A Meeting of Moravian Minds

"There aren't that many opportunities for faculty to interact in an academic sense," says Heikki Lempa, assistant professor of history. "And I think this is one venue to do that." He’s talking about the Moravian Workshops, faculty-led discussion groups that meet several times a semester for dialog on set topics. In the '06-'07 academic year, workshops on two topics are running concurrently: Religion and Violence, organized by Daniel Jasper, assistant professor of sociology, and Emotions, organized by Lempa. Past topics have included artificial intelligence, the body, risks, Moravian educational tradition, and the social impact of science.

The workshops provide a casual atmosphere for scholarly conversation, says Lempa, with a short introduction of the topic followed by open discussion. A key factor that makes the workshops successful, he adds, is that they examine the topic through multiple disciplines, usually by drawing on the research of Moravian faculty or administration members. In the coming months, for example, the Workshop on Emotions will feature Joanne McKeown, associate professor of French, leading a discussion on the role of language in talking about emotion and trauma. Professor of psychology Dana Dunn will speak on the inability of people to accurately predict their own feelings. Cecilia Fox, assistant professor of biology, will direct a session on the brain mechanisms that underlie emotions. "Each person brings his or her own background and experiences to the workshops," says Lempa. "How a historian reads a biological text, for example, is quite interesting to see."

The next Workshop on Emotions is scheduled for February 13, 4:00 p.m., in the Air Products Room of the Haupert Union Building. Texts to be discussed at the workshops are available at 206 Comenius Hall.