Common Day of Learning

by Karla Shirvanian '10

The 18th annual Common Day of Learning (CDL) took place on Wed., March 3. The theme, "cling to what is good," taken from Romans 12:9, was meant to invoke reflection of the nature of goodness and the One who is good in the midst of a busy and imperfect world.

Each CDL is a time where regular day-time activities are suspended in order for students, faculty, and staff to share their recent academic discoveries and learn from one another on topics of their choosing.

This year's keynote speaker was renowned professor, author, and preacher Dallas Willard. Willard is a professor in the School of Philosophy at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. His latest book, Knowing Christ Today, offers an examination of what happens when the teachings of Jesus Christ and his people are divorced from the domain of human knowledge. His other publications have received acclaim, including Renovation of the Heart (2002), which received Christianity Today's 2003 Book Award in the category of spirituality, and The Divine Conspiracy (1998), which was selected as Christianity Today's "Book of the Year" for 1999. Willard spoke on the theme "cling to what is good" and gave a deeper understanding of what knowledge is and what it means to cling to what is good.

"Knowledge alone gives you the right and responsibility to act, direct action, to formulate and supervise policy, to teach," said Willard.

Lunch followed the first session and enabled the people to share ideas and their new-found knowledge outside of the sessions. More than 70 panel sessions were available throughout the day for participants. One session included a look into the Fulbright program, including the application process and what the experience abroad will look like. Another focused on grief and loss and the manner people deal with this overwhelming time in their life.

Other sessions included the topics "what it means to be good?", "The Ethical Teacher," and "Faith and Personal Finance: Exploring the Past to Prepare for the Future." A session with guest speaker Michael Eaton, cinematographer and director, included a screening of portions of his documentary, Sharecropper's Son: The Life and Legacy of John M. Perkins, a movie on the life of John M. Perkins. The movie shares the story of this extraordinary man and sharecropper’s son who converted to Christianity in 1960, s returned to Mendenhall, Mississippi, to share the gospel of Christ. Following this special film screening, Eaton led a discussion about Perkins and the making of this film.

In addition to the regular sessions, a supplementary, all-day session was hosted by the Center to Restore Trafficked and Exploited Children (CRTEC). This session trained participants in the basic concepts of human trafficking, identifying trafficked victims, and how to facilitate rescue and restoration.

With more than 15 sessions spanning across the day, the event was an overall success, with topics spanning all different interests.