Undergraduate Programs

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.

2017–2018 Campus Theme: What Is Good?

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.

Living the Unconventional Life

March 20, 7:00 pm — Hamming Hall

Stephanie Elizondo Griest is the author of the award-winning memoirs Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana (Villard/Random House, 2004), Mexican Enough: My Life Between the Borderlines (Washington Square Press/Simon & Schuster, 2008), and the guidebook 100 Places Every Woman Should Go (Travelers’ Tales, 2007). She won the 2007 Richard J. Margolis Award for Social Justice Reporting and edited Best Women’s Travel Writing (Travelers’ Tales, 2010). UNC Press published her latest book, All the Agents & Saints: Dispatches from the U.S. Borderlands, in July 2017.

A dedicated teacher, Griest is an Assistant Professor and Margaret Shuping Fellow of Creative Nonfiction at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. As a journalist, Griest was a political reporter at the Austin bureau of the Associated Press and has edited and taught journalism at China Daily while serving as a Henry Luce Scholar in Beijing.

Griest’s foremost love is the open road, and her wanderlust has taken her to 48 countries, including Lithuania, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Egypt, and Venezuela. She has also traveled to 49 of the United States. From 2006 to 2009, she lived nomadically, with her belongings stuffed in her backpack(s). Her toughest journey, however, was a four-month battle with cancer in 2017; happily, she is now in remission.

Good Art and Ugly Art, Ugly Art and Christian Art

September 27, 7:00 pm

Mark W. Roche is Joyce Professor of German and Concurrent Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, where he served as dean from 1997 to 2008. He has published on German literature and on philosophy, film, and higher education. Among his books are Why Choose the Liberal Arts?, which received the Ness Book Award from the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and Why Literature Matters in the 21st Century, which was chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice Magazine. In 2013 he received the Joyce Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and in 2006 the Kaneb Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Past Themes

2016-2017 Events

Beauty, Identity, and Social Change

February 10, 10:30 am

Dr. Reggie Williams, Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics, McCormick Seminary

Dr. Williams will be speaking about how the revolution in conventions of beauty were integral to the social changes that occurred in the Harlem Renaissance.


Beauty in Diversity Concert

February 11, 7:30 pm

Grammy-nominated gospel artist Jonathan McReynolds headlines this concert in Anderson Chapel, which is sponsored by the Office of Diversity. Poet Jackie Perry will be also be performing along with other artists and musicians from across Chicago.



Origami Artist Robert J. Lang

March 3, 10:30 am

Robert J. Lang has been an avid student of origami for over 40 years and is now recognized as one of the world’s leading masters of the art, with over 500 designs catalogued and diagrammed. He is noted for designs of great detail and realism, and includes in his repertoire some of the most complex origami designs ever created. Mr. Lang will give a talk in Anderson Chapel at 10:30 am as well as two classroom visits.

Beauties Sacred and Secular: Aretha Franklin and Gospel Music

April 5, 10:30 am

Aaron Cohen, author of Amazing Grace, a book exploring the making of Aretha Franklin’s double platinum 1972 gospel album Amazing Grace–the best selling gospel album of all time.

This event will include a brief Gospel Choir concert.


Beauty and the Good Life

Dr. Gabriel Richardson Lear, Chair of University of Chicago Philosophy Department






The Beauty of Mathematics and Poetry

September 20, 6:30–7:30 pm
Olsson Lounge – Nyvall Hall
Mark Tardi (in conjunction with the Humanities Meet & Greet dinner).

Poet and translator Mark Tardi grew up in Chicago, Illinois and earned his MFA in creative writing from Brown University. His collections of poetry include the chapbooks Part First—Chopin’s Feet (2005) and Airport Music (2005), as well as the full length collections Euclid Shudders (2003) and Airport Music (2013). Tardi’s Polish heritage led him to an early interest in Polish poetry, and he was a 2008–2009 Fulbright Senior Lecturer in American Literature and Culture at the University of Lódz, Poland. He has translated work from Polish and, as an editor of the journal Aufgabe, devoted an issue in 2010 to Polish poetry and poetics.


Artists’ Panel On Beauty

September 23, 3:00–5:00 pm
Brandel Library, 2nd Floor

Karl Clifton-Soderstrom will moderate a panel of artists as a part of the Alumni Art show. Artists include Kate McCandless, Maya Durham, Rebekah Putera, Elizabeth Rice, and Daniel Warren Johnson.




The Beautiful City

October 14, 10:30 am
Anderson Chapel

Natalie Y. Moore, author of North Park’s Common Read book The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation.




Beauty Conventions — Art Gallery Installation

November 4 
Carlson Tower Art Gallery
Lois Bielefeld
Other artists TBA

Artists in this show will use conventions of beauty in the medium of photography and film to overtly reference socials norms as well as challenge them and make them appear strange.