. 

Dates and weekly topics:

  • Class One: Youth Perceptions of Recent Elections and Political Events. The first class will explore how students understand the 2016 election and contemporary politics.
  • Class Two: Reasons for Optimism and Anxiety about the Future. The second class will examine what makes students anxious about the future of our country and what makes them feel excited about the future of politics in the United States.

**Please note: The class dates and times will be announced next month in The Chatter as the students from VWU are still finalizing their schedules**


Course 8: Religious Historical Films

Presented by: Dr. Dennis Bounds, Writer, Author, and Adjunct Professor at Virginia Wesleyan University and Dr. Benson P. Fraser, Westminster-Canterbury Fellow for Religious Studies and Lifelong Learning.

Course Description: The Religious Historical film – or “Biopic” – has been a staple of the Hollywood film machine from its black and white silent film beginnings to the full color blockbuster national and international cinema today. Religious biopics center on important historical figures created with big stars and the big budgets to match. Along with the desire for profit there is at its center a semi-accurate portrayal of individuals who made an impact on both the church and history. This series will examine four religious historical films by first screening the film, followed by a discussion of these films and the history they dramatize.

Dates and weekly topics:

  • Friday, May 3rd at 2:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: Martin Luther (1953): This film starring Niall MacGinnis in the title role, tells the story of the rise of the German priest Martin Luther and his role in starting the Protestant Reformation. This film was nominated for two Academy Awards.
  • Friday, May 10th at 2:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: A Man for All Seasons (1966): This film tells the story of Thomas More (Paul Scofield) as he defied King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw) when he turned away from the Roman Catholic Church in order to divorce and remarry.
  • Friday, May 24th at 2:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972): Directed by Franco Zeffirelli, this film dramatizes the life of St. Francis of Assisi including his conversion, his audience with The Pope, and his relationship with St. Clare.
  • Friday, May 31st at 2:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge: Romero (1989): This film covers the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero from 1977 to the day he was assassinated in 1980. Brilliantly portrayed by Raul Julia, Romero transforms from non-political priest to a priest involved in politics and united with his countrymen against the Salvadoran military regime.