Changing Minds

Changing Minds

Friday, September 25, 2009
10:00 a.m. -- 4:00 p.m.
Swift Hall, 1025 E. 58th Street
The University of Chicago

As the old cliché has it, the only constant is change. Change has been inescapable in recent political rhetoric, and is a permanent and central theme in both academic and religious communities. We change lives. We change our minds, or the minds of others. We change societies or the world.

"Changing Minds" was the theme of the fall conference for the Divinity School's Border Crossing Project. The conference looked at how our minds have changed, and how the world is changed--in both church and academy. It examined how change comes about, and how these two cultures are similar and different when it comes to change. The conference was be multi-disciplinary and multi-vocational, designed for clergy as well as Divinity School students and faculty.

The conference's sessions offered several angles on this process of change. Preachers and teachers described how they change minds, and how their minds have changed. Scholars looked at changing minds as a rhetorical enterprise. Participants had an opportunity to reflect on their own experiences of change.

The tentative schedule was:

9:30 AM: Registration

10:00 AM:

Panel: Changing Mind: A panel of clergy, faculty, and students, people reflecting on their own experiences, either in changing minds or having their minds changed.

• Trey Hall, Pastor, Urban Village Church
• Paul Mendes-Flor, Professor of Modern Jewish Thought
• David Newheiser, doctoral student in Theology
• Wesley Sun, Lilly Resident, Hyde Park Union Church  Remarks (pdf)

Moderated by Alda Balthrop-Lewis, Master of Divinity student

11:30 AM: “Robust Cultural Pluralism and Some Hazards of Moral Thinking”: Richard Shweder, William Claude Reavis Distinguished Service Professor of Human Development, University of Chicago Introduced byPhilippa Koch, doctoral student in History of Christianity

12:30 PM: Lunch

1:30 PM: “Rhetoric, Change and Religious Discourse”: Margaret Mitchell, Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature in the Divinity School, University of Chicago 
Introduced by Joshua Daniel, doctoral student in Theology

2:30 PM: “Experimental Change”: Stephanie A. Paulsell, Houghton Professor of the Practice of Ministry Studies, Harvard Divinity School  Remarks (pdf)
Introduced by Daniel Sack

4:00 PM: Closing reception

The conference was sponsored by the Border Crossing Project, an initiative at the Divinity School focusing on the relationship of the professions of teaching and ministry. The project is supported by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc.