Twenty-seventh Annual National Conference
Discernment, Engagement, Reflection
Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California
October 27-29, 2017
The 27th National Conference, Discernment, Engagement, Reflection, took place on October 27 through 27 at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. Drawing on the work of writers from across the spectrum of Christian higher education, the conference focused on the ways in which the education of the whole person can be addressed through a focus on the head, the heart, and the hands.
For several decades, educational theorists from both within and outside the spectrum of Christian higher education have stressed the importance of moving beyond the notion of education as a content delivery system. How can discernment — within and beyond Ignatian spiritual practices — provide an invitation to deeper questioning, deeper searching?
"The opposite of contemplation is not action — it is reaction" (Richard Rohr). Indeed, the relationship between contemplation and action is symbiotic and especially relevant to twenty-first century education. How can engagement (related to the Ignatian magis) enable students to experience this deepening — locally, globally, and from within? How might technology, which is sometimes blamed for what Adolfo Nicolás has termed "the globalization of superficiality," become an instrument in making the process of engagement more authentic?
If contemplation and action are truly complementary, the final step would involve the return to the quiet. How can reflection allow students to feel more connected to the educational missions of their own universities and more attentive to the spiritual directions of their own lives?
The conference began with a plenary address by Dr. Stephanie Paulsell, the Susan Shallcross Swartz Professor of the Practice of Christian Studies at Harvard Divinity School, entitled, “A ‘whole made of shivering fragments’: Contemplation, Creativity, and Education.” On Saturday, conferees heard a second plenary conversation between Dr. Douglas Christie and Dr. Rubén Martínez, both at Loyola Marymount University, on “Mystics, Migrants: Desert Practices in an Age of Exile. Drs. Christie and Martínez were joined by Dr. Paulsell for a third session that explored the pedagogical implications of the first two plenary sessions. Dr. Herbert A. Medina and Dr. Paul Humphreys, both also of Loyola Marymount University, led conferees on a contemplative walk and contemplative listening exercise respectively. Conferees were also treated to the Loyola Marymount university Gospel Choir under the direction of Dr. Diane White-Clayton.