Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Updated: ICS During COVID-19

MAY 3, 2022 UPDATE: ONLINE COURSES CONTINUE FOR 2022-23 ACADEMIC YEAR WITH POSSIBLE EXCEPTIONS

During the 2022-2023 academic year ICS learning will continue to take place online, using a combination of Zoom video-conferencing and Google Classrooms. Exceptions to this arrangement (to allow in-person learning) can be made at the written request of all the participants in a particular course, seminar, colloquium, or symposium with the written approval of the Academic Dean.

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AUGUST 6, 2021 UPDATE: COURSES REMAIN ONLINE FOR FALL 2021 & WINTER 2022 SEMESTERS

In the interest of serving the needs of our global community of students and out of concern for the health of our students, instructors, and staff, ICS will continue to offer all learning interactions remotely during the Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 academic terms. The ICS executive leadership team will assess conditions during the Winter 2022 term to determine if it would be appropriate to offer some learning interactions in person as of the Summer 2022 term. Students who started ICS programs remotely can rest assured that remote learning will remain an option with regard to all courses and mentoring, even if ICS resumes some in-person learning, also after the Winter 2022 term.

Course information can be found in our Course Catalogue throughout the year. Please reach out to Elizabet, course leaders, or our Senior Members if you have any questions or concerns.

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NOVEMBER 25, 2020 UPDATE: DELAYED START TO WINTER 2021 SEMESTER

The following is an important change in the start date for winter term classes in January. ICS will be following the lead of the University of Toronto, Knox College, and the Toronto School of Theology by delaying the start of the Winter 2021 semester by one week. 

This means that classes for the winter term will now begin on Monday, January 11, 2021. For regular 13-week synchronous courses, final assignment deadlines will also be extended by one week. The dates for Reading Week remain the same (February 15-19, 2021). The Academic Calendar has been updated to reflect these changes, and a list of Winter 2021 courses is available here.

Below is a brief note from President Ronald A. Kuipers about this schedule change:

To quote President Gertler of the University of Toronto, these decisions are “prompted by the fact that we’ve all been under an extraordinary amount of stress for months now, because of the burdens imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.... [W]e care deeply about the wellness of each and every one of you. We want to make sure that you’re able to rest and recharge, and to make the most of the upcoming holiday break.”

Let me echo President Gertler's comments, and offer my own words of encouragement to the ICS community. The global pandemic has thrown many challenges our way, and has dramatically changed our daily working and studying routines. I deeply appreciate the efforts everyone has made to maintain community in the midst of our relative isolation. Let's continue to support, pray for, and reach out to each other. If you are struggling, please let us know, so that we can find ways to care for you or address any concerns that you have. Let us continue to bless each other as we have since this all began.

I wish you all God's strength and peace as we continue on this strange journey,

Ron

Please reach out to Elizabet, course leaders, or our Senior Members if you have any questions or concerns.

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AUGUST 1, 2020 UPDATE: FALL SEMESTER SCHEDULE

After a successful summer of online learning, ICS has made the decision to continue to deliver all of our course offerings remotely for the fall semester. We believe this will best enable our Senior and Junior Members to stay safe and healthy while still allowing classes to meet at a distance. We'll miss the presence of our students on campus, but we have growing anticipation for the start of another academic year and of ICS community life (albeit a virtual one!) with new and returning students alike.

Course syllabi are being finalized over the remainder of the summer and details are being ironed out, but the Fall Course Schedule has been set and course descriptions are now available. Our roster of fall courses can be found here: www.icscanada.edu/fall-2020. And, as always, you can reach out to our Registrar Elizabet Aras with any questions you might have about what the upcoming semester will look like.
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APRIL 1, 2020 UPDATE: EVENTS AND DEADLINES

ICS Leadership, staff, and faculty have been hard at work in past weeks monitoring the daily developments to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis, strategizing, and discerning immediate and long-term ways forward for our programming, courses, and events. Today, ICS had to make a number of difficult decisions regarding quickly-approaching events, deadlines, and courses.

Unfortunately, in response to current public health recommendations and the enforced limitations on travel and public gatherings, we must CANCEL Convocation 2020, the honourary doctorate celebration of Dr. Barbara Carvill, and ART in Orvieto 2020. Lord willing, we will have the opportunity to revisit these celebratory and educational opportunities again next year. Thus, our current intention is to honour our 2020 graduates together with our 2021 graduates at our Convocation next May, and to likewise gather to celebrate Dr. Carvill at that time. We also intend to offer ART in Orvieto again during summer 2021.

We've also decided to adapt the original plans and deadlines for our Undergraduate Workshop, the summer course on Hannah Arendt, and admission to our MA-EL and MWS-ART programs. For this year's Undergraduate Workshop, we have tentatively rescheduled the event for Fall 2020 and extended the submission deadline until July 31. For our MA-EL and MWS-ART programs, we've extended our standard application deadline until August 1. And for the Hannah Arendt course, we're currently considering the possibility of the course being delivered remotely.

Given the unpredictability of current circumstances, ICS will continue to offer its courses remotely until further notice in order to remain as adaptable as possible in our efforts to make an ICS education readily available. So please stay tuned for more information regarding upcoming summer course opportunities currently in development, as well as increased possibilities for online education into the next school year. And, if you have any questions about these or any other ICS courses, programs, and events, please do not hesitate to reach out to us by phone or email!

We remain cautiously hopeful in these days and, as always, invite your prayers for students, staff, and faculty alike in their various callings and day-to-day lives.
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MARCH 17, 2020 UPDATE:

Following the city of Toronto's increased social distancing recommendations, and the University of Toronto's closure of most of their library locations, ICS will close its administrative offices and library effective today until public health authorities declare it advisable to resume in-person operations. We greatly value the health and safety of our staff, faculty, and students--as well as our neighbours--and we consider this a small but important step to slowing the spread of this virus.

ICS staff and faculty will continue working regular hours remotely during this time, and may be reliably contacted by email if you wish to get in touch for any reason. We will continue to monitor the public health situation daily and will make any important updates (including the status of upcoming events and summer courses) known to you here as soon as possible. To that end, we also continue to invite applications to our Undergraduate Workshop in May, our course on Hannah Arendt in April-June, and ART in Orvieto in July-August. No fees for these courses/events will be charged until it is clear that the courses/events will in fact take place.

In the meantime, our Senior and Junior Members forge ahead with classes and projects, our staff go on planning and executing everyday operations, and we all pray for safety and swift healing for those affected by this health crisis. 
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MARCH 13, 2020: SUSPENSION OF IN-PERSON CLASSES 

In light of the ongoing development of the COVID-19 virus, and in conjunction with our colleagues at the Toronto School of Theology and the University of Toronto, ICS has determined that it is appropriate to cancel all ICS in-person seminars for the remainder of the Winter semester (March 16-April 10). Junior and Senior Members have already been notified accordingly about how to participate in their respective seminars via teleconference during this time period.

Because we share a campus with both Knox College and the University of Toronto, ICS has committed to following the lead of Knox College, the Toronto School of Theology, and the University of Toronto with respect to the implementation of any social distancing measures deemed appropriate.

For the latest on these specific measures, you can read a message from the President of UofT here. For the latest on Canada's COVID-19 monitoring, national response, and prevention and preparation advice, please visit the Government of Canada website or the Toronto Public Health page.

Following campus measures, the ICS offices and library will remain open during this period, and we will continue with daily operations. We will keep you updated as to whether any of this changes, and about the status of upcoming ICS events as we continually monitor the state of affairs on campus, locally, and globally. We also request during this time that anyone who feels ill stay home and seek appropriate healthcare if necessary.

ICS is grateful for your patience and support as we adjust and attend to the unfolding situation day to day, and as we seek to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our students, staff, and faculty.

Monday, 2 May 2022

God on the Cross

My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!
Oh, the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly;
I cannot keep silent; for I hear the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.

—Jeremiah 4:19

I was reminded of this lament from the book of Jeremiah when I recently read it in the thesis of an ICS master’s student, retired CRC pastor Fred VanderBerg. Whereas all the commentaries I have consulted say that in this passage it is Jeremiah who weeps over the coming destruction of his people, a destruction he understands to be punishment from God for their iniquity, pastor Fred instead boldly argues that the forces of sin and death do not need God’s help to wreak their havoc. He goes on to suggest that in this passage it is God, not Jeremiah, who weeps in anguish over the harm that will come to God’s beloved people as they are seduced by and ensnared in the world’s evil. God never stops loving and being with these people, and so shares their suffering.

Fred’s interpretive tweak profoundly shifts our understanding of God’s relationship to a suffering and broken world. God the punisher becomes God the compassionate fellow sufferer, the one who helps carry us through our suffering and who eventually sets our broken hearts aright.

During this Eastertide, I have been pondering another observation I recently heard to the effect that “Jesus is what God looks like.” I confess that I have been more inclined to think in terms of Jesus somehow becoming God (and thereby less like Jesus), rather than the other way around. Was that God on the cross? Was this the ultimate way for our compassionate Creator to enter the arena of human suffering and overcome it for good? Jesus himself told us that “the Father and I are one” (John 10:30).

As the world’s powers turn perpetually to war, now again in the Ukraine not to mention other places, we do well to remind ourselves of our Messiah’s message that God’s kingdom does not come into the world this way. We must look elsewhere, anywhere else. The God who suffers the abject pain and humiliation of the cross heralds a different kind of kingdom, a counter-kingdom of shalom. This is a kingdom that comes into the world not through military might or economic power, but a kingdom that comes through—and is for—the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for justice, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted (Matthew 5:3-12). It is a tragic thing when people must take up arms to defend themselves and their homes from aggressive attack, and we continue to hope and pray for a day when all the world’s lions finally give up their destructive trust in the ways of violence and lay down beside the lambs who have shown them what God’s counter-kingdom is like.

These truths, which I have long professed, came home to me once again through Pastor Fred’s careful work, and powerfully reminded me of how easily my heart can come to desire things other than the coming of God’s glorious shalom. Please pray that ICS may long continue to be a school that encourages its students and teachers to bear witness to such foolish wisdom.

Shalom, my friends!

Ron Kuipers

Prayer Letter: May 2022

Monday, May 2 - Friday, May 6:


On May 2, ICS Senior Member Edith van der Boom published a short article with Christian Deeper Learning titled “Global Citizen Education: A Responsiveness to Culture.” In it, Edith reflects: “Together with our students we need to challenge ourselves by first looking at our own actions and our biases and how they may need to change to grow into the global citizens we are meant to be.” We are grateful for this opportunity for Edith to publish some of her thoughts on education in this venue.

We ask for your continued prayers for the Leadership Team over the next two weeks as they work toward finalizing the draft 2022-23 budget for approval at the Board meeting on June 3rd. After two full years of the pandemic, we still require wisdom to assess the ongoing impact on our revenue and expenses. We are grateful for God’s provision throughout this past year, and we continue to pray for grace and insight as we endeavour to make the wisest possible stewardship decisions as we plan for the future.

During the month of May, the CPRSE’s Philosophy Otherwise team will focus its activities on the new Ground Motive series, “Philosophy Otherwise: Knowledge Reconsidered, Learning Reimagined.” This online forum seeks to better equip our community to listen to alternative philosophical voices and to integrate them in a renewed approach to the philosophical craft. We pray in thanksgiving for the series’ contributors and participants, as they share their written reflections on this challenging subject with the ICS community and beyond.


Monday, May 9 - Friday, May 10:


Please pray this month for our Junior Members as they wrap up their course papers, with some also working on their theses. It is an intensive period, with diligence and focus required especially for those who are graduating. May God grant them clarity of mind and inspiration as they develop their insights in their writing projects. As May 27th is the submission deadline for outstanding coursework for the Winter 2022 semester, your prayers for our Junior Members would be most appreciated.

Please pray for the three MA-EL courses which started on April 25th and run through to the week of August 12th. The summer courses running during this time are: Biblical Foundations with Nik Ansell and ICS PhD candidate Mark Standish, Cultivating Learning Communities of Grace with Edith van der Boom, and Lead From Where You Are with Gideon Strauss. Please pray for all the students and faculty that each class will be filled with interactive discussions and inspired moments of learning.


Monday, May 16 - Friday, May 20:


On Monday, Junior Member Grace Carhart will defend her MA thesis entitled Acedia, Despair, Nihilism, and the Chronic Human Condition of Self-Separation: What We Can Learn from a Tradition of Fear and Failure. We congratulate Grace on reaching this important milestone! Please pray for Grace during this time of preparation for her exam and during the defense itself, and pray also for the members of her examination committee—Bob Sweetman (supervisor), Rebekah Smick (internal examiner), and Dr. William V. Rowe (external examiner)—as they engage with Grace’s work, that everyone may experience a fruitful discussion.

Our spring mailing is on its way to a mailbox near you! It includes the latest issue of Perspective (also now available on our website) and the President's letter to our ICS community. We pray that all our readers will thoroughly enjoy this special issue of Perspective devoted to the legacy of Cal and Inès Seerveld who were instrumental in creating and encouraging at ICS an appreciation of life’s aesthetic dimension.


Monday, May 23 - Friday, May 27:


Between May 25-27, ICS will actively participate in the second annual Seeking Justice Conference, organized by Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ). Focused on the theme “Seeking Justice in our Institutions,” this year’s conference explores ways to co-create more just, faithful, and healthy relationships within institutional frameworks. On Thursday, May 26 at 7:00pm EDT, ICS President Ronald A. Kuipers will participate in a panel marking the release of CPJ’s Equity and Anti-Oppression Statement; and on Friday, May 27 at 1:00pm EDT, CPRSE Associate Director Héctor Acero Ferrer will co-lead the workshop “Decolonizing Faith as Individuals and Institutions.'' Please pray for all of the conference’s organizers, presenters, and attendees as they engage in these timely and challenging discussions.

Please pray this week for all the preparations that need to be made by the staff, Leadership Team, Senate, and Board members for the upcoming events that will be happening the beginning of June:

  • On Thursday, June 2, the ICS Senate will convene for an all-day meeting. After having adjusted to Senate meetings being conducted by means of online video for the duration of the pandemic, Senators are excited by the prospect of being able to meet in person and on site in Toronto. Please pray for wisdom and clarity of mind for the Chair and ICS Chancellor, Dr. Aron Reppmann, as he leads the sessions, and for all the external and internal Senators as they consider the range of issues on the agenda concerning ICS’s academic programs. We also want to pray for the Academic Dean, Registrar, and ICS staff who will be supporting the Senate meeting, that all will go smoothly to ensure the meeting is as productive as possible.

  • On Friday, June 3rd, the Board of Trustees will meet together in person for the first time in two years. Please pray for grace and wisdom for our Chair, John Joosse, and all Board and Leadership Team members as they deliberate together on the various matters before them at this particular time of the year. We also ask for prayer for our ICS staff as they finalize all the details to ensure a smooth meeting and enjoyable time of fellowship for our trustees.

  • Then at 6pm EDT on Friday, for the first time in three years, our Convocation will take place! Again, we ask for prayer for our staff who will be overseeing the logistical and hospitality details of this event, especially for Elizabet Aras, our Registrar, as she ensures all the academic details of Convocation are in place. Pray too for our graduands and their families who will be traveling to Toronto, that they will have safe journeys and that their participation in this important event in their lives will be inspirational. We ask for your prayers for all those who will be participating in Convocation in an official capacity, and especially for Barbara Carvill, who will be receiving an honourary doctorate on the night and giving the Convocation address. This year’s Convocation ceremony and address will be live-streamed, so keep an eye out for those details in the June E-Newsletter (you can also email Danielle at ics-communications@icscanada.edu to let us know ahead of time if you’d like to receive the live-stream information).

Between June 8–11, ICS will host its 2022 Summer Community Conference: "Difficult Conversations, Difficult Journeys, Difficult Justice.” This online space for reflection, dialogue, and capacity-building aims to offer participants the tools to think critically and dialogue constructively about the most pressing issues faced by our communities today—such as polarization, colonization, systemic oppression, and Indigenous-settler relations. ICS Senior Members Edith van der Boom, Rebekah Smick, Ron Kuipers, and Nik Ansell will offer keynote presentations. The conference is free, so please consider registering, and sharing the link to invite your friends and family to join the conversation too! Please also pray that this event will be a fruitful step in our community’s ongoing journey towards justice.


Monday, May 30 - Tuesday, May 31:


Andrew Tebbutt will be teaching a summer intensive during June 13 - July 22, The Visible, The Invisible, and the Revealed: Phenomenology and Christianity, which explores philosophical innovations—such as love, faith, grace, Word, and incarnation—that a phenomenology of Christianity makes available to thought, as well as other philosophical themes—such as attention, embodiment, language, and community—that are enriched by the intersection of phenomenology and Christianity. Registration is still open for this course (just email Elizabet Aras at academic-registrar@icscanada.edu). Please pray for students to find their way to the course and for a time of deep and inspiring conversations for Andrew and the course participants.

Register Today for the Online ICS Summer Community Conference!


VISIT:

We are excited to announce some of the details about our upcoming ICS Summer Community Conference on June 8-11, 2022! The conference is free to attend and will take place online so our community can join us from anywhere in the world. The theme of this year's event is: “Difficult Conversations, Difficult Journeys, Difficult Justice.” 

We are hoping this will be a space for reflection, dialogue, and fellowship curated by the Centre for Philosophy, Religion, and Social Ethics. Through a combination of webinar sessions, workshops, and moderated conversations, this conference aims to generate constructive dialogue about some of the most pressing issues faced by our communities today. The conference’s ultimate goal is to offer participants the tools to think critically and dialogue constructively about issues such as polarization, colonization, systemic oppression, and Indigenous-settler relations. 

ICS Senior and Junior Members, alums, and institutional partners will enrich this conference with their contributions, offering the audience a glimpse into their current teaching and research. ICS Senior Members Edith van der Boom, Rebekah Smick, Ronald A. Kuipers, and Nik Ansell are our confirmed keynote speakers. 

We're in the process of finalizing conference details, but a fuller description of the conference, a schedule outlining events, and a link to register are now available. Visit the conference webpage to register and for more information as it becomes available: icscanada.edu/summer-conference

Feel free to share this link and invite your friends and family into these important conversations!


ICS Participating in CPJ Seeking Justice Conference

During May 25-27, ICS will be sponsoring and participating in the second annual Seeking Justice Conference, organized by Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ). The theme of this year's conference is “Seeking Justice in our Institutions,” exploring ways to co-create more just, faithful, and healthy relationships within institutional frameworks. ICS will be presenting at the conference in the following sessions:

  • On Thursday, May 26 at 7:00pm EDT, ICS President Ronald A. Kuipers will participate in a panel marking the release of CPJ’s Equity and Anti-Oppression Statement.

  • On Friday, May 27 at 1:00pm EDT, CPRSE Associate Director Héctor Acero Ferrer will co-lead the workshop “Decolonizing Faith as Individuals and Institutions.''

The conference this year will be entirely online and there are a variety of ticket options available if you would like to attend these or any of the many other exciting sessions. Visit cpj.ca/sj2022/ for all the details. 

Friday, 1 April 2022

Art, Hope, and Healing

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation:
everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

—2 Corinthians 5:17

Over the past decade, a small, hopeful thing has been happening in Toronto. Local artists have been busy transforming small pieces of civic infrastructure, specifically those gunmetal grey utility boxes, into wonderfully playful and insightful works of art. I am delighted whenever I discover a new one, as this buzzing city becomes incrementally more livable each time an artist I don’t know communicates something to me about the way she sees and experiences the familiar places and spaces we both call home.

Yet public art is not always sweetness and light. Last year, in our Interdisciplinary Seminar, we had the good fortune to discuss former ICS Senior Member Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin’s book Art, Conflict, and Remembering: The Murals of the Bogside Artists. In this catalogue, Dengerink Chaplin chronicles the story behind the creation of twelve large murals of “commemorative public art” in the city of Derry, which tell a candid yet ultimately healing story about the time of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. As Dengerink Chaplin explains, “the murals…provide a safe space and talking point to deal with the past. They facilitate the kind of open-ended conversations that are essential for the proper processing of complex and confused traumatic memories” (Art, Conflict, and Remembering, 17). In Derry, artistic work that courageously portrays a community’s wounds simultaneously provides the occasion to examine, address, and even heal those wounds.

Easter is a good time I think to reflect on the role human artistic creation can play in helping us work through and even heal trauma. For the connection we perceive between art and healing is no accident, but rather reflects the fact that God is both our creator and redeemer, a maker and a healer, an artist and a physician—simultaneously. As Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, quoted above, Jesus Messiah’s sacrificial act of redemption is itself a new creation. If we are in Christ, then we are a new creation as well—called to create anew, to imagine God’s kingdom of shalom where justice and peace embrace, to exemplify for each other what that kingdom looks like, and to do all we can to make it a reality today.

Shalom, my friends! May the peace of Christ be with you and with our world.

Ron Kuipers