Sharing stories, unifying community

SPU hosts 20th annual Day of Common Learning

Santi Quiroga Medina, News Editor

A Cascade archive details the Day of Common Learning that took place in the fall of 2018. (Courtesy to Cascade)

Seattle Pacific University will welcome Dr. Monica Coleman on Oct. 7 to kick off the Day of Common Learning, a longtime tradition at SPU. This will be the 20th annual Day of Common Learning, and will focus on the topic “Unbreakable: Unifying Principles of Long-Lasting Communities.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Day of Common Learning was hosted over Zoom in 2020. This year, all events will be in person.
English Professor Jeffrey Overstreet is thankful for the opportunity to talk with students face-to-face again.
“Being together in person seems more meaningful than ever, and that seems like a great opportunity for a conversation about hopes and dreams for our community,” Overstreet said.
Coleman, the keynote speaker, is a professor of Africana studies at the University of Delaware. She has a background in theological education, and has written multiple books and articles that focus on the role of faith in addressing critical social and philosophical issues. ​Dr. Coleman speaks widely on navigating change, religious diversity, mental wellness, and surviving sexual and domestic violence.

“One of the powerful parts of Dr. Coleman’s work is the brave voice of her own experience,” Neuroscience Professor Phillip Baker said. “We are looking forward to hearing her speak and opening a space for those in our communities that have stories of faith and struggle as well.”

Following Coleman’s keynote address in the Royal Brougham Pavilion at 10 a.m., students are invited to attend faculty panels in Upper Gwinn from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. At these panels, faculty will share their stories on how they have created positive change in their communities.

The final portion of the day will include faculty-hosted breakout sessions from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. These small groups are meant to help students talk through and process what they have learned throughout the day. There will be six different breakout sessions, each discussing the main topic from different angles.

Education Professor Robin Henrickson will be leading a breakout session along with two colleagues, specifically with a focus on how community can help build emotional resilience.

“We want our session to be interactive and we hope that students will be able to consider their own communities whatever they may be,” Henrickson said. “We want to create dialogue that allows us all to consider why we need community, how our own culture impacts our level of trust in a community, empathy, how to address conflict and so much more!”

Overstreet is also leading a group of students in discussion following the faculty panels. He is excited to speak with students about their perspectives and experiences at SPU.
“I hope to spark further conversation in my breakout session about how we might best invest our time, resources, attention, and prayers in striving for meaningful change within SPU’s community,” Overstreet said. “I am eager to hear from others about what kind of SPU story they find themselves within, what the challenges are that they face, and what kind of resolution they would hope to see.”
Baker’s breakout session will center on theology and how the individual’s personal experience informs their own beliefs, as well as what salvation through community might look like at SPU.
As the Day of Common Learning approaches, students should expect to question their beliefs and enter with an open mind.
“We hope students are empowered and challenged to take seriously their own stories of faith, and to bring them boldly to the discussion of what the SPU community looks like going forward,” Baker said.