Symposium -- September 19 & 20, 2024

Habits of Hope: Educational Practices for a Weary World

Symposium -- September 19 & 20, 2024

Habits of Hope: Educational Practices for a Weary World


Perhaps unbeknownst to one another, the editors of The Hedgehog Review and Plough offered their audience members beleaguered by a mix of COVID-19 and political fragmentation theme issues in 2022 titled, respectively, “Hope Itself” and “Hope in Apocalypse.”  When closing his editorial note for the fall issue, The Hedgehog Review’s Jay Tolson offered, “hope may be the most demanding virtue—and, in our time, the one in greatest need.”

As the title he selected suggests, Plough’s Peter Mommsen led his readers into a seemingly counter-instinctual space—one in which thoughts of the apocalypse and hope are not only related but even inextricable.  When closing his editorial note for the summer issue, Mommsen contended:

The resurrected Jesus – a flesh-and-blood person who in the Gospels eats a meal, breaks bread, and roasts fish at a lakeside campfire – is proof and pioneer of what humankind will be. . . . In the interim of the ages, as the universe’s great Sabbath approaches, humankind has work to do.  Plant the sapling; tend the earthworms; welcome the children given to you; hope.  The times may be troubled but beyond them, there’s a future to eagerly await.

However difficult to comprehend, the significance of Mommsen’s words concerning how to understand hope and live accordingly should prove compelling to all of us.  When it comes to the cultivation of the virtue of hope, our expectation of the end of time narrates how we live in the present.

While many possible observations that come from Mommsen’s words merit unpacking, two prove most noteworthy.  First, hope is inextricably tied to our anticipation of the world to come—a world inaugurated by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In essence, the character hope presently summons falls short of what God intends when disconnected from an expectation of the world to come.

Second, the character hope summons is not passive but active in nature.  “Humankind has work to do” and that work in the world at hand is given purpose and order when conducted in the light offered by the expectation of the world to come.

The purpose of the “Habits of Hope” symposium is to extend that theological logic concerning hope to the work humans called to the academic vocation do.  The disorientation plaguing individuals called to such a vocation was on the rise through the 2010s, with Covid-19 only exacerbating it.  While the pandemic has gratefully eased, that sense of disorientation is one from which educators have yet to recover.

In an effort to address the challenges facing individuals called to the Christian academic vocation, this symposium:

1) builds upon an understanding that an expectation of the world to come is the proper theological context in which to cultivate the virtue of hope in the world at hand;

2) establishes an understanding of the virtue of hope as being critical to how individuals understand their calling to the Christian academic vocation; and

3) details how specific educational practices (integration, conversation, experimentation, diversity, reading, writing, and teaching) are not only practices that continue to cultivate the virtue of hope within Christian educators but also within the myriad of internal and external constituents those educators are called to serve.

Click here to download Habits of Hope promotional poster.


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