“Reconciliation: Hope in a Divided World” is the theme of the 2012 Critical Issues Symposium at Hope College, which will begin with a keynote address Tuesday evening, Sept. 25, and continue throughout the day on Wednesday, Sept. 26, featuring a variety of presentations across campus.

The public is invited to all of the events.  Admission is free.

“We live in an increasingly fragile world. A world where hunger, political strife, poverty, broken relationships and fear paralyze heart and spirit. One could ask, ‘Is this the best we can be? In the face of impending calamity do we sit idly and accept the situation as it is?,’” said Alfredo Gonzales, who is associate provost and dean for international and multicultural education, and is co-chair of the event’s planning committee. “We on the Planning Committee for this year’s Critical Issues Symposium sincerely believe that there is a better solution to these fracturing problems. And that answer is in reconciliation.”

“In this year’s Critical Issues Symposium we want to challenge the Hope community (and each other) to step energetically into this vision of hope as together we grapple with the challenging topic of reconciliation,” he said.

This year’s symposium will feature two keynote addresses; two blocks of concurrent panel presentations or focus sessions; and several department-sponsored sessions.

The symposium events open on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel with the keynote address “Reconciliation: Why It Matters and How to Do It Well” by Miroslav Volf, who is the founder and director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture and the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale University Divinity School in New Haven, Conn.

The symposium will continue on Wednesday, Sept. 26, beginning at 9 a.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel with the keynote address “Reconciliation: How Teachings from a 2,000-Year-Old Book Can Bring Healing to a 500-Year-Old Wound” by Mark Charles, who is a speaker, writer and consultant from Fort Defiance, Ariz., located on the Navajo Reservation.

Both keynote events will also include music by visiting artist Gillian Grannum, who is a bassist, pianist, songwriter and singer, performing with members of the Hope jazz faculty.

The morning sessions on Wednesday, Sept. 26, will begin at 10:30 a.m. Activities will include a focus session with Volf in the DeWitt Center main theatre, and a panel discussion in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.  The panel discussion will include Peter Cha, who is an associate professor of pastoral theology with Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Charles; Grannum; and Daniel Philpott, who is an associate professor of political science and peace studies at the Kroc Center for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.  The panel will be moderated by Charlotte vanOyen-Witvliet, who is the John H. and Jeanne M. Jacobson Professor of Psychology at Hope.

The afternoon focus sessions on Wednesday, Sept. 26, will begin at 1 p.m.  The topics will include “Contested Memory, Contested Narratives: The Dynamics of Reconciliation in Post(?)-Conflict Societies” (Sierra Leone, Kenya, Rwanda, Northern Ireland); “Multicultural Education for Reconciliation: Assessing Different Models”; “Resolution and Reunion: Jazz, Faith, and Reconciliation”; and “Is Reconciliation in Politics Possible? On the Meaning of Justice in the Wake of Massive Injustice.”  The speakers will include Virginia Beard, assistant professor of political science at Hope; Cha; Charles; Ernest Cole, who is an assistant professor of English and Towsley Research Scholar at Hope; Grannum; Philpott; and vanOyen-Witvliet.

The department-sponsored sessions will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 2:15 p.m.  The presentations include:  a performance of “Ishta,” followed by a question-and-answer period, with 2012 Hope graduate Jillian Rice and junior Jessica St. Clair of Sparta, N.J. (dance); “Reconciliation Up Close and Personal,” featuring students and staff who participated in the college’s reconciliation-training retreat in Montana in June 2011 (education and American ethnic studies); “Side Effects May Include: Reconciling HIV Exposure and Its After-Effects,” by 2010 Hope graduate Marlee Bogema (nursing); “Preaching Mutual Forgiveness and the Forgetting of All Wrongs: Reconciliation and Justice in the French Revolution,” by Dr. Ronen Steinberg of the Michigan State University history faculty (history); “A.J. Muste: Hope’s Famous Peacemaker,” by 2010 Hope graduate Jeffrey Meyers (religion); and “Muslim-Christian Dialogue as Means to Reconciliation,” by Douglas Leonard, director of the Al Amana Centre of the Sultanate of Oman (sociology/social work/international studies).

The college’s Critical Issues Symposium, first held in 1980, was established to stimulate serious thinking about current issues, and to provide a forum in which the Holland community, students and faculty may all engage in discussion with experts. The college cancels classes for a day to provide an opportunity for the event.

Past topics have included “Genocide,” “The Middle East,” “World Hunger,” “The Family,” “Energy,” “Civil Rights,” “The Quest for Justice: Christian Voices,” “Lifeboat Earth: Decisions for Tomorrow,” “The Columbus Legacy, 1492-1992,” “Race and Social Change in America,” “What Future Is in our Genes: Freedom from Disease, Good Investment, Manufactured Humans?,” “Sport and American Life,” “Feminism and Faith: Implications for Life,” “Gold Rush and Ghost Towns: Living with the Internet,” “Earth Matters: Daily Decisions, Environmental Echoes,” “Putting Science in Its Place: Discovery and Responsibility,” “Race and Opportunity: Echoes of Brown v. Board of Education,” “Immigration: Shaping and Reshaping America,” “Global Health:  From Catastrophe to Cure,” “At Water’s Edge:  Complacency, Thirst, Action,” “Good Food for the Common Good” and “Exploring Islam.”

Dimnent Memorial Chapel, the venue for the two keynote addresses, is located at 277 College Ave., at College Avenue and 12th Street.

Additional information about the symposium, including locations and other details concerning the blocks of concurrent focus sessions and departmental sessions, will be available in the printed program distributed during