“Influence, Faith And Reason” Symposium To Take Place At Lee Oct. 7-8

  • Friday, September 23, 2022
  • EllieAnn McDonald, Lee University
Dr. W. Bradford Wilcox
Dr. W. Bradford Wilcox

Lee University will host “Influence, Faith, and Reason: People of Faith in the Liberal Arts, as Public Intellectuals,” a two-day symposium on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 7-8. The event will be held in the Science and Math Complex on Lee’s campus.

For one weekend each fall, Christian scholars and administrators gather at the symposium to explore a single “big idea,” according to Dr. Jason Ward, associate professor of history at Lee. While the specific topic changes from year to year, the framework for exploration, liberal arts consciousness formed in a church-related context, has remained constant. This meeting began under the direction of Dr. Ronald A. Wells in 2007 at Maryville College, and the tradition of the Maryville Symposium has continued at Lee University since 2016.

Four plenary speakers will present talks during the symposium, and each has a responder who will open the discussion of the presentation with some comments, allowing participants to spend a weekend using focused, critical thinking in a group setting.

Dr. W. Bradford Wilcox, professor of sociology and director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, is this year’s keynote speaker. As an undergraduate, Dr. Wilcox was a Jefferson Scholar at the University of Virginia and later earned his PhD from Princeton University. His research explores the contribution that families make to the economic welfare of individuals and societies. Wilcox’s research has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Slate, National Review Online, NPR, NBC’s “The Today Show,” and many other media outlets.

“We are excited to have Dr. Wilcox here, as this year’s theme focuses on public intellectuals, and he is an important example of what that might look like for a Christian liberal arts thinker,” said Dr. Ward. “Our other speakers will offer insights from different facets of the idea of a public intellectual so that we can think together this year about whether and how we should engage the public with our expertise, as well as how we prepare students to do the same.”

The other plenary speakers include Susan Fletcher, director of history and archives at the Navigators; Jay Green, professor of history at Covenant College and managing editor of the online journal Current; and Dr. Randy Wood, chair of the Department of History, Political Science & Humanities at Lee. They will each host sessions that further discussions on faith and liberal arts.

This year’s responders include Lee professors Dr. Debra Gladden, professor of mathematics; Dr. Heather Quagliana, chair of the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences; and Rondall Reynoso, assistant professor of art; along with Coral Norwood, director of Courtyard Classical Academy.

“I was sad to cancel this event the past two years due to COVID-19 and am eager to return to our annual gatherings,” said Dr. Ward. “This event’s chief value is in the conversation responding to what speakers have presented, which continues over meals and across the event. That kind of discussion is very hard to replicate via online connections.”

Registration is open now, and the fee is $75, which covers attendance as well as dinner on Friday and lunch on Saturday.

For more information or to register, visit https://sites.google.com/site/leesymposium/home.

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