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    Spirituality Scholars

    Spirituality Scholars is a unique, stipended, co-curricular program in spiritual exploration offered by the Wesley Center for Spirituality, Service and Social Justice.  The program extends over 8 months of the fall and spring semesters (excluding J-term)--meeting weekly on Tuesday afternoons from 4:10pm to 6pm in the Sorin Commons Gathering Place.  

    The program invites undergraduates to explore and reflect on the connections in their lives between spirituality, religion, identities and vocation in our global world.  This group will be an interfaith community, led by University Chaplain Nancy Victorin-Vangerud, Director of the Wesley Center for Spirituality, Service and Social Justice, along with guest leaders, like Rabbi Esther Adler.  We will ask big questions, deep questions, and personal questions.  The program is designed to create an intentional, thoughtful exploration for students seeking to deepen their spiritual journeys, learn about diverse spiritual teachers, explore spiritual practices to ground their lives, and create innovative projects on the theme.    

    The theme for the Fall 2019-Spring 2020 Spirituality Scholars is "Spirituality After Warming: Climate Change, Apocalypse, and Stories that Matter."  This theme is based on a play of the subtitle of David Wallace-Wells' recent book, The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming (N.Y.: Tim Duggan Books, 2019) which has been summarized by a reviewer with the following words:

    "It is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible.  In California, wildfires now rage year-round, destroying thousands of homes. Across the US, “500-year” storms pummel communities month after month, and floods displace tens of millions annually.  This is only a preview of the changes to come. And they are coming fast.  Without a revolution in how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth could become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.   

    This year's Spirituality Scholars group will explore what it might mean for humans to conduct their spiritual lives in transformative ways, through spiritual practices that can sustain the possible hospitality, beauty, fertility, justice and community of life in an age of ecological stress.  One might think of Alice Walker's poetic image of honoring "revolutionary petunias", Abraham Heschel's call to "radical amazement", Thich Nhat Hahn's mindful "inter-being," Marshall Ganz' "leadership storytelling", or Rumi's image of "being human as a guest house".  What spiritual practices from diverse traditions can we explore to help us sustain a generative and resilient ecosystem, even in the face of change, loss and suffering?  How can we practice hospitality—for ourselves, other beings and ecologies—when we are faced with possible futures of inhospitality? As a group of diverse perspectives and spirituality traditions, we will explore together our own stories as well as the stories of our guests, authors, and spiritual teachers. 

    There is space in the program for 10-12 scholars who will need to commit to the entire academic year (fall and spring semesters). This selective application process includes an interview with the program leaders, who will discern the good fit of the program with the applicant. Scholars will each receive a stipend from the Mahle Endowment of $2000 for the year to be distributed in two installments ($1000 at the end of each semester). As with a job commitment, if meetings are missed repeatedly, the stipend will need to be adjusted to reflect the missing hours/weeks. Preference may be given to juniors and seniors.

    Program Time: Weekly on Tuesdays, 4:10pm to 6:00pm (including light meal) beginning September 10th, 2019, through May 12th, 2020. (We are off for J-term.) We will also have an overnight Fri-Sat (or Sat-Sun) retreat in mid-October (TBA).