Campus Theme

The Compelling Questions We All Face

The Campus Theme program facilitates and coordinates a host of events, lectures, and discussions centered around an enduring and ultimate question of human experience—a fresh question each academic year. Events are open to the general public.

2015–2016 Campus Theme: What Is Truth?

Unless otherwise noted, all Campus Theme events will be held in Anderson Chapel on North Park's Chicago campus. Get directions to our campus or download a campus map.

Elaine Howard Ecklund

"The Truths of Science and/or Religion: What do Scientists Really Believe?"
with Dr. Elaine Howard Ecklund and Dr. Yoojin Choi

Tuesday, April 26, 3:30 pm

It is often assumed that the longstanding antagonism between science and religion is irreconcilable. And in the wake of recent controversies over teaching intelligent design and the ethics of stem-cell research, the divide seems as unbridgeable as ever. But why? Come here one of our national experts on the relationship between science and religion as it is actually lived out by top scientists in our country. Dr. Elaine Howard Ecklund reveals how scientists-believers and skeptics alike-are struggling to engage the increasing number of religious students in their classrooms and argues that many scientists are searching for "boundary pioneers" to cross the picket lines separating science and religion. Come join the conversation.

Elaine Howard Ecklund is the Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences, Professor of Sociology, and director of The Religion and Public Life Program at Rice University, where she is also a Rice Scholar at the Baker Institute for Public Policy. Over the next several years, Elaine’s research will explore how scientists in several national and regional contexts understand religion, ethics, and gender. To that end, Ecklund launched the Network for the Social Scientific Study of Science and Religion(N4SR) in 2011. Elaine is the author of two books with Oxford University Press, more than 40 peer-reviewed research articles, and numerous op-eds. Her latest book, Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think, was chosen by Times Higher Education as an international book of the week and named a book of the year on religion by The Huffington Post.
She received a Ph.D. in 2004 from Cornell University, where she was the recipient of the Class of 2004 Graduate Student Baccalaureate Award for Academic Excellence and Community Service.

Dr. Yoojin Choi will also be giving a brief response to Dr. Howard Ecklund’s lecture. Dr. Choi is an Associate Professor of Biology here at North Park University. Dr. Yoojin Jang Choi chose to teach at North Park for its Christian values, vision in STEM growth, and commitment to serving diverse communities. As a biologist who incorporates her Christian faith into her professional life, Dr. Choi is aware of the difficult questions society poses to someone like her. “I believe in God’s creation and sovereignty over the universe. I do try to keep an open mind and encourage my students to do the same regarding questions about the mechanisms of the origin of life, relationship between science and faith, and the wonders of the living world,” she says.

Past Events

David Gushee

"Evangelicals Seeking Truth: Opening Up or Hunkering Down?"
with Dr. David Gushee

Thursday, April 14, 3:30 pm

Evangelicals still believe in "Capital T" Truth and seek it earnestly. But we never stop arguing about how we find truth, who has the authority to declare truth or error, and how to delineate Christian truth from secular falsehood. And at this particular cultural moment many evangelicals seem mainly to be operating out of fear, and anger, at unwelcome cultural understandings of truth. Can we open up without compromising? Can we hunker down without shutting out God's Spirit?

Rev. Dr. David P. Gushee is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. One of the leading moral voices in American Christianity, he is the author or editor of 21 books, including Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust, Kingdom Ethics (with a new second edition coming out in June 2016), The Sacredness of Human Life, Changing Our Mind, and Evangelical Ethics. His next book, aiming to help Christians think about American public life, is called Letter to My Anxious Christian Friends. It will be out in fall 2016. Dr. Gushee is the recently elected vice president of the American Academy of Religion and president elect of the Society of Christian Ethics. He blogs twice weekly at Religion News Service, and serves on the boards of Sojourners and the Center for Victims of Torture. He has lectured on six continents. Professor Gushee, a husband, dad, and grandfather, lives in Atlanta with his family.

Garrett Kiely

"The University Press and the Pursuit of Truth"
with Garrett P. Kiely

Tuesday, April 5, 7:00 pm | Hamming Hall

Garrett P. Kiely is director of University of Chicago Press, the second oldest continuously operating university press in the United States and the nation’s current largest academic publisher. "Kiely has distinguished himself as someone who remains committed to the historic purposes of the university press and successfully addresses the challenges that face university presses in the twenty-first century,” said Dr. John Laukaitis, assistant professor of education.

Dr. Laukaitis will begin the event with a history of the university press. "The university press arose from the minds of those re-envisioning American higher education in the late nineteenth century. They were individuals dedicated to the advancement of truth, and the university press became an integral part of that endeavor,” he said.

Kiely will then speak to how technology, especially open access and digital distribution, has changed the landscape of the university press and how the University of Chicago Press has remained dedicated to disseminating the highest-quality published research. “The future,” Kiely told BookBusiness in an interview, “lies in leveraging the strength of the [University of Chicago Press’s] relationship with the academic community, both at the University of Chicago and elsewhere, to build on its status as a key driver of intellectual and technological trends, all while becoming ever more secure financially.”

To end the evening, North Park faculty whose books have been published through university presses will share their particular experiences with university presses and how they were able to advance knowledge in their respective areas of research. Faculty participants will include Dr. Susan Rabe, professor of history, Dr. Brad Nassif, professor of biblical and theological studies, Dr. Theodore Zervas, associate professor of education, Dr. Linda Craft, professor of Spanish, Dr. Michael Emerson, provost and professor of sociology and urban studies, and Dr. Laukaitis.

Juan Felipe Herrera

United States Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera

November 12-13

Juan Felipe Herrera is the 21st Poet Laureate of the United State (2015-2016) and is the first Latino to hold the position. From 2012 to 2014, Herrera served as California State Poet Laureate. Herrera’s many collections of poetry include Notes on the Assemblage; Senegal Taxi; Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems, a recipient of the PEN/Beyond Margins Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross The Border: Undocuments 1971–2007. He is also the author of Crashboomlove: A Novel in Verse, which received the Americas Award. His books of prose for children include: SkateFate, Calling The Doves, which won the Ezra Jack Keats Award; Upside Down Boy, which was adapted into a musical for young audiences in New York City; and Cinnamon Girl: Letters Found Inside a Cereal Box. Herrera is also a performance artist and activist on behalf of migrant and indigenous communities and at-risk youth.

Herrera joins North park University and our Campus Theme program for a two-day engagement in November. Along with private student events, the following are offered free to the community and open to the public.

Thursday, November 12

7:00 pm, Isaacson Chapel (Nyvall Hall)
Join Herrera for a poetry reading, book signing, and question and answer session.

Friday, November 13: Truth Telling and the Role of the Artist in Society

10:30 am, Anderson Chapel

Poet, artist, and activist Juan Felipe Herrera will address the role of the artist in speaking the hidden and difficult truths in society. Through creativity and empathy, Herrera helps us hear the cries of those suffering injustice and the songs of those celebrating life. He makes these truths visible through stories, not statistics, and by imagination, not ideologies. As the son of Mexican migrant workers, and the first Latino poet laureate in our nation’s history, Juan Felipe Herrera has spent a lifetime doing the work of intercultural dialogue through the work of the artistic creation. His work challenges us to do the same.

Gerardo Cardenas

Truth as Strange as Fiction: Lessons from Our Lady of the Viaduct

Friday, October 9

Author Gerardo Cárdenas will join us on campus to discuss his work, Our Lady of the Viaduct, this year's North Park Common Read. "As a writer, I want to point out that truth is elusive, changing, and ambiguous depending on your vantage point, your background, your ideology, your faith, your interests, etc.," Cárdenas says. "Where does that leave the reader?"

Gerardo Cárdenas is a Mexico City-born writer and journalist. He lived in Mexico City, Miami, Washington, D.C., Brussels and Madrid before settling down in the Chicago area in 1989. He currently is the editorial director for contratiempo, the only Spanish-language cultural and literary magazine in the Midwest. His poems, short stories, and articles have been published in print and electronic media outlets, as well as anthologies in Mexico, the United States, Spain, Venezuela, Chile, and the Dominican Republic. He won the Premio Interamericano Carlos Montemayor 2013 and has twice won the John Barry Spanish Short Fiction Award (2004, 2007). In 2011 he published A veces llovia en Chicago (Vocesueltas/Magenta), a collection of short fiction. A second short fiction book and a first book of poetry are soon to be published. Gerardo also publishes the weekly literary blog En la Ciudad de los Vientos.

Related Events

Regarding Truth portraits

Regarding Truth in Portraiture and Painting: A Conversation with Catherine Prescott and Tim Lowly

Thursday, September 17

In a discussion led by Dr. John Laukaitis, artists Catherine Prescott and Tim Lowly reflect on the idea of truth in relation to art, with a focus on their recent work.

Catherine Prescott's exhibition person: recent intimate portraits was featured in the Carlson Tower Gallery through Friday, September 18. Tim Lowly's exhibition re. Rainbow Girl was in the Fine Arts Center Gallery of Northeastern Illinois University through Friday, September 18.

This event is presented in conjunction with the University's Campus Theme committee and the new North Park University Creative Guild.