Exploring what genuine community looks like as the world becomes increasingly virtual will be the focus of the eighth biennial Veritas Forum at Hope College, which will take place on Thursday-Sunday, Jan. 13-16.
Featuring a variety of presentations including three keynote addresses, two panel discussions and a concert, the forum will examine the topic "True Communities True Selves: Exploring True Community in a Virtual World."
Although the Veritas Forum has been planned for the campus community, the public is invited. Admission is free to all events except for the concert.
The mission overview for this year's forum notes: "Perhaps no other human longing is more powerful than our desire for true friendship and true community. While ever-changing technologies provide instant connection with others, we often suspect that connection and community are not the same thing ... What is required at this cultural moment in order to cultivate true communities and to interact authentically with others and in our increasingly virtual world?"
The forum will open on Thursday, Jan. 13, at 7 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel with a keynote address by Dr. Mark Husbands of the Hope faculty exploring the theological basis for thinking about identity, friendship and community: "Friendship, Knowledge and Love: What Emerging Adults Should Learn from Gandalf, Augustine, and Milosz." Husbands is the Leonard and Marjorie Maas Associate Professor of Reformed Theology at Hope.
Dr. Felicia Song will speak during the college's chapel service on Friday, Jan. 14, at 10:30 a.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. Song is a professor of mass communication at LouisianaStateUniversity.
The forum's second keynote address, "In the Image of Our Devices: How Technologies Shape Our Picture of Human Identity," will explore how metaphors of the digital world shape how people think about themselves and community, and will be presented on Friday, Jan. 14, at 7 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel by Ken Myers. Myers is president and executive producer of Charlottesville, Va.-based Mars Hill Audio.
A coffeehouse featuring Hope student contributions will follow the address at 8:30 p.m. in the Kletz on the ground level of the DeWittCenter.
The activities on Saturday, Jan. 15, will open at 10 a.m. in Winants Auditorium, Graves Hall with a keynote address by Song focused on what sociological data reveals about how digital culture affects community and friendship: "Web 2.0 and the Ironies of Being Connected."
A panel discussion on Saturday, Jan. 15, at 11 a.m. in Graves Hall will feature reflections on the forum themes by Husbands, Myers, Felicia Song and Dr. Edward Song, who is an assistant professor of philosophy and co-director of undergraduate studies at LouisianaStateUniversity. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. James Herrick, who is the Guy VanderJagt Professor of Communication at Hope.
A brown bag lunch on Saturday, Jan. 15, at noon in Graves Hall will feature the presentation of papers focused on the forum's theme by Hope and Western Theological Seminary students.
Welcome Wagon, with Hope students opening, will perform on Saturday, Jan. 15, at 8 p.m. at the Knickerbocker Theatre. New York City-based Welcome Wagon, a Gospel/indie pop band features the Rev. Vito Aiuto and his wife Monique. Their music is refreshingly plain, modest and melodic takes on a vast history of sacred song traditions, delivered with the simple desire to know their Maker - and to know each other - more intimately. Their first album was produced by 1998 Hope graduate Sufjan Stevens.
The opening performances for Welcome Wagon will be offered by Hope students in an 8 Minutes Max format. Eight different student groups will be allotted eight minutes each. Original compositions in song, dance, short film, and rock and jazz music will explore and engage this year's Veritas Forum theme.
Advance tickets for the concert are $8 for the general public and $5 for Hope students, and are available at the ticket office in the front lobby of the DeVos Fieldhouse. The ticket office is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and can be called at (616) 395-7890. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door at the Knickerbocker Theatre for $12 for the general public and $7 for Hope students.
The Veritas Forum will conclude with the college's weekly Sunday evening worship service, "The Gathering," on January 16 at 8 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel. Trygve Johnson, who is the Hinga-Boersma Dean of the Chapel at Hope, will preach.
In addition to the presentations, the Veritas Forum will feature a special edition of the college's "Opus" campus literary magazine that will include essays, poetry and visual artwork prepared by students and related in some way to the event's theme.
The DeVos Fieldhouse is located at 222 Fairbanks Ave., between Ninth and 11th streets. The DeWitt Center is located at 141 E. 12th St., facing Columbia Avenue at 12th Street. Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located at 277 College Ave., on College Avenue at 12th Street. Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., between 10th and 12th streets. The Knickerbocker Theatre is located in downtown Holland at 86 E. Eighth St.
The Veritas Forum began at HarvardUniversity in 1992 as a way to get students to think about what the school was founded upon: the Veritas, or truth, of Jesus Christ. Since then, dozens of campuses in the United States and abroad have emulated the Harvard model and held forums of their own.
The Hope Veritas Forum is designed to include the arts, ideas, theology and popular culture, so as to listen to how God works in the lives of writers, musicians, social activists, educators and artists. This forum has run every two years since its 1997 debut on campus.