Campus Life

Communitas integrates faith and learning

Are you looking for a way to display original work? Do you have a new idea or perspective that Grace should become aware of? Do you value the integration of faith and learning? Then welcome to Communitas.

Two years ago, a group of professors were brainstorming ways to better integrate faith and learning on Grace’s campus. Dr. Nate Bosch, Dr. Jared Burkholder, Dr. Mark Norris, Jacqueline Schram, J.D. Woods, and several other professors launched Communitas at Grace. A similar program had been implemented on Trinity College’s campus, where Dr. Bosch attended.

With the program only two years old, there is little visible impact on the Grace community; however, Woods said that the hopes for Communitas include “expanding students’ quest for scholarship in a specific field.”

Communitas was designed as a place where students could present research, scholarship, and creative displays to a greater community than just the classroom. Scholarship, as Dr. Burkholder says, is just an “output of what we do.” Communitas is a place to express who we are and what we are interested in, even if not explicitly Christian.

In order to present research at this event, a student’s work must contribute to a field of study, as well as contribute to the greater community at Grace. This type of research and scholarship is purposed to sustain and maintain a student’s curiosity for learning and digging deeper.

Finding out and probing is one of the most solid forms of obedience to Christ, according to Woods. Integrating Communitas and Day of Worship was intentional and emphasizes this belief.

Burkholder hopes to see more variety in topics and forms of presentation. This year, the number of papers increased, but art displaysdecreased. He hopes that, in coming years, dramas and performances will be added to the list of events. The directors of Communitas are open to anything engaging.

One example of this year’s work is a presentation by Laurie Fredericks. Fredericks presented research on connections between depression, especially in middle-aged women, and how dancing affected the condition. Not much research had been conducted in this specific area. Fredericks asked questions that piqued curiosity and raised some controversy on dancing and Christian morals.

Not only was research presented, but art was displayed as well. Jessica Taylor’s art display depicted her summer in Uganda last year with a watercolor, a few drawings, and several photographs. Her artistic inspiration over the last several months has stemmed from this experience; the people she lived with and talked with strongly impacted her. Her art is a reflection of the people and her experience – their depravity, joy, and community. 

Taylor says that the goal is not to raise awareness. “I want to move people. That is the goal in my art. How do you react to it? What does that stir in you? How does it inspire you? Because it has inspired me.”

Tenli Andersen’s art display depicted the current struggle in Mexico, a result of the drug trafficking problem. The colors and symbolism integrated into the four gauache paintings were strong and vibrant. As a missionary kid growing up in Mexico, Andersen has seen much of the distress firsthand.

All students are encouraged to submit proposals for papers and presentations at the beginning of each school year. Proposals are to be unique, interesting, creative, and fit well with the Grace culture. By the middle of the following February, students who are accepted into Communitas will be notified.

Communitas is a place to showcase individual abilities apart from the usual areas, such as drama or sports. It was designed for movement, growth, and community. This event is full of unusual, unique, and understated, yet outstanding, minds and hearts of fellow students.

Story by Rachel J. Miner | Staff Writer | minerrj@grace.edu
Photography by Cassie Gareiss | Photography Editor | gareiscm@grace.edu

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