Newman Summer Symposium focuses on Catholic Intellectual Tradition, Newman Studies Program

Jul 16, 2015

In early August, Newman University will host the 2015 fifth-annual Summer Symposium for Newman faculty.

The themes for this year’s symposium are the Catholic Intellectual Tradition (CIT) and the Newman Studies Program (NSP). The five-day symposium will be held from Aug. 3 to Aug. 7. It is offered to Newman faculty members who are teaching capstone-level NSP courses, although some lectures will be open to the public.

Every year, a topic is selected for the symposium that corresponds to “The Creative Spirit,” “The Human Story,” “The Universe We Live In,” or “The Quest for Meaning” – all facets of the NSP, the university’s unique approach to the core curriculum that every undergraduate student must fulfill to receive a bachelor’s degree. This year the topic is “Earth Stewardship,” which relates to “The Universe We Live In.” Attendees will have the opportunity to hear guest speakers from the academic and Wichita communities talk about the topic through lectures and panel discussions.

Newman Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Austin, Ph.D., who is involved with the planning and organization of the summer symposiums, explained that the the CIT is, “A very broad term, representing 2,000 years of Catholic philosophy and theology. [CIT] forms the basis of the Newman Studies Program and of all Catholic universities that, like Newman, are direct results of this tradition.”

Though the lectures and presentations, attendees will gain insights into how to use various aspects of “Earth Stewardship” as a means to promote concepts and values of the CIT and the NSP.

The two guest speakers for this year’s symposium will be Dawn M. Nothwehr, OSF, Ph.D., and Mark Potosnak, Ph.D. Both come with experience and knowledge to discuss climate change and other issues regarding “Earth Stewardship.”


Nothwehr is a faculty member of the Catholic Theological Union (CTU), where she holds the Erica and Harry John Family Chair of Catholic Theological Ethics. She holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from Marquette University. Nothwehr is a board member of the Catholic Theology Society of America, and an author and editor of books and journals. She is currently the co-editor of the CTU journal, The New Theology Review.


Potosnak is an associate professor of Environmental Science and Studies at DePaul University, where he teaches science courses on subjects such as environmental science, the Earth, global climate change, and many others. He is a member of the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, and Sigma Xi, and has published much of his original research.

Austin noted that the “Earth Stewardship” theme will be used in future NSP courses, although probably not in the 2015-16 academic year, as there is usually a long lead time for NSP courses.

Below is a schedule of lectures and other symposium events.

For more information on Nothwehr, see her biography on the CTU’s webpage.

To see some of Potosnak’s research, visit

Schedule for 2015 CIT/NSP Summer Symposium

Theme:  The Universe We Live In; August 3 to August 7, 2015

Roths Alumni Center 

Monday, August 3, 2015

8:30 – 8:45 Gathering of all participants; coffee and water available daily

8:45 – 9:30 Introduction to Symposium, Goals, Tasks   (M. Austin/C. Rohrbach)

9:30 – 10:00 Initial Course Partners session (M. Austin)

10:00 – 10:15 Break

10:15 – 11:30 What Is Catholic Intellectual Tradition (CIT)?    (Bo Bonner)

11:30 –12:30 Lunch

12:30 – 3:00 Climate Change Game (Kelly McFall)

3:00 – 3:15 Break

3:15 – 4:30 Course Partners Planning

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

8:30 – 10:30   Climate Change Game (K. McFall)

10:30 –10:45 Break

10:45 –12:00 Dawn M. Nothwehr, OSF, Ph.D.  “Creation:  An Exposé of Wonder”

12:00 –1:00 Lunch

1:00 –2:30 Dawn M. Nothwehr, OSF, Ph.D.  “Catholic Ecotheology, Environmental Ethics, & the Sciences:  A Conversation”

2:30 – 2:45 Break

2:45 – 4:30 Course Partners Planning

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

8:30 – 9:30 Course Partners Planning

9:30 – 10:45 Dr. Nothwehr and Dr. Potosnak.  Engaging the Catholic Intellectual Tradition within the Interdisciplinary Course:  Care for the Earth:  Ethics and the Environment”

10:45 – 11:00 Break

11:00 –12:00 Panel:  Earth Stewardship Issues (Sandy Bequette, facilitator)

Panelists:  Dawn Nothwehr, Mark Potosnak, Surendra Singh, Ph.D., Sonia Bontrager

12:00 –1:00 Lunch

1:00 –2:30 Dr. Nothwehr and Dr. Potosnak:  “Using the Papal Encyclical on Ecology to Engage Students Inside and Outside the Classroom.”

2:30 – 2:45 Break

2:45 – 4:00 Book Discussion – E. O. Wilson.  The Creation. (Bryan Dietrich, Discussion Leader)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

8:30 – 10:15 Course Partners Planning

10:15 –10:30Break

10:30 –12:00 Mark Potosnak, Ph.D.  “Communicating Climate Change:  Lessons from Communications Studies”

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00 –2:45 Panel:  Pearls of Newman Studies Program (NSP).  Amelia Havenridge, Facilitator.

Panelists:  Jill Fort, Cheryl Golden, Jane Weilert

2:45 – 3:00 Break

3:00 – 4:30 Mark Potosnak, Ph.D. “Teaching Earth System Science to All:  A Core Course for Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science Students”

Friday, August 7, 2015

8:30 –10:00 Panel:  Ways to Include CIT in Your Discipline’s Courses.  John Walker, Facilitator

Panelists:  Mike Duxler, Susan Crane-Laracuente,Vicki Bergkamp, ASC

10:00 – 10:15 Break

10:15 –12:00 Course partners present NSP courses

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch

1:00 – 3:00 Course partners present NSP courses

3:00 Wrap Up