2018 Day of Common Learning Breakout Sessions

Bicycle Commuting: Improving Personal and Global Well-Being -- One Revolution at a Time

Dan Keene, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Patrick McDonald, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Bertona 1

Using a bicycle for commuting to school, work, or errands (even if just short distances) can improve physical and mental fitness, reduce problems with parking/traffic congestion, and lower carbon emissions.  In our workshop we (a) review a little research evidence regarding the benefits of bicycle commuting across these intersecting systems, (b) share tips for commuting safely and comfortably, and (c) suggest how cycling can be good for the soul.  Planning for a robust Q&A across topics ranging from flat tires to helmet hair, we invite those who are new to commuting as well as seasoned commuters; we can learn from each other.


Business and Sustainable Development Goals: Student Presentations
Kim Sawers, Professor of Accounting
McKenna 111
Do you ever feel that business is at odds with sustainability goals? While there is enough evidence in the news that suggests this might be the case, we want to explore ways in which business can actually further the achievement of the sustainability efforts. In this break-out session, SBGE students will examine how businesses have or could contribute to the advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Students will present information about the SDGs, explore how faith might inform our involvement with the SDGs and discuss some actions business have or could take to positively contribute to advancing the SDGs.


Caring for Creation by Preparing the Next Generation Well
Julie Antilla, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership
Minhee Lee, Assistant Professor of Chemistry
McKenna 117
Your understanding of environmental stewardship and of creation was influenced by your K-12 teachers and college professors. The quality of your instructors’ knowledge and their effectiveness in teaching science, technology, engineering, and math impacted your view of the environment and your role in caring for it. There is much that we at SPU can do to prepare the next generation to be good stewards of God’s created work. The National Science Foundation has recognized Washington State for designing an interagency collaboration to support universities in preparing STEM educators, and SPU is one of five universities to be endowed with a multi-year grant to do so. Come and find out how we can support SPU faculty and courses in the College of Arts and Sciences as well as in the School of Education to enrich STEM learning for all current students, especially for future teachers who will shape the next generation.


Caring for God’s Creation:  Singing Along the Way
Nickerson Studios 103
Rev. Julie Kae Sigars, Instructor of Voice
Cherie Hughes, Assistant Professor of Music
Dainius Vaicekonis, Assistant Professor of Piano
Stephen Michael Newby, Professor of Music

As hopeful people of God, this session will offer songs, hymns, and psalms that sustain and challenge us to be faithful stewards in the midst of environmental crisis. Loosely based on a Daily Prayer format, we will have prayers, silence, scripture, and singing as a community response to Dr. Swoboda’s message.

Creation Care and Christian Voices on Climate Change
Ryan Ferrer, Associate Professor of Biology
Eaton 112
An overwhelming majority of scientists agree that human activity is causing a change in global climate.  The consensus on this topic varies widely, however, across Christian groups, with many unconvinced by the scientific evidence.  What factors might contribute to this divide? Why might Christians be called to take note and take action? And what does Creation care look like with respect to climate change?

Ecological Impacts of Homelessness

Niki Amarantides, Director, Center for Learning
Karen Snedker, Associate Professor of Sociology
Library Seminar Room
Homelessness is visible all over Seattle. City government is wrestling with this growing problem, but there is still not enough affordable housing. People are living on the streets, under bridges, in shelters, tents, tiny villages and in their cars. We, along with invited guests from the Low Income Housing Institute and the City of Seattle, will explore the environmental and human ecological impact of homelessness in our city.

Environmentalism & Capitalism

Paul Yost, Associate Professor of Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Matt Magill, Doctoral Candidate in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Research Consultant at Best Christian Workplaces Institute

McKenna 118

Our economy is built on the natural resources we extract, develop, and exchange. But how do economic goals to provide jobs, health, and housing for all stack up alongside goals of environmental sustainability? Both are important. When do business and environmental goals support each other? When are they in tension and competition? When and how should we decide which should be prioritized over the other? This session and discussion will explore big questions related to our economic system and our call to stewardship of the natural world and God's creation.


Evangelicals and the Environment: Sticking Points, and Ways Forward
Joshua Tom, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Jennifer McKinney, Professor of Sociology
Bertona 6
This session will discuss the major social scientific understandings of the relationship between American Evangelicals and environmental issues. While a recent body of literature notes a growing acceptance of environmentalism by Evangelicalism, typically couched in the language of “Creation Care” and environmental stewardship, Evangelicals as a group have maintained a staunch oppositional attitude towards most pro-environmental issues for the past thirty years. We will consider some of the primary reasons for this, including the calcification of the Evangelical-Republican political coalition, the Evangelical suspicion of scientists, and the effect of popular end-times theology that predicts an imminent Second Coming. We will also discuss how it may be possible to move past these obstacles and the role that institutions like SPU might play in making this happen.


From Great Walls to Mega Cities: Environmental Sustainability in China
Brad Murg, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Zhiguo Ye, Assistant Professor of History
Bertona 3
This session is to explore China’s historical and present obsessions with infrastructural building, ancient and current strategies to build to last, and how the history from the last few millennia continues to shape its present and rapid urban modernization. Dr. Murg, Dr. Ye and students who are just back from their China study abroad trip will share their experiences, observations and thoughts on these issues through video presentation and panel-style discussion.


Good Stewardship of Your Closet
Raedene Copeland, Associate Professor of Apparel Design and Merchandising
Sarah Mosher, Adjunct Professor for Family and Consumer Science
Bertona 4
How what you wear has a surprisingly profound impact on many areas of God’s creation and what you as a college student can do to make a positive difference. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world after the fossil fuel industry. Educate yourself on the nuances of how clothing choices can make a better world for the environment and for those who live in it.

How to Analyze Environmental Issues to Promote Dialogue, Reconciliation, and Better Solutions.
Johnny Lin, University of Washington Bothell Senior Lecturer, School of STEM
Cremona 203

Environmental issues appear deceptively simple: science tells us what the problems are and how to solve them, and, for Christians, the Bible motivates us to care for creation.  And yet, both in society in general as well as in the Christian church in particular, we cannot seem to agree on what to do regarding environmental issues. In this workshop, I set forth a general taxonomy, drawing from worldviews, ethical theories, science epistemology, science-policy studies, politics, and economics to help us better understand what excellent creation care consists of.

Through discussion using this taxonomy and role-play following models from science-policy studies, we will explore ways to bridge the differences people have regarding environmental issues.


Living Fully with a Low-Carbon Footprint
Daniela Gheleva, Associate Professor of Food and Nutrition
Lane Seeley, Professor of Physics
Cremona 101
The average American produces approximately 4 to 5 times as much carbon dioxide as the average global citizen, yet people around the world aspire to live the American lifestyle. How can we rise to the challenge of climate change and serve as a model for sustainable prosperity? In this session we will take an honest, quantitative look at our own consumption. We will see how our carbon footprints are deeply woven into the very fabric of our culture. We will explore both the utility and the limitations of common strategies for sustainable living such as vegan diets, buying locally, carbon offsets, as well as using “green” products and electric vehicles. We will then share ideas for living full and prosperous lives while dramatically reducing our carbon consumption, with emphasis on ways to create low-carbon and nutritious meals.


Staying Motivated in Caring for Creation
Rev Lynne Baab, PhD, www.lynnebaab.com
Bertona 2
In recent years I’ve become overwhelmed about caring for God’s beautiful creation. Can one person really make a difference? How should I respond to people who are convinced that what they do is the most important thing to do? Vegan diets, riding a bicycle or bussing all the time, refusing to use any plastic – I simply can’t do it all, so I get discouraged. I’ve started interviews for a book on how to stay motivated in caring for this amazing earth that God created. I’ve interviewed more than a dozen Christians who are deeply engaged in creation care, asking them what keeps them going strong. They have talked about a variety of theological and practical perspectives, as well as biblical passages, that motivate them. In the seminar, I’ll summarize the motivations I’ve heard about in the interviews, and give a glimpse into the various practices my interviewees engage in.


A Theological Foundation for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Randy Beavers, Assistant Professor of Finance
Cremona 202
The group will discuss Michael Cafferky’s 2015 journal article discussing how Sabbath plays a role in sustainable development. Topics will include introducing the SDGs, creation and covenant, how Sabbath is the center of sustainable development, current issues surrounding the world today around sustainable development, a comparison of each of the 17 SDGs to Christian values, and concerns moving forward how to achieve the SDGs from a Christian perspective.

Treebeard and Totoro: The Cry of Creation in Contemporary Cinema

Jeffrey Overstreet, Assistant Professor of Writing
Demaray 150

Most filmmakers use nature as nothing more than an incidental backdrop. But some, through innovative cinematography and whimsical animation, have enough wisdom to know that the natural world is as active as any human character in speaking about what is right and what is wrong with the world. Going a step farther, some suggest that creation wants us to redefine our idea of narrative and restore our understanding of the environment as a sanctuary for reverence and worship rather than as a resource to exploit. Join us as we consider how strategies and scenes from films like The Lord of the Rings, My Neighbor Totoro, The Secret of Kells, Annihilation, and The Tree of Life declare that beauty can save the world.


What’s Lament Got to Do With It?: What J35 Can Teach the American Church
Shannon Smythe, Assistant Professor of Theological Studies
Cremona 201
The unprecedented show of mourning exhibited by J35 as she carried her dead calf off the Pacific Northwest coast this summer serves as an important reminder to Christians. For while the push to fix the environmental exploitation and ecological devastation facing our world is critical, we also need to lament, mourn, and grieve first to fully experience and understand what has taken place. Christian scripture teaches us that we can’t move toward transformation, sustainability, or reconciliation without going through sorrow, mourning, regret, and lament. This session will both highlight the role Christianity has played in the devastation and colonization of indigenous peoples and lands as well as provide a 9-element model from the lament psalms for both individual and corporate lament. Examples of lament prayers will be provided. Participants will also have an opportunity to write a group lament over environmental exploitation and ecological devastation.


Why Care?  Biblical and Ecological Motivations for Creation Care
Michael Langford, Associate Professor of Theology, Discipleship, and Ministry
Eric Long, Professor of Biology
Cremona 102
Air pollution, ocean acidification, global warming, species extinctions, deforestation, water shortages.  News headlines feature these on a seemingly daily basis.  But, the problems may seem too big to do anything about.  Or, they’re too far away.  Or, maybe you just have bigger fish to fry, like working on global poverty or local homelessness.  Or, there are more pressing deadlines, like that term paper due tomorrow. Maybe you should just let the hippies and eco-freaks deal with the environmental stuff? In this breakout session, we (a theologian and an ecologist) will lay out a number of Biblical and scientific reasons why Creation Care should not just be left to someone else.  From the selfish and practical (healthy forests literally make the air you breathe and clean the water your drink) to the devout (caring for creation brings glory to God), we will explore theologically and ecologically informed motivations for environmental justice.