Spring 2014: God and the University

Religion in Higher Education

Early universities within the United States were largely established to advance the ideals of liberal education within a religious moral framework.  In the last century, however, the academy has become widely ambivalent about the place of "God" in the broader discourse of a university. This quarter's lecture series will ask why, as we consider the role of religion within higher education in the United States.

What Good is God outside of Religious Studies?

Interdisciplinary Reflections on the God-Question

by Phyllis Brown |

April 30, 2014 | 12 – 1:15 p.m. (Lunch provided)
Williman Room, Benson Memorial Center

Is there a role for God talk outside religious studies?  What is the nature and substance of interdisciplinary engagement around the God question at Santa Clara University?  This panel is comprised of four faculty members from a range of academic disciplines, all considering the question of What Good is God? from the perspective of their own scholarship and teaching at Santa Clara, as well as the related disciplinary and interdisciplinary questions of their fields more broadly.  Phyllis Brown, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Professor in the Department of English, Santa Clara University, will facilitate this panel.

Facilitated by:

Phyllis R. Brown (Ph.D., University of Oregon, 1979) is Professor of English and Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies at Santa Clara University. Her area of scholarly expertise is medieval and early-modern literature, especially poetry by women. Among her favorite courses to teach are first-year writing, Introduction to Poetry, and a seminar Medieval Women Writers and Writing. Before becoming Associate Provost, Brown served as Director of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program, of the Peer Educator Program, of the Undergraduate Core Curriculum, and as Chair of the English Department. 


Brian Buckley is a Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at Santa Clara.  Brian grew up right down the street from the Santa Clara campus and used to attend Mass at the Mission before he left for college in Seattle.  After earning a Bachelor’s degree in the Northwest, Brian moved to Washington DC to work on a law degree.  Along the way, he figured out that his life would be empty without philosophy, so he did further extensive graduate work in philosophy and earned his PhD in Chicago.  His teaching and research are centered in the integrity of the human person and justice as the virtue that protects such persons and also promotes the common good.  Brian has four degrees from Catholic universities and Santa Clara is the fourth Jesuit school where he has taught.  He has been teaching at Santa Clara since the fall of 2007. 

Kristin Kusanovich
is a modern dancer who has directed, choreographed and produced over one hundred solo and ensemble works in dance, drama, musical theatre, opera, film and video. She received her MFA in Choreography and Performance from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and her BA from SCU in Dance with a minor in Mathematics. Currently a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Dance and the Liberal Studies Program, Kusanovich also co-directed the Justice and the Arts Initiative. Her research, which investigates the embodied creative process, involves aesthetics, assessment, education, educational administration, ethics, leadership, mathematics and religion. She has served as a master teaching artist with Arts Council of Silicon Valley where she works with children from the lowest income schools in San Jose.

Thomas Plante is the Augustin Cardinal Bea, S.J. University Professor and directs the Spirituality and Health Institute at Santa Clara University. He is also an adjunct clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine.  He received his Sc.B. in Psychology from Brown University, his MA and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kansas, and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship and Clinical Internship at Yale University.  He recently served as vice-chair of the National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Youth for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and is past-president of the Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality (Division 36) of the American Psychological Association. He has authored or edited 19 books including Religion, Spirituality, and Positive Psychology: Understanding the Psychological Fruits of Faith (2012, Greenwood), Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: A Decade of Crisis, 2002-2012 (2011, Greenwood), and Spiritual Practices in Psychotherapy: Thirteen Tools for Enhancing Psychological Health (2009, American Psychological Association). He has published over 175 scholarly professional journal articles and book chapters as well.  He teaches courses in abnormal, clinical, health, and general psychology as well as ethics and maintains a private clinical practice as a licensed psychologist in Menlo Park, CA. 

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