The annual Critical Issues Symposium at Hope College will examine “Economic Inequality in a Democratic Society” on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m. and throughout the day on Wednesday, Sept. 28.

View Full Schedule and CIS WebsiteThe public is invited to all of the events. Admission is free.

The symposium explores a single topic in-depth through a variety of presentations led by experts from both beyond campus and within the Hope community.  The program will include two keynote addresses, a series of short talks, focus sessions and department-sponsored presentations.

The symposium will open with the keynote address “Inequality Matters: How America’s Extreme Wealth Gap Undermines Democracy and What We Can Do About It” by Chuck Collins on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.  Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good. Collins is also coeditor of Inequality.org, cofounder of the Patriotic Millionaires and the author of the forthcoming book, “Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good.” The book explores how Collins grew up in the one percent as the great-grandson of meatpacker Oscar Mayer. Then, when he was 26, he gave away his inheritance and has been working to reduce inequality and strengthen communities since 1982.

The program will continue on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 9 a.m. in the Concert Hall of the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts with the keynote address “Following Our Hearts or Our Brains in an Age of Inequality” by David Phillips, who is a research assistant professor for the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities at the University of Notre Dame. Phillips’ research focuses on poverty, particularly as it relates to low-wage labor markets, crime and healthcare staffing.

On Wednesday at 10:15 a.m., the discussion will move to the Knickerbocker Theatre, where community organizations will share how they address economic inequality in the Holland area and how community members can help. Groups involved will include the Holland Rescue Mission, 3sixty, Jubilee Ministries and Community Action House.

On Wednesday at 11:30 a.m., there will be a lunch break, during which CIS attendees from the local community are invited to have lunch on campus at Phelps Dining Hall for $7.50. During this time, there will also be a Brown Bag Lunch Session with Nick Galasso, who is a senior researcher at Oxfam America, a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow and co-author of “Working For The Few: Political Capture and Economic Inequality.” Galasso will address the topic “Is Inequality Inherently ‘Bad’?” To participate in this session, attendees can request a to-go box/drink container for lunch to be taken to Maas Center conference room.

On Wednesday at 1 p.m., concurrent hour-long Focus Sessions at locations around campus will address topics including “Strategies for Reversing Inequality,” “Inequality beyond and within Our Borders: Thinking about Inequality Globally and at Home,” “How Do I Respond Effectively to Inequality,” and “Growth, Demography, and the Recent Convergence of Global Incomes.”

On Wednesday at 2:30 p.m., academic departments and other programs at Hope will consider the issue in a way specific to their disciplines, including art, communication, computer science, history and political science. The presentations include: “Temporary Services,” “The Truth About Local Poverty: Barriers, Bridges, and Empowering Communication,” “Examining the Role of Computing and Information Technology on the Problem of Economic Inequality,” “The Roots of Economic Inequality: Race, Class and Denial of the Past,” and “How Do the Rich Rule? Public Opinion and Interest Groups in Unequal Policy Influence.”

On Wednesday at 4 p.m., the community conversation “Economics of Jim Crow” will be held in the Maas Center conference room. The discussion is sponsored by the college’s GROW Initiative for Diversity and Inclusion.

The participants in the 10:15 a.m. Knickerbocker Theatre event will include Steve Grose, who is executive director for Jubilee Ministries and president of the Holland Public Schools Board; Darryl Bartlett, who is executive director of Holland Rescue Mission; David Lee, who is a marketing and communication specialist at Community Action House; Ana Peña, who is an education and housing specialist at Community Action House; Jon Myers, who is a construction and volunteer coordinator at 3sixty; and Hal Alsum, who is an operations manager at 3sixty.

The speakers during the 1 p.m. Focus Sessions will be Chad Carlson, assistant professor of kinesiology and junior varsity men’s basketball coach at Hope; Llena Chavis, assistant professor of social work at Hope; Kyle Morrison, director of the Childhood Obesity Clinic and assistant professor of kinesiology at Hope; Collins; Galasso; Phillips; Stephen L.S. Smith, professor of economics at Gordon College; Shirley Stancato, president and CEO of New Detroit: A Racial Justice Organization; and Sonia Plata, program manager at New Detroit.

The speakers during the 2:30 p.m. departmental presentations will be Brett Bloom and Marc Fischer, co-founders of Temporary Services; Lotefa Bartlett de Villarreal, representative for Good Samaritan Ministries; students Evan Altman, John Dodd, Aaron Green, Akio Kist-Okazaki, Gustavo Moura, Justin Scott, Elizabeth Sumner, Nathan Vance and Cole Watson, who were assigned the task of examining the role computing and information technology has played in regard to the issue of economic inequality in their Senior Project Seminar at Hope; Anna-Lisa Cox, an award-winning researcher, active historian, writer and lecturer on the history of race relations in the 19th-century Midwest; and Matt Grossmann, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research and associate professor of political science at Michigan State University.

The college’s Critical Issues Symposium was established to stimulate serious thinking about current issues, and to provide a forum in which the Holland community, students and faculty may all engage in discussion with experts. The symposium embodies commitment to open inquiry and civil discourse guided by the highest standards of intellectual integrity.  Hope cancels classes for a day to provide an opportunity for the event.

First held in 1980, the symposium has examined a variety of topics through the years, including “The Configuration of Peace in the Middle East,” “Energy,” “Lives in Transition: The Future of Marriage and Family,” “World Hunger,” “Lifeboat Earth: Decisions for Tomorrow,” “The Role of Media in American Culture,” “Feminism and Faith: Implications for Life,” “Race and Opportunity: Echoes of Brown v. Board of Education,” “Immigration: Shaping and Reshaping America,” “Global Health: From Catastrophe to Cure,” “Exploring Islam,” “Reconciliation: Hope in a Divided World,” “Technology and the Future of Being Human,” and “Engaging the Middle East: Exploring Contemporary Changes.”

Dimnent Memorial Chapel, the venue for the Tuesday, Sept. 27, keynote address, is located at 277 College Ave., at College Avenue and 12th Street.  The Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts, the venue for the Wednesday, Sept. 28, keynote address, is located at 221 Columbia Ave., between Ninth and 10th streets. Additional information, including the full schedule, locations and biographical sketches of the speakers, is available online.