The Day of Common Learning

By: | Posted: August 25, 2014

The 13th annual Day of Common Learning is an all-day event on October 22 in which the University suspends classes and gathers the community together to explore a significant idea or interest. The theme for this year is “The Promise and Perils of Power: Fostering Human Flourishing in a Broken World.”

andy_crouch150-150Key Note Address

The Good News About Power

Andy Crouch – Executive Editor, Christianity Today

Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 10 a.m.

Royal Brougham Pavilion

Lord Acton’s dictum that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is both common knowledge and common sense. Yet there is more than one kind of power. Power rooted in creation rather than coercion is the source of true flourishing—even though creative power, too, can be corrupted. We will consider the roots and implications of the Christian faith’s understanding of both the corruption, and the redemption, of creative power.

Andy Crouch is the executive editor of Christianity Today. He is the author of Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power and Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. Previously he was editor-in-chief of re:generation quarterly, a magazine for culturally creative Christians. He also served with Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship at Harvard University. He studied classics at Cornell University and received a master’s in divinity from Boston University School of Theology.



Afternoon Seminars

1–1:50 p.m., repeated 2–2:50 p.m.


Asian Americans: Power, Oppression and Identity

Weter Hall 201

Asian Americans in the United States are often portrayed as one monolithic group, but the histories, cultures and stories about power, oppression and identity are diverse.  Join us in a “living room” conversation about our own family histories (Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese American), questions and insights about these dynamics and how they have played out in our roles at SPU.

Susan Okamoto Lane, Director of Multi-Ethnic Programs

Bo Lim, University Chaplain

Billy Vo, Director, Asian American Ministry Program



Cultural Perspectives on Power: A Multicultural Panel Discussion

Demaray Hall 259

A.C.E. Language Institute students from Brazil, Kuwait, Libya, Turkey, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia will share their perspectives on issues of power surrounding gender, education, class, and politics. In this panel format, these students will explore with each other and with audience members how the meaning of power is understood and enacted in their homelands around these cultural markers.

Michelle Soule, Assistant Director, A.C.E. Language Institute

A.C.E. students



Desiring Power: Detecting Your Inner Narcissist

Demaray Hall 261

Is it morally wrong to desire power and influence? Does having power necessarily corrupt us? In this session, we will explore these questions in depth along with the various reasons why individuals desire and obtain positions of leadership and power. Participants will reflect on their own tendencies toward narcissism and discuss how these inclinations may impact their potential as future leaders. Informed by both empirical research on the topics of narcissism and self-esteem and a biblical worldview, we will examine some ways we can determine if our motives for power-seeking are honorable.

Dana Kendall, Assistant Professor of Industrial-Organizational Psychology



Empowering Students by Empowering Faculty:

The Intersection of Strategies and Faith

Note: room change – Demaray Hall 255

Come join in conversation proposing strategies and techniques to empower students and faculty through special accommodations for classroom learning. This session will facilitate a better understanding of 504 plans (modifications and accommodations for students to have the same opportunity to perform in the classroom as their peers), as well as autism and other special needs, in order to increase student engagement and interaction. Participants will acquire evidence-based strategies and techniques — such as meeting deadlines, engaging in classroom conversation, improving writing skills, and self-advocating — for teaching and learning course material more efficiently. We’ll also discuss how appropriate open communication between students and faculty can benefit learning and self-advocacy.

Debby Hudson, Assistant Professor of Special Education

Jorge Preciado, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education



Helping, Power, and Tent City 3

Library Seminar Room (2nd floor) 

Helping others is a fundamental part of human behavior and an integral component of healthy social functioning. The benefits of helping are readily apparent, but less obvious is the power dynamic involved in helping transactions. Helping relations can be power relations, in that the giver possesses some resource that the recipient lacks. This session explores the psychology of helping and power, and then applies relevant theoretical frameworks to increase understanding of ineffective and effective approaches to helping. We will use Tent City 3 as a key illustration.

Margaret Brown, Associate Professor of Psychology

Owen Sallee, Global and Urban Senior Program Coordinator, John Perkins Center


Immigration: Power and Privilege

Weter 202

Is immigration an issue of power and privilege? Join reconciliation and justice advocates in an informative discussion in understanding the stories that can help us be reconcilers as it relates to the politics of immigration. We will work to understand the role place plays both for how we see ourselves and how migrants see themselves. Through Latino metaphors, Latino Pentecostalism, and the Latino church in the Pacific Northwest students will discover the way of “just-mutuality,” with and for the other.

W. Tali Hairston, Director, John M. Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training, and Community Development

Maria-Jose Soerens, Executive Director & Clinical Supervisor; Puentes: Advocacy, Counseling & Education



Models of (Servant) Leadership in Music and the Military

Demaray Hall 355

Power wielded rightly becomes effective leadership. Leadership exercised with a servant heart becomes productive empowerment. Perhaps surprisingly, endeavors as diverse as the musical ensemble and the military formation thrive when so led. Director of Bands Danny Helseth (U.S. Air Force) and Professor Bill Woodward (Army National Guard) draw on personal experience and historical example to extract leadership principles translatable into many arenas, from pedagogy to ministry, inviting the audience to offer additional applications.

Bill Woodward, Professor of History

Daniel Helseth, Director of Bands



Pathologies of Power: Medicine, Society, and Social Justice

Otto Miller Hall 128

This session will probe our common understanding of modern medicine. Just prior to World War I, American medicine began to be transformed from an unregulated art to a modern scientific enterprise. Since then, we have tended to understand medicine as a modernized and evolving field of knowledge, and its practitioners as stoic and objective scientists licensed to treat ailments as mundane as acne or as complex as HIV/AIDS. In our post-modern era, academics and medical activists have sought to lay bare the social, political, economic, and subjective dimensions influencing medical practice, health care policies, and social justice. Based on with the assumption that health is a human right, we will examine how “structural violence,” social and economic inequities that determine who is vulnerable to abuses and neglect and who is protected from them, impacts the health of communities.

Max Hunter, Assistant Professor of Biology



Practices of Power: Social Media, Citizen Journalism, and Mars Hill Church

Demaray Hall 150

Social media and citizen journalism are disrupting the patterns of power in mass communication, transforming both traditional media and many social and cultural institutions. Drawing from the work of media scholar Clay Shirky, this workshop will examine the role of social media and citizen journalism in the controversies surrounding Seattle’s Mars Hill Church. What can social media and citizen journalism show us about the practice of power in the 21st century? And in the coverage of Mars Hill, to what degree did social media push traditional outlets such as The New York Times and The Seattle Times to the sidelines?

Rick Jackson, Assistant Professor of Journalism



The Power of Christian Servanthood for Global Development

Otto Miller Hall 118

Please join us for this interactive session to explore the true nature of power for Christians who seek to enhance human flourishing in overseas settings. Kathleen Braden, professor of geography and coordinator of the Global Development Studies major, will moderate a reflective discussion by three people who have worked or studied abroad: Nathan Nelson, 2014 GDS graduate who now works as an employment specialist at World Relief and has experience in Peru and Guatemala; GDS major Elisa Raney, who grew up in Muslim-majority Indonesia; and GDS major Summer Downs, who recently spent time in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan.

Kathleen Braden, Professor of Geography

Nathan Nelson, Elisa Raney, Summer Downs, GDS students



The Power of Consumption

Demaray Hall 360

Do you know how to vote with your dollars? What power does a consumer have to impact global events and phenomena? More than you may think. The dollars you spend every day may seem like a small amount to you, but aggregately they have the power to enslave or free, to heal or sicken, to build or destroy. Come and discover how your choices make a difference and learn about tools that can help you harness your power to promote human flourishing.

Geri Mason, Assistant Professor of Economics



Reflections on God’s Power

Eaton Hall 112

Oftentimes, the claim that God is “all-powerful” is quite prominent in theological discourse. Many simply assume that one of the markers of the divine life—what makes God “God” so to speak—is that God is all-powerful or “omnipotent.” Nevertheless, it is worth asking: Why is this divine attribute so emphasized and privileged on the contemporary scene? What does it mean? And how is God’s power as revealed in Scripture different from other accounts of power? These are some of the guiding questions and concerns that will guide this session.

Daniel Castelo, Associate Professor of Theology



Re-thinking Power and Powerlessness:

Listening to Iraqi Voices in Blogs from Baghdad

Otto Miller Hall 109

What can we learn from a Sunni feminist from Baghdad as she blogs about her experience as a woman living through war? How can her blog on Baghdad Burning help us to understand the development of conflict, especially in Fallujah during the occupation and in neighborhoods split by sectarian gangs? How does this blog and its history illuminate the fracture of this fragile democracy, currently seen in the power of ISIS to conquer the terrain? When does the blogger finally write about her vision of reconciliation, after the lost unity? What has happened to the many Iraqi refugees, who fled to Syria, and now have had to flee again? Having recently returned from living in northern Iraq, Dr. Segall, author of Performing Democracy in Iraq and South Africa, will challenge the audience to read texts and watch protest as a way to listen to unheard voices in war regions.

Kimberly Wedeven Segall, Professor of English



“Speak the Word Only and I Shall Be Healed”: 

Power and Poetry

Bertona 1

One notion of the function of power lies in our ability to manipulate the material world through force, above all through technology. In this session we will explore another notion of power by drawing on both the Bible and Shakespeare’s Tempest, where power is located in the Word–and in words. But what is the nature of such power, and what is its purpose? Can Shakespeare’s Prospero force change in others? Can God?

Doug Thorpe, Professor of English



Technology and Power

Bertona 3

From Babel to the New Jerusalem, technology has been central to questions about power and to the quest for power. Utopian visions, such as Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, and dystopian visions, such as Michel Foucault’s panopticism, respectively emphasize the liberating and oppressive power of technological advances. In an age of increased access to powerful Internet, social media, and mobile technologies, how do we use these technologies wisely to become wiser? And, given the significant asymmetries of power connected with these digital technologies — when companies such as Facebook can conduct massive mood manipulation experiments that make thousands of users sad — what creative power do we have as individuals? This session will explore these and related questions with a particular focus on the theological discussions occurring within the inaugural class of SPU’s new Digital Education Leadership Program.

Michael J. Paulus, Jr., University Librarian and Associate Professor

David Wicks, Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Chair, Digital Education Leadership Program

Ryan Ingersoll, Head of Library Technology and MEd candidate in Digital Education Leadership



We Call It the ORCA-Stance

Otto Miller Hall 119 

How comfortable are you when another holds a different perspective than you do? How aware are you of the influence that you have on another person during a strained interaction? How well do you manage your own internal anxieties/frustrations when another person pushes your buttons? What skills might you be able to develop to show Jesus’ “love and justice” in your interactions? We will discuss and “experience” the model used by our program to address the questions above. It will be interactive and engaging. A key component of ORCA echoes today’s focus on “redeeming the gift of power.”

Claudia Grauf-Grounds, Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy

Hee-Sun Cheon, Assistant Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy

Scott Edwards, Associate Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy

Don MacDonald, Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy

Tina Schermer Sellers, Director of Medical Family Therapy Program

Steven Maybell, Director of SPU Student Counseling Center

MFT students/alumni



Who Has the Power in Award-Winning Young Adult Literature?

Examining Protagonist Literacy Practices Across Race and Gender

Bertona 6

Explore the literacy practices of adolescent and adult protagonists in recent (2000–2013) young adult award-winning literature in terms of dominant literacy metaphors. Metaphors can be used to make assertions about how literacy in important cultural texts is situated ideologically by gender and ethnicity. Although our society tends to avoid critical and open discussions of gender and race, literature study affords us an avenue to do so with the clarity of situated examples when protagonist actions are described in ways that map onto our recognizable experiences so that we can self-reflect while reading. Audience members will have the opportunity to identify the dominant literacy metaphor at work in the popular novels of John Green, Suzanne Collins, and other best-selling fiction and non-fiction authors.​

Kristine Gritter, Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction

Xu Bian, Kristi Kanehen, students



A Woman’s Place is in the House, the Senate, and the Boardroom:

Do Women Make a Difference in Positions of Power?                  

Bertona 4

Do you ever wonder what difference it makes to have a woman in power? How is competence evaluated for men and women? And what challenges might women in power face that men don’t? This session explores these ideas focusing on questions of gender and power positions in government and business.


Ruth Ediger, Associate Professor of Political Science

Denise Daniels, Professor of Management




Talk back session with Andy

3–4 p.m. | Demaray Hall 150


Come meet Andy Crouch and ask him questions about what you saw and heard during the day.



Invisible Young

7–9 p.m. | First Free Methodist Church

Invisible Young is an inspiring, award-winning documentary film that tells the life stories of four young adults, all of whom lived on the streets of Seattle as teenagers. It takes a revealing look at their families, their day-to-day lives, and their possible fates. It follows them as they strive for a hopeful, prosperous future.

Director Steven Keller will be on hand to answer questions afterward in a session moderated by Karen Snedker, Associate Professor of Sociology.


Save the Date: October 28

Race in America after Ferguson:

Act Justly, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with Your God 

7–9 p.m. | Upper Gwinn Commons

Join SPU faculty and staff later this month as they offer historical and theological context to process the recent events in Ferguson as they relate to race relations. In addition to presenting, they will engage each other in dialogue, and initiate a conversation for our whole community. Breakout sessions on a variety of topics will follow the main session. Representatives from the John Perkins Center, the Reconciliation Studies program, and Multi-Ethnic Programs will be available to offer resources for those interested in ongoing engagement.


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