On Wednesday, October 22nd, SPU canceled all classes so faculty, staff, and students could attend Day of Common Learning, where talks and sessions were based on the theme of power. Below are the thoughts of some of our Library staff who attended lectures and taught sessions.
Keynote: The Good News About Power
Andy Crouch began his keynote address about power by addressing the problem that conversations about power are usually either cynical or naive, and asked the question of whether it was possible to have a talk that was both honest and hopeful. Crouch felt that was possible with some reframing of the grammar and definition of power. He then offered some descriptions of power, including Nietzsche’s concept that all people want to individually exert their power as widely as possible, forcing them into conflict with others who try and exert their own power. Crouch offered an alternative view of power from First Genesis, saying that our power comes from our ability as image bearers of Christ to make things that are “very good.” Crouch then offered several examples of this in physics, art, and music – showing how scientists and artists can use their ability to affect change to increase power for everyone. For example Henry Ossawa Tanner’s painting The Banjo Player – which took an instrument and music style that was being caricaturized and oppressed, and gave it a fuller expression in showing the importance of the banjo as part of African-American culture and community. Finally, he gave a two-by-two chart (for the business majors, he teased) showing a cross of authority – defined as the ability to affect change (authority), and vulnerability – to show the amount of risk one is exposed to. Crouch believes that low authority and high vulnerability results in poverty; low authority and low vulnerability is safety; high authority and low vulnerability is idolatry and injustice; and only with high authority and high vulnerability can we be image bearers.
– Carrie Fry
Session 1: Re-thinking Power and Powerlessness: Listening to Iraqi Voices in Blogs from Baghdad
Dr. Segall’s talk yesterday focused on ways that the Western world tends looks at conflict in the Middle East. The ways in which our media tends to portray the Middle East as one homogenous region, whose religions and beliefs are all blurred into one. We talked about looking at the stories we hear from both sides of a conflict. For example, some of us may see the veil as forced upon women, as a sign of oppression. Dr. Segall pointed out that yes, there is oppression and power when forcing women to wear the veil, but there is also power when women make their own choice to wear it. She spoke about her own experiences of daily life from recently living in Iraq with her daughter. One of the main messages that I came out of this talk with was to remember to look to other sources of information for a clearer picture of the individuals living in conflict.
– Jo Krogh
Session 2: Technology and Power
Ryan Ingersoll, Michael Paulus, and David Wicks
David Wicks started the session sharing about the new Digital Education Leadership M.Ed. program. Wicks stressed the program’s intentional flexibility, as it is built around a unique sandboxed learning environment with team-taught courses, project-based learning, beta tests technology tools, and a preference towards using open access educational resources. Wicks touched on some of the important issues K-12 and higher education technologists, teachers, and students are navigating. Michael Paulus spoke next, reminding us of the long history of technology and invited us on journey to the past. Paulus shared about the different views of technology as liberator, oppressor, and instrument. To that end, Paulus introduced the need for attention and framed it by the Ten Commandments through the love of God and neighbor. Ryan Ingersoll closed the session with reflections about course topics on digital citizenship, mindfulness, multitasking, digital identity, and vocation. As a group we discussed Facebook’s mood manipulation project and reflected together on power and privacy dynamics. Ryan encouraged a need to focus on relationships in digital spaces by integrating love of God and neighbor, mindfulness, and a balanced approach to life based on the rhythm of Sabbath. Finally, he discussed how we should expand on Andy Crouch’s call towards being image bearers and implement that action of authority and vulnerability in digital spaces we inhabit.
– Ryan Ingersoll