Dordt College News

Book studies for all

January 25, 2013

“Dordt Reads” began last semester, offering faculty and staff at Dordt College a new opportunity to engage in conversations about a range of contemporary issues through a series of book discussions.

Leah Zuidema, an associate provost and one of the organizers of the new initiative, says that the reading groups were started as “a way for us to look at who we are and what we do; it’s a way of looking in the mirror and talking again about what it means to be Reformed.”

Each semester, book discussions are scheduled for three different books. Faculty and staff can choose to read one or more and attend discussions led by a colleague. 

Criminal Justice Professor Donald Roth, who participated in all three of last semester’s discussions and will lead one of the groups this semester, says that he found the groups to be a good opportunity to interact with other faculty and staff. 

“As a student, I really enjoyed talking with others about issues raised in class. There aren’t as many opportunities to do that as professors because we’re all busy, and there isn’t necessarily a time or place when we’re all together.”

Philosophy professor Neal DeRoo shares this view, saying that the most valuable aspect of the discussion groups is “the chance to have campus-wide discussions about important topics, and to get to hear from people I otherwise would not talk with since their offices are buildings away from mine.”

Sheryl Taylor, director of library services, has been both a leader and participant in the groups, and she appreciates the groups for similar reasons. They offer an opportunity to hear a broad range of perspectives, and since the groups are small, the intimidation factor is low “because almost everyone is out of their element and on neutral ground.”

Taylor hopes the group conversation will expand to include members of the broader community as well. “The issues we talk about are relevant to Dordt and community life. There are seldom easy answers, so we need to discuss in community.”

According to Roth, community discussion is something that Dordt wants to promote on campus. “It’s kind of like the Water Project. We want to push for integrated learning and interdisciplinary study and create opportunities for students and faculty.”

So far, more than 50 employees have participated in the groups, and Zuidema hopes that number will grow this spring, especially since some of the authors of the books being read will be on campus as part of the First Mondays Speaker Series.


Current Books

Books being read this semester include:
Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal Introduction by Richard J. Mouw
Heroic Conservatism by Michael J. Gerson
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

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