Keynote Speakers and Focus Session Speakers
Dr. Virginia Beard is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Hope College. She earned a B.A. in Political Science with a focus on African Politics and Third World Development from Calvin College in 2000, her M.A. in Public Policy and Administration from Michigan State University in 2005, and her Ph.D. in Political Science with a focus on International Development and African Politics as well as Public Policy from Michigan State University in 2006.
Dr. Beard's areas of specialization are comparative politics, focused on Africa, as well as public policy. Dr. Beard has spent much time in Kenya and has language experience in both Swahili and German. She was part of a training through Duke University's Center for Reconciliation in May, 2012, and was a Lilly Foundation Fellow studying at the Corrymeela Peace and Reconciliation Center in Northern Ireland in a program entitled, “Teaching Peace and Reconciliation: Theory and Practice in Northern Ireland.” These experiences and her research on peace and conflict will inform her conversation with Dr. Ernest Cole on reconciliation.
Dr. Peter Cha is associate professor of pastoral theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Trained in both sociology (BA, University of Chicago; PhD, Northwestern University) and theology (MDiv and ThM, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), Dr. Cha has taught and researched in the area of Church and Society since 1997. Before then, Dr. Cha served as a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and as a pastor in ethnic and multiethnic churches. Recently, Dr. Cha served in the Committee on Race and Ethnicity (CORE) of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and in the Summer Institute of Reconciliation (Duke Divinity School) as a teaching faculty.
Mark Charles is a speaker, writer, and consultant from Fort Defiance, AZ, located on the Navajo Reservation. The son of an American woman of Dutch heritage and a Navajo man, Mark seeks to understand the complexities of American history regarding race, culture, and faith in order to help forge a path of healing and reconciliation for the nation. He partners with numerous organizations to assist them in respectfully approaching, including, and working with native communities. Mark is a graduate of UCLA. He consults as a resource development specialist for Indigenous worship through Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. He is the primary investigator in a study conducted by Brigham Young University on the Navajo perception of time. Mark serves as a board member for Christian Community Development Association and the Christian Reformed Church of North America. He developed and coordinates the Global Discipleship Network project through Christian Reformed World Missions.
Dr. Ernest Cole is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Hope College. He was born in the east end of Freetown, Sierra Leone, where he completed his primary and high school examinations. He earned his B.A. (Hon) (1990) and M.A. (1994) at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone. At the outbreak of the civil war in Sierra Leone, Ernest and his wife left for The Gambia, a neighboring country in West Africa. There, he took up appointment at The Gambia College as Senior Lecturer and Head of English, and later became Lecturer in the Department of English at University of the Gambia in September 2000. In 2003, he embarked on a Ph.D. program in English in Post-Colonial Literature at the University of Connecticut, and graduated in 2008. Dr. Cole’s research interests are in Post-Colonial Literature with emphasis on Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, and India and in Victorian literature (Travel and Empire).
Gillian D. Grannum is pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and an M.Div. in worship, theology and the arts at Fuller Theological Seminary. A native of Philadelphia, Gillian holds a master’s degree in urban education from Temple University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Harvard University. Her academic and vocational interests lie in the integration of theology and psychology and the arts, particularly within the context of the church. She serves as musical director at Sojourn Village in Sherman Oaks, California. She has also toured internationally as a bassist with New Spirit/Agape (an all-female gospel ensemble) and recently released a CD of sacred music entitled “Perfect Peace.” Gillian’s desire is that her music be experienced as “soul food,” - music that not only pleases the ear, but nourishes the heart and feeds the spirit. In live performances, she draws from the monastic tradition of evening vespers and the spontaneous inventiveness of jazz performance, seeking to create a musical space in which participants collectively image God as creator and master artist.
Daniel Philpott (Ph.D. Harvard, 1996) is Associate Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame. He pursues interests in international relations, political philosophy, and peace studies. His research focuses on reconciliation in politics. His book, Just and Unjust Peace: An Ethic of Political Reconciliation is forthcoming with Oxford University Press. This book derives from theological and philosophical roots an ethic of reconciliation that offers concrete guidelines to political orders facing pasts of authoritarianism, civil war, and genocide. Philpott also specializes in religion and global politics. His books explore the resurgence of religion in global politics over the past generation, and seek to explain why religious actors take on diverse political pursuits including democratization, peace, reconciliation, civil war, and terrorism. By conducting work in faith-based reconciliation around the globe, Philpott pursues an activist dimension of his scholarly interests. Between 2000 and 2006, he traveled regularly to Kashmir as a senior associate of the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy. He now trains political and religious leaders in reconciliation in Burundi and the broader Great Lakes region of Africa under the auspices of the Catholic Peacebuilding Network.
Charlotte van Oyen-Witvliet
Charlotte vanOyen-Witvliet, Ph.D., is the Jacobson Professor of Psychology at Hope College. Trained as a scientist-practitioner clinical psychologist, she has conducted psychophysiology research on the embodied responses people have when reliving past interpersonal transgressions, holding grudges, experiencing justice, cultivating forgiveness, and developing gratitude. Her publications have appeared in journals such as Psychological Science, The Journal of Positive Psychology, and the Journal of Psychology and Theology. External research grants from The John Templeton Foundation and the Fetzer Institute have supported her research with students. Witvliet's forgiveness research has been featured in over a hundred media outlets, including Time, Newsweek, O: The Oprah magazine, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and CNN. Witvliet will present a session on Interpersonal Forgiveness With and Without Reconciliation (October 29, 3:30 p.m.).
Miroslav Volf is Founder and Director of Yale Center for Faith and Culture and Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology, Yale University Divinity School, New Haven, CT. Miroslav Volf was educated in his native Croatia, United States, and Germany. He earned doctoral and post-doctoral degrees (with highest honors) from the University of Tuebingen, Germany. He has written or edited 15 books and over 70 scholarly articles. His most significant books include Exclusion and Embrace (1996; winner of Grawemeyer Award in Religion, and one of Christianity Today’s 100 most important religious books of the 20th century); After Our Likeness (1998) in which he explores the Trinitarian nature of ecclesial community; Allah: A Christian Response (2011), whether Muslims and Christians have a common God; and A Public Faith: On How Followers of Christ Should Serve the Common Good (2011).
Department Session Speakers
Marlee Bogema (Nursing Department Session)
Marlee Bogema graduated Summa Cum Laude from Hope College in 2010, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a minor in Spanish. She received the Excellence in Student Performance award from Sigma Theta Tau, Kappa Epsilon Chapter-at-Large and the Senior Research Award. Marlee is an Oncology Certified Nurse and has worked with oncology and immunocompromised patients for the past two years and is planning to begin graduate school in the near future.
Douglas Leonard (Sociology/Social Work and International Studies Session)
The Rev. Douglas Leonard is Director of the Al Amana Centre of the Sultanate of Oman. Doug is ordained in the Reformed Church in America and is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary. He has served two terms as President of an interfaith council in northern Westchester County, a collegium of 100 Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Muslim houses of worship, and has served as a delegate on an international envoy to China with the Appeal of Conscience Foundation. Doug has extensive experience in non-profit management and development and is a Founding Partner of Spire Development, Inc. a capital campaign management firm. He has studied Arabic in Jordan and will soon begin a course in classical Arabic in Oman’s Institute of Sharia Sciences. He publishes academic articles on interfaith theology in Oman’s Al Tasamoh. Doug is planning to begin a Ph.D. in Muslim-Christian relations in the near future.
Jeffrey Meyers (Religion Department Session)
Jeff Meyers graduated from Hope College in 2010 with a double major in religion and history. In May, he graduated with an MA in religion from Earlham School of Religion, where he wrote his master's thesis on A.J. Muste's theology and its influences. He is currently an adjunct instructor at Ivy Tech Community College in Richmond, Indiana, where he also helps lead a new church plant.
Jillian Rice (Dance Department Session)
Jillian Rice graduated with honors from Hope College in May 2012, receiving a B.A. in Dance and Women’s Studies with a minor in Ministry. She was a member of the Women’s Studies Advisory Board as well as a Lilly Scholar.
Jessica St. Clair (Dance Department Session)
Jessica St. Clair is a Junior at Hope College working towards a B.A. in Exercise Science with a minor in Dance. She is planning to attend chiropractic school after graduating from Hope College.
Ronen Steinberg (History Department Session)
Ronen Steinberg is Assistant Professor of History at Michigan State University. In addition to Old Regime and Modern France, his research and specialty areas include transitional justice, mass violence, genocide, memory, and terror and terrorism. Dr. Steinberg earned his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. His dissertation topic was “The Afterlives of the Terror: Dealing with the Legacies of Violence in Post-Revolutionary France, 1794-1830’s.” He is also a graduate (B.A. in History and Philosophy) of Tel-Aviv University.
John Yelding (Education Department Session)
John Yelding is Associate Professor of Education at Hope College and Director of American Ethnic Studies. He specializes in Secondary Education, Multiculturalism, and Rural Education. He has earned the B.A. from Michigan State University and the M.A. from Western Michigan University.