This seminar is distinct from the year-long, on-campus JAF honors program. All students are invited to apply whether or not they have participated in the JAF program. The program is also open to adult learners, whether or not they are affiliated with Gordon College. Gordon students receive 4 credits for the Seminar by supplementing on-site study with two reading and writing components completed before and after the two weeks in Italy. These additional assignments locate the theme of the Seminar in the larger historical and religious contexts of medieval-Renaissance Europe.
Course information for JAF291 is listed below. | See JAF291 in the Undergraduate Academic Catalog.
The JAF291 Winter Seminar opens to a wider circle of students, alumni and adult learners the theme for which the Jerusalem and Athens Forum honors program is named: “What has Jerusalem to do with Athens, the Church with the Academy?” Posed by the early church father Tertullian in his defense of Christianity addressed to the pagans, this “enduring question,” as philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff titles an influential essay, “remains as much alive today as it was in 198 A.D. when Tertullian posed it.”
Each January this seminar will allow Tertullian’s question to frame an in situ (in the original context) study of one or more of the perennial topics addressed by classical and Christian thinkers and artists in the medieval/Renaissance/early modern period of European history.
The theme of the next JAF Winter Seminar is:
What is a Good Life? Explorations in Medieval and Renaissance Thought and Art
This JAF291 Seminar will take as its theme moral inquiry in the classical and Christian traditions, with a focus on their co-mingling in late medieval and early modern Europe (ca. 1300-1600). Students will have an opportunity to read various classical authors, particularly Aristotle and Cicero, and then later medieval/Renaissance authors such as Thomas Aquinas, Dante, Pico della Mirandola, and Erasmus. Some key questions that will be explored include (but are not limited to): What is a good life? What is a good society? What is virtue and how does one acquire it? What is vice and how can one avoid it? What is the relationship between the pursuit of virtue and the pursuit of salvation? What is the relationship between individual virtue and public/social responsibility? We shall also ask to what extent early-modern moral philosophy might still be relevant to church, society, and government today. In addition to readings and discussions, field trips will be taken within the city of Orvieto and to Rome, Siena, and Florence. Throughout, we shall attempt to make connections between the writings discussed and on-site art and architecture.
We are thrilled to announce that the instructor of the 2018 JAF Winter Seminar will be Dr. Tal Howard, former director of CFI and founder of the “Jerusalem & Athens Forum” and now professor of humanities and history at Valparaiso University, and holder of the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Christian Ethics.