Westminster/Wesleyan University: Spring 2021 Schedule

Please see below for the Spring 2021 Course Catalog for the Westminster/Wesleyan Lifelong Learning Institute.  Copies of the catalog are also available in Westminster-Canterbury Resident Services or on the WC Resident Hub at residenthub.org.


Course 1 - Extreme Religion: The Body and Rituals from World Religions

Presented by: Dr. Craig, Wansink, Professor of Religious Studies; Joan P. and Macon F. Brock, Jr., Director of the Robert Nusbaum Center & Chair of Religious Studies

Course Description:What inspires suicide bombers, serpent handlers, or those who engage in self-flagellation or painful piercings?  Why do people embrace celibacy, engage in six-minute marriages, or have multiple spouses?  For the sake of their soul and faith, religious individuals engage in a variety of actions that would be considered extreme in other contexts. This class focuses on religious experience (particularly on ecstatic or extreme religious expressions) and on how such experiences shape adherents’ understanding of the purpose and function of their bodies.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: An Overview of "Mainstream" Extreme Religious Practices

Thursday, January 28th at 1:00PM on Channel 143.
This class session is a quick overview of how biology, psychology, sociology, and history intersect with religious practices. Special case studies will include insights into the use of mercury, bald eagles, Graham crackers, circumcision, and alcohol in religious rituals. 

Lecture 2: Celibacy, Sigheh, Polygamy, and More: The Sexual Side of Religious Rituals

Thursday, February 4th at 1:00PM on Channel 143.
From the celibacy of the Shakers and Roman Catholic Priests, to the polygamy of Muslims and 19th century Mormons, to the unique practices of sigheh, "flirty flishing," and the complex marriages of the Oneida community, sexuality frequently has played a significant role in how religious individuals have understood their faith.

Lecture 3: From Animal Sacrifice to Self-Sacrifice to Religious Terrorism: Violence and Religion

Thursday, February 11th at 1:00PM on Channel 143.
In religion, pain frequently is not a problem, but a solution. This session focuses on how sacrifice, pain, and acts of violence play a role in many people's faith lives.  


Course 2 - Mass Communication and its Influence

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

Course Description: In this investigation of the media, we will examine the social, cultural, and personal influence of the media in our world today. Communication is essential to who we are as human beings, and we cannot live as strong and productive citizens of our world if we do not learn to communicate using the media that are presently available to us. New technologies (which are sometimes bewildering), as well as media that has been around for a long time, present us with new opportunities and new challenges. We need to learn to use and understand new media, as well as the old media, in order to be successful in business, education, religion, politics and in our personal lives. Also, this class will help us develop our media literacy skills in order to be better and more informed citizens.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: An Overview of the Development of Mass Communication

Tuesday, January 26th at 3:00PM on Channel 143.
Welcome to our first week’s lecture. In our effort to understand the development, influence, and best practices of using the media we begin by identifying the four stages in media development which apply to every mass medium. Examining these practices will allow us to examine media use and its influence.
Therefore, this week we are going to begin our journey to understanding the development of mass communication (both old and new). I am interested in helping you understand just how the old technology has influenced the “so called” new technology and our use of these new technologies. Also, it is important to begin to see how technology shapes our behavior and understanding today. As McLuhan said long ago “the media is the message.” This week’s lecture intends to help us think through the process of how media are used and how they shape our lives.

Lecture 2: Books and the Power of Print

Tuesday, February 2nd at 3:00PM on Channel 143.
This lecture looks at books (in their various incarnations). I want you to be become aware of and remember of the early history of book development so that you can understand how this mass medium has developed historically. Furthermore, you will need to be able to understand the following topics: evolution of modern publishing; contemporary book publishing trends; the organization and economics of the book industry today; and the role of books in a democratic society.

Lecture 3: Newspapers to Digital Expansion

Tuesday, February 9th at 3:00PM on Channel 143.
In our effort to understand the development, influence, and best practices or use of mass media we will first examine the newspaper publishing. This form of written communication helped change the cognitive landscape of humankind. Cultures that privilege published material such as newspapers and magazines compel us to think differently than do cultures that are primarily oral.
In this lecture I will try to point out how writing and publishing helps structure our society. It shapes our sense of time and space in ways we hardly notice and influences the way we live. For example, memory, which is so influential in an oral culture, has been deemphasized and shortened with the advent of writing and the development of printed and digital communication.

Lecture 4: Magazines and Their Evolution in the Age of Specialization

Tuesday, February 16th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
Now, with the birth of magazines, we are accustomed to increasing the speed and amount of information or news we receive each day. Newspapers and magazines, like books before them, have helped restructure our politics, economy, and social relationships. We are accustomed to continually getting new information. As some scholars suggest, our thirst to know continues to grow.
In this lecture we will examine both the types of specialized magazines that now populate our communities. Furthermore, we will look at the current organizational structure of magazines as well as the economics structure supporting the magazine industries today.

Lecture 5:  The Development of Sound Recordings and Popular Music

Tuesday, February 23rd at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
With the invention of sound recording technology mass communication was changed forever. Soon both words and music were available for any audience that wanted to listen and consume new information and the emotional power of music. It wasn’t long before many people were creating and listening to the various kinds of sound broadcasting. No longer did people have to read and in order to gather information and enjoy entertainment.

Lecture 6: Radio and the Geneses of Broadcasting

Tuesday, March 2nd at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
In this lecture attention will be given to the development of the early history and evolution of sound recording and radio broadcasting. Sound and radio broadcast technology have not been static but they both continue to change and development. As sound and radio change, our society and the radio industry has transformed to account for the changes in the broadcasting industry. Today, music has moved to streaming services and musicians are trying to figure out how to support themselves and their art in this new environment.
Furthermore, the development of radio was important because it set the stage for movies and especially television. Today, radio have moved from a primary and important mass medium to become a background and somewhat less important medium.

Lecture 7: Movies and the Influence of Images

Tuesday, March 9th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
This week I am lecturing on images (especially moving images) and how we became an image dominated culture. Images have always had consequences in our society, yet it was not until the birth of the moving images that they became a dominant force within our culture. Movies, as an art form, were slow to develop as they were limited by their dependence on diverse technology innovations to tell their stories. However, once movies overcame the challenges of the narrative techniques and technological limitations they quickly secured a prominent place of influence within our society. Today movies are considered a major art form but they are struggling to adjust to the demands of the internet and the accompanying small screens.

Lecture 8: Television, Cable, and Specialization in Visual Culture

Tuesday, March 16th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
In this lecture we will discuss the history of the development of television and the evolution of the network programming. Furthermore, we will examine the impact of cable programming on the major television networks; how advances in technology and convergence changed viewing habits and the economics of television.

Lecture 9: The Internet and the New Technologies

Tuesday, March 23rd at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
This lecture will be examining the use and influence of the internet on our culture. This new technology has profoundly changed our lives. Almost every part of our society has felt the effect of these new technological innovations. With the internet, we have entered a time of almost constant change and adjustment in politics, business, social relations, religion, and education. Our culture and our world have staggered under the influence of these emerging technologies (internet and social media). I hope that this lecture will help us to reflect on how these technologies are influencing our lives and how we have been influenced through our use of both the internet and social media.
The changes brought about by the internet have led to media convergence of all types and in so doing, changed the cultural landscape of our society. This lecture will try to make sense of all these changes as well as discussing how the internet functions in a democratic society.

Lecture 10: The Media Playground and the History of Digital Gaming

Tuesday, March 30th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
This lecture will be examining the use and influence of digital games created by advancements in digital technology. These new technological advancements have profoundly changed our culture and our lives. Almost every part of our society has felt the effect of these new digital innovations. With the coming of the internet and digital media we have entered a time of almost constant change and adjustment in the areas of politics, business, social relations, religion, education, and entertainment. Our culture and our world have staggered under the influence of these emerging technologies. It is transforming every aspect of our lives. I intend for this lecture to help us reflect on how these technologies are influencing our life and the lives of our children and grandchildren.

Lecture 11: Advertising and Mercantile Culture

Tuesday, April 6th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
Advertising is an area of commerce, which is relatively new. It is important to see how it has developed in our society and how it has changed to reflect the new technological environment it now inhabits. Not only has it changed our business environment, but it has changed us as well. This lecture will investigate these changes in our environment and within our lives.

Lecture 12: Public Relations and Framing the Message

Tuesday, April 13th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
This lecture will examine public relations in a democratic society. We will discuss the early history of public relations and how it has evolved into the social force it occupies in our culture today. In so doing we will explore the tensions between Public relations and the press. Due to the invention, development and use of the internet by those engaged in public relations we are currently going through tremendous transformation in just how one engages and practices public relations in our world today. 

Lecture 13: Legal Regulations and Freedom of Expression

Tuesday, April 20th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
This lecture will address issues of legal controls and freedom of expression. These legal issues and especially the Freedom of Expression are fundamental to how we communicate and organize our country and culture. Today, the freedom of expression is being challenged and is complicated by the presence of new media in our society as well as the presence of the internet or social media in our political, educational, economic, religious, and social environment. These new technologies create new problems for those of us trying to protect freedom of expression in our country.

Lecture 14: Media Economics and the Worldwide Arena

Tuesday, April 27th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
The media economics in our country (as it is in every country) is greatly influenced by the new global marketplace. The new technological inventions of every sort have fundamentally changed the landscape of our economic environment. Economic information travels faster and further than ever before and the rate of change and speed of information transfer has created new challenges to every country in our world. Change is the norm and those governments, organizations and companies that cannot keep up will struggle economically and culturally in this new mediated environment.

Lecture 15: Media Effects and Media Research

Tuesday, May 4th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
This lecture will investigate what current research can tell us about how to better understand and use the media, as well as what are the new media’s effects on our world. It is a challenged to keep up with the changing media landscape but there is a considerable amount of research trying to do just that. Media research and media literacy are important sources of information and can help us navigate this new media environment. Nevertheless, it is a constant battle to keep up with the ever-changing media technology and its influence in our lives.

Lecture 16: The Future of the Media and its Influence

Tuesday, May 11th at 3:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
This last lecture will focus on where we are headed as a country and the place of the media in the development of our society and our communities. We will look at what we have learned and then speculate as to the future of the mass media both here and in other countries.


Course 3 - The Age of Reformation

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

Course Description: An overview of one of the most decisive moments in Church History.

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: A Wayward Medieval Church and Its Early Reformers

Monday, February 15th at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.

Lecture 2: How Majestic Art Provoked the Reformation

Monday, February 22nd at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.

Lecture 3: The Man, the Mission, and the Mighty Mouth of Martin Luther

Monday, March 1st at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.

Lecture 4: The Swiss Reformation: Part I: Zwingli and the AnaBaptists Radicals

Monday, March 8th at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.

Lecture 5: The Swiss Reformation: Part II: John Calvin and Post tenebras lux

Monday, March 15th at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.

Lecture 6: The Anglican Reformation in the Age of Tudors 

Monday, March 22nd at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.

Lecture 7: Women of the Reformation

Monday, March 29th at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.

Lecture 8: Seeking to Restore: The Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation

Monday, April 5th at 1:00PM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.


Course 4 - Whither and/or Wither the American Experiment?

Presented by: Dr. Timothy G. O’Rourke (Ph.D., Duke, Political Science) is Vice President Emeritus at Virginia Wesleyan University, having served at VWU from 2007 to 2019. As Dean of the Fulton School of Liberal Arts at Salisbury University (2002-07), he received the Maryland Association of Higher Education’s annual “Outstanding Administrator” Award. He has taught at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (1995-2002), where he was Teresa Fischer Professor in Citizenship Education and directed Kids Voting Missouri, achieving the Missouri Bar’s E.A. Richter Award for Excellence in Citizenship Education in 2001. As a faculty member in the University of Virginia’s Center for Public Service (1978-92), he was director of the Virginia Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution (1985-92). He also has held faculty positions at Clemson University (Professor and Department Head) and Campbell University. His teaching interests include state politics, school law, Tocqueville, and redistricting. He has testified on voting issues before U.S. Senate and House committees; the U.S. Supreme Court has cited his expert testimony.

Course Description: Five lectures look at the state of American society and politics at a time when serious commentators worry about the possible breakdown or breakup of the United States—see, for example, David French’s Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation (St. Martin’s Press, 2020). The country has faced greater divisions in the past and so the series begins in Lecture #1 with a reconsideration of Abraham Lincoln, whose legacy, as a sign of the times, is now assailed in some quarters. Lecture #2 profiles our population. Lecture #3 looks at the evidence that the social fabric is fraying, while lecture #4 examines the shaky finances of the federal government. Lecture #5 asks, in effect, “how’s our Constitution?” Does it still work after 234 years?

Dates and Weekly Topics:

Lecture 1: “What Can Lincoln Teach Us?”

Friday, April 16th at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
“Lincoln had succeeded under the most trying circumstances imaginable in the history of the republic,” observes Allen C. Guelzo in Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President (William B. Eerdmans, 1999). Guelzo goes on, “As a result, the nature of the republic as a nation . . . was confirmed. . . His self-control showed even in his prose . . . Lincoln never indulged in the ‘high diction’ one finds . . . in so many of his contemporaries, when patriotic feelings seemed almost to bring a speaker to the point of histrionics.” Perhaps Lincoln’s exemplary political leadership may suggest a way out of our current national predicament.

Lecture 2: “Who Are We?”

Friday, April 23rd at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
In a highly controversial 2004 book entitled Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity (Simon & Schuster), Samuel P. Huntington worries that “[t]he notions of nation, national identity, and national interest may be losing relevance and usefulness.” In considering national identity, this lecture looks first at the nation’s changing composition. The United States has added 100 million people since the 1980 census. With 330 million people, it is now the third largest country in the world. When we look inside this count, what do we see? How have our people changed over the past 50 years and what will they look like in 2050? How will the 2020 census results affect congressional reapportionment and the balance between the two major parties?

Lecture 3: “Why Are the Bonds of Society Fraying?”

Friday, April 30th at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
Kevin Vallier begins his new book, Trust in a Polarized Age (Oxford University Press, 2021), by noting that only 32 percent of Americans now believe “that most people can be trusted”; fifty years ago, it was “around half.” Further, says Vallier, only 17 percent trust the government, versus more than 70 percent in the 1960s. The social fabric is being stretched, perhaps to the point of tearing. Why is this so and what can be done about it?

Lecture 4: “Is the Government Broke?”

Friday, May 7th at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, total federal debt, which was about $9 trillion as recently as 2009, has soared to $27 trillion—an amount that exceeds the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Absent major changes in federal policy, federal outlays will exceed revenues every year between now and 2050, at which time the federal debt held by the public will amount to about twice GDP and interest on the debt will account for a fourth of federal spending, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Is this level of debt sustainable or is the country drifting toward a fiscal iceberg, with the moment of disaster the only uncertainty?

Lecture 5: “Is the Constitution Broken?”

Friday, May 14th at 11:00AM in the Penthouse Lounge and on Channel 143.
Twenty-twenty, described by many as annus horribilis, ended with Congress and the President, literally in the waning hours of the year, contending over a $2.3 trillion expenditure package to keep the government open and to provide additional pandemic relief. Depending on who occupies the White House, either Republicans or Democrats complain about an unrestrained “pen and a phone” President; critics of various political stripes assail a “deep state” bureaucracy and activist judges. Is something fundamentally wrong? Is reform needed (or even possible)?