D&E Hosting Symposium on Faith, Spirituality and Higher Education

Date Posted: 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

ELKINS - Davis & Elkins College will host a special day-long symposium focusing on the relationship between religion and higher education on Monday, March 14 in Robert C. Byrd Center for Hospitality and Tourism. The Symposium on Faith, Spirituality and Higher Education is open to the public and will be highlighted by a presentation from award-winning national authors, lectures and panel discussions.

The day begins at 8 a.m. with a continental breakfast and registration, followed by presentations at 9 a.m. The cost to attend the event, including lunch and banquet dinner, is $25 per person or $100 for a team of up to eight individuals from an organization. Registration is available online at www.dewv.edu/symposium-faith-spirituality-and-higher-education.

The symposium is one of four initiatives the College will implement through a Chaplaincy Grant from NetVUE and the Council of Independent Colleges with generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc.

“Hosting this symposium allows D&E the unique opportunity to learn alongside other regional colleges and universities about a topic that higher education can no longer put on the back-burner,” says the Rev. Kevin Starcher, Benfield-Vick Chaplain at Davis & Elkins College. “Institutions of higher education must learn to take seriously the influences of religion and spirituality in society. The physical peace of the world, as well as the internal spiritual peace of our students, requires colleges and universities to engage religion and spirituality in a thoughtful, nurturing manner.”

Starcher explains that the purpose of the symposium is three-fold:

  • To provide college administrators, chaplains, faculty members, students and faith leaders an opportunity to explore how religious traditions and practices can enhance the higher education experience;
  • Examine practices for cultivating the positive roles of faith and spirituality within academic institutions;
  • Offer time for institutional teams to develop action plans to nurture and strengthen spiritual and religious life on their respective campuses.

Drs. Rhonda and Douglas Jacobsen, co-authors of the award-winning “No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education,” will offer the keynote address at 9 a.m. and facilitate discussions throughout the day.

The Jacobsens co-direct Religion in the Academy, a project that focuses on the many ways religion, spirituality and big questions of human meaning and purpose interact with university education. They also serve as consultants, workshop leaders and lecturers at public and private campuses.

“No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education” draws on conversations with hundreds of professors, co-curricular educators, administrators and students from institutions spanning the spectrum of American colleges and universities. In the work, the authors illustrate how religion is constructively intertwined with the work of higher education in the 21st century. The book is the winner of the 2013 American Educational Studies Association Critics’ Choice Award.

Panel discussions will share best practices from colleges and universities throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, featuring presenters from Westminster College, Harless Center (a faith-based community for students at West Virginia University), Interfaith Youth Core, the West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Thiel College.

The first panel, “The Value Historic Religions Bring to the Academy,” begins at 10:45 a.m. with presenters the Rev. Matthew Riegel, Bishop of the West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Rebecca Russo, director of campus stewardship at Interfaith Youth Core; and Dr. Curt Thompson, professor of religion and director of the Dietrich Honors Institute at Thiel College.

After lunch, the second panel will be seated at 1:15 p.m. “Nurturing Positive and Healthy Civic Action Through Religious Expression” will include presenters the Rev. Dr. Shelly Barrick-Parsons, executive director of Harless Center; the Rev. Jim Mohr, chaplain and director of church relations at Westminster College; and Russo.

The final panel, “Student Perspective: How College-life and Faith Interact on Campus,” takes place at 2:30 p.m. with students from throughout the region as presenters.

Participants will have an opportunity to reflect and plan in the final session, “Next Steps for Campus Communities,” at 3:45 p.m.

The day wraps up with a tour of the campus and a banquet with closing remarks from the Jacobsens.

For additional information, call Starcher at 304-704-7406.

Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.