Johnston/CAS Summer Seminar

Graveyard photo

Your education at the University of Redlands doesn’t stop once you accept your diploma in the Greek Theatre.

There are ample opportunities to continue learning, from mini-courses during Alumni Founders Weekend to convocations in Memorial Chapel. This summer, the Johnston and CAS Summer Seminar will bring together faculty and alumni June 21 to 28 to explore the topic “Representations of Death in Philosophy and Popular Culture.”

“We are establishing a new tradition of offering summer alumni seminars because we feel that both the Redlands and the Johnston learning experience extend for a lifetime,” Philosophy Professor Kevin O’Neill said. “The seminars are an opportunity to take part in an intense learning experience that will both extend one’s undergraduate education and, as important, create new learning communities of alumni who can support each other into the future. We see the seminars as both a renewal and as something completely new, a new making of the academic community that began at Johnston.”

The seminar’s home base is Aldersgate Retreat Center in Pacific Palisades. Attendees will go off site for activities, including visits to Forest Lawn in Glendale to see how the funeral industry operates and Hollywood Forever cemetery for a look at how they are mixing technology with mourning.

“I chose the theme because I have an extensive history of writing and giving presentations about death, and I want to share what I know with alumni,” O’Neill said.

In addition to continuing education for alumni, the seminars are also a way for faculty to reconnect with former students.

“The seminar topics are those that the faculty feel moved to share with their onetime students, now partners in learning,” O’Neill said. “It is important to point out that the seminars are being offered as a gift from the faculty and the institution to their alumni. Participants pay for room and board and travel expenses but the seminar itself is free. And we are doing everything we can to keep costs down, and offering scholarships when we can.”

According to O’Neill, this year’s seminar topic will appeal to a wide range of people, including those who are “fascinated by the way Americans face death.”

“This seminar is a natural for anyone whose professional responsibilities include grief work, hospice, estate planning and so forth,” he said. “It will also appeal to philosophers and those interested in philosophy, as well as people interested in cultural criticism and the analysis of popular culture. ... Since there will be many opportunities to examine the practical activity of grieving and mourning, and since we will be sharing and discussing our experiences and ideas about death and the afterlife, the seminar could have a healing function. Less ambitiously it could help us understand a little better our own relationship to our own deaths and the deaths of loved ones. ‘Loved ones’ of course can be extended to include our animal companions, a topic in which I have a special interest.”

Currently, close to a dozen people have signed up for the seminar. The cost for seven nights of lodging in shared rooms and 17 meals is $660, “a modest amount for a location a mile from the Pacific,” O’Neill said. Day participants can also join in the experience and share meals for $69 a day.

“I think this seminar will be a wonderful opportunity to bond with some very interesting and accomplished alumni,” O’Neill said. “It will provide a vehicle to address one of life’s most important and unnerving questions, and will reintegrate you to a learning community with whom you can keep sharing ideas into the future.”

To register, please click here.

Posted: June 14, 2013
Written by: Catherine Garcia

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