Plenary #1: Living in the flows of media and religion

A case study with TVbyGirls sponsored by the Religious Education in Communities of Faith Forum.

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The leaders of TVbyGirls, based in Minneapolis, MN are passionate about the challenges youth face when they are exposed to over 1000 images each day. Believing that human beings are hard wired to experience images and stories in a deeply instinctive, emotional way, with images and the messages becoming a part of our subconscious identity, TVbyGirls has set out to help young women communicate a richer, more complicated representation of youth than is generally part of our commercial mediascape. Through leadership development and media education workshops, TVbyGirls explores the emotional vocabulary of images, and then uses that power to make media work that is more reflective of the thoughts, concerns and solutions of girls.

TVbyGirls will open our first plenary with excerpts from their new film Undercover. This is a collaboration in which Jewish girls, Muslim girls and girls from Christian traditions are working together to explore public perceptions and stereotypes experienced by Muslim girls and how this relates to their perceptions of the world and of media influence.

Parker, Mercer, and BishoffWe will be joined by some of the girls themselves to screen the film excerpts, and then Dr. Evelyn Parker, Dr. Joyce Mercer, and Claire Bischoff will lead us in a conversation exploring the promises and contradictions that this work opens up for religious educators.

Plenary #2: Presidential Address

Mary Hess

In the flow: Learning religion and religiously learning.

Mary E. Hess is President-elect of REA:APPRRE, and associate professor of educational leadership at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN. Her most recent book was co-edited with Stephen Brookfield, and is entitled Teaching Reflectively in Theological Contexts: Promises and Contradictions.

Plenary #3: Dr. Parker Palmer

An interview by Dr. Lynn Schofield Clark, Sponsored by the Religious Education in Public Life Forum, followed by audience Q&A.

Parker Palmer

A highly respected writer, lecturer, teacher and activist, Parker Palmer speaks deeply to people in many walks of life, including education, medicine, religion, law, philanthropy, the public sector, and social change. He is a senior advisor to the Fetzer Institute and founded the Center for Courage & Renewal, which oversees a “Courage to Teach” program for K-12 educators across the country with parallel programs for people in other professions who are looking for ways to reconnect who they are with what they do. Author of seven books, including the bestsellers The Courage to Teach (now in its tenth anniversary edition), Let Your Life Speak, and A Hidden Wholeness, his contribution has been recognized with ten honorary doctorates and a number of national awards. Named one of the “most influential senior leaders” in higher education, he holds a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. He is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) and lives with his wife, Sharon Palmer, in Madison, Wisconsin.

Lynn Schofield ClarkLynn Schofield Clark is Associate Professor and Director of the Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media at the University of Denver. She currently oversees three research projects: the Teens & The New Media @ Home Project, which explores the introduction of digital and mobile media into U.S. family life; the Young MediaMakers Project, which is studying how the process of media making contributes to citizenship and civic engagement; and the Global Students Online Project, which is studying the possibilities for enhanced intercultural understanding through online interactions. She is interested in sociology of culture and of the media, sociology of the family, and sociology of religion, as well as in issues related to the internationalization of journalism and communication in higher education.

Plenary #4: Lightning talks and “ask anything”

This year we’re trying something different, gleaned from what we’re learning from other academic guilds. Since members of REA:APPRRE have always listed “learning from colleagues” and “networking” as key goals, we’ve put together a plenary session – a time when nothing else is scheduled to compete with that session – where people can sign up (either now via the registration form, or on site depending on openings) for brief five minute talks. We’ll set up two microphones, and have specially oriented facilitators, so that no one person can use more than five minutes to describe to the gathered assembly something that you’re working on or puzzling over. This will be an opportunity to tell colleagues about your current research, to identify issues you think the guild should address, to share important information from the field, and so much more! Depending on how many people sign up, we may also have time to do a round of “ask anything” in which plenary participants can go to a microphone and ask (in three minutes or less) a question of the whole group. We’ll offer respondents two minutes or less to respond, and spread the questions over the whole group.

We are especially looking to encourage practitioners and new and emerging scholars to take advantage of this time, and looking for our senior scholars to contribute to the networking and mentoring.

Plenary #5: Possible futures for the field of religious education

Sponsored by the Religious Education in Academic Institutions Forum.

As proved so productive last year, this will be a combined session that begins with scholars making brief presentations from their specific locations about what they view as the promises and contradictions present in imagining the future of the field of religious education. After the initial round, we will then break up into smaller groups with one speaker per group and continue the discussions there.

We are blessed by having a large group of speakers who have agreed to participate on this panel:

Justus BairdRabbi Justus Baird, Director of the Center for Multifaith Education at Auburn Theological Seminary, New York, NY.

Elizabeth Conde-FrazierElizabeth Conde-Frazier, Academic Dean, Esperanza College, Philadelphia, PA.

Tito CruzFaustino M. Cruz, SM, PhD, Academic Dean and Executive Vice President, Associate Professor of Theology and Education, Franciscan School of Theology at the Graduate Theological Union.

Patricia O’Connell KillenPatricia O’Connell Killen, Professor of Religious Studies and Academic Vice President, Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA.

Prof. Dr. Mualla SelçukMualla Selçuk, Professor of Religious Education, Faculty of Divinity, Ankara University, Ankara, Turkey.

Plenary #6: Flowing forward into our shared future

We intend the focus of this final plenary to be both generative and forward-facing. It is at this session that we will be in discussion with each other — and with the specific “embedded listeners” we have invited — around questions of “flowing forward” into the future of the field of religious education. It is not possible, at this point, to specify entirely what that discussion will be (we want it to build on what has happened during the weekend) but we will seek to craft an opportunity for real dialogue, and for emerging action to take shape. Finally, we will close the meeting with approval of the budget for the coming year (which might, indeed, have been affected by these discussions), and the announcement of plans for Toronto.