Lexi Schnaser—Staff Writer
On Monday, Sept. 6th, the B.J. Haan found itself host to the first of the Andreas Center’s First Mondays speakers for the academic year. Dordt University’s own professor of social work, Dr. Abby Foreman, gave a message of finding hope and civility amidst differences.
The First Mondays Speaker Series offers presentations on the First Mondays of each month, aiming to bring “thinkers, writers, and cultural leaders to Dordt to discuss with the campus and broader community ideas that will stretch our imaginations, grow our understanding, and help us re-form our world in God-honoring ways,” according to Dordt University’s website. There will be two more First Mondays presentations this semester: Dr. Jennifer Powell McNutt on Sept. 27 and Andrew Peterson on Nov. 1.
Foreman addressed various types of differences a community may engage in — differences between individual people groups, confessional differences, unique cultures and contexts, and structural differences. Some differences can be positive, like ones that happen through structural pluralism allowing for different associations, institutions, and societal structures in communities. Other times differences may be harder to overcome, yet Christians are still called to love well in the public sphere.
For those who could not attend the First Mondays presentation, Foreman sends the message to simply love one’s neighbor.
“You know, we’re called to love each other well. [In] Galatians 5 Paul says, to be free in Christ is to then use that freedom to serve others. Then thinking about how we can do that in our organizations, in the ways in which we behave in our communities, how are we fair? How are we respecting other people, how are we accounting for their needs, how are we allowing them to be a part of conversation and really opening up to be good neighbors, even when you have valid differences. As Christians, we have a real responsibility to pay attention to how we’re loving others.”
First Mondays presentations have been a required attendance for CORE-100 students, and they will be joined this year by CORE-399 students.
“Starting two summers ago we were already having conversations about CORE-399 and [advanced reformed thought] classes,” Dr. Jeff Ploegstra, director of the Core program, said. “How those fit together, and whether those are supposed to be interdisciplinary or trans disciplinary or post-disciplinary.”
“One of the things we decided was a big value to incorporate in CORE-399 was actually having people from diverse disciplines interacting.”
In laypeople’s terms, the goal of CORE-399 is to take everything students have learned throughout their time at Dordt and help students understand how their field of study can relate to greater cultural concerns in post-Dordt life.
“The First Mondays Speaker Series really exists to bring preeminent people who are recognized as careful and influential thinkers on a topic that’s relevant right now right to our campus and give our students in our community a chance to interact with them,” Ploegstra said.
“They are people who are acutely aware of the issues at play, and I think that it’s a great resource for not only our students but also for community members and faculty.”
Students in CORE-399 are expected to attend and respond to the First Mondays presentations each month, as well as participate in Q & A panels with Dordt faculty in the following weeks. The faculty will be professors from varying disciplines who, in their own studies, have interacted with the issue the presenter discussed.
Through the First Mondays Speaker Series, students of all ages, disciplines, and interests can interact with prominent thinkers and faculty in various fields. Foreman’s call — and, more broadly, Dordt’s call — to make space for others with differences in local communities is an age-old one that each member of Dordt’s community can live out in their own unique ways.