Conference, “Digital Hope Re-imagined: Foundational Questions and Practical Strategies for Cultivating Dialogue and Civility in Local and Global Contexts”

Registration Available on April 1, 2022

Title: Digital Hope Re-imagined: Foundational Questions and Practical Strategies for Cultivating Dialogue and Civility in Local and Global Contexts (A DIALOGIC UNCONFERENCE)

Date and Time: Monday, June 27, 2022 | 11:30 am – 3:00 pm EDT

Presenters/Facilitators: Tim Muehlhoff, PhD, Professor of Communication, Biola University; Debra A. Schwinn, MD, President, Palm Beach Atlantic University; Stephanie Bennett, PhD, Professor of Communication and Media Ecology, Palm Beach Atlantic University; Dennis Smith, Former Presbyterian Church (USA) Regional Liaison, South America

Description: Our current global scene is one of ideological division, amplified by the grammar of web 2.0 technologies that promotes rapid fire messaging and self-aggrandizement with little reflection. Our times are characterized by the propagation of fake news and tribal rhetoric that divides rather than unifies. To this mix, Christians would suggest the presence of “post-truth” and “post-Christian” voices that seek to tear apart the very fabric of neighborly love. The Apostle Paul calls all Jesus followers to be filled with hope in times of cultural despair: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13, ESV)

But how can hope and peace be maintained in our current public sphere where sloganeering and demonizing runs unchecked? How can we speak truth in love in winsome ways with competing voices? What hope is there for Christians to be different as we digitally engage others?

This dialogic unconference invites a sub-ideological dialogue among participants that does not presume a particular, predetermined outcome. It provides a means of asking deeper questions about the human condition that pervades digital discourse. The unconference recognizes that if Christians do not seek to cultivate unifying communication, then newly emerging ideological conflicts will threaten to tear the remaining fabric of societal neighborliness.

This unconference will break new ground by including international voices. A round-table of Latin American communicators, each of them recognized for their academic work and commitment to building the common good in adverse circumstances, will describe their context and strategies and challenge participants to broaden their horizons.

Tim Muehlhoff (PhD, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) is Professor of Communication at Biola University where he teaches classes in conflict resolution, apologetics, gender, and family communication. For over 30 years he served with Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) in the campus ministry, short-term missions (Kenya, Russia, Lithuania), and with Keynote as a trainer for The Comm Lab—a center that trains Cru staff, pastors, and lay people in evangelistic speaking and apologetics. For the past 20 years Tim and his wife, Noreen, have been frequent speakers at Family Life Marriage Conferences. Tim currently is co-director of the Winsome Conviction Project which seeks to reintroduce civility and compassion into how we disagree in the public square. Tim is the co-host of the Winsome Conviction Podcast. His book Winsome Persuasion: Christian Influence in a Post-Christian World (with Biola University professor Rick Langer) received a merit award from Christianity Today’s 2018 Book of the Year Awards in the category of apologetics/evangelism. His newest book, Winsome Conviction: Disagreeing without Dividing the Church (with Rick Langer) explores conflict between fellow Christ-followers. Connect with Tim: www.timmuehlhoff.com.

Debra A. Schwinn (MD, Stanford University) became Palm Beach Atlantic (PBA) University’s ninth President on May 4, 2020. Previously she was Associate Vice President for Medical Affairs, Dean of the Carver College of Medicine, and Professor of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology and Biochemistry at the University of Iowa. Prior to those appointments, Dr. Schwinn served in senior leadership roles at the University of Washington and Duke University.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the College of Wooster in her native Ohio, Dr. Schwinn earned a medical degree from the Stanford University School of Medicine where she has also been honored as a distinguished alumnus.  A physician scientist and member of the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Schwinn’s laboratory was funded for 27 years by the National Institutes of Health.

Stephanie Bennett (PhD, Regent University) is Professor of Communication and Media Ecology at Palm Beach Atlantic University where for the last 17 years she has practiced an interdisciplinary approach to the classroom, integrating faith, culture, and communication within a contemplative frame. Along with a full-time appointment teaching courses in Interpersonal, Nonverbal, Civil Discourse and the Common Good and Communication Ethics, The Church in the Age of Entertainment and Music as Communication, Stephanie spent several years as University Fellow for Student Engagement and a decade as Associate Dean of the School of Communication and Media. Currently, she serves as Director of Wordship—a campus-wide initiative to advance the use of words as an act of worship and a way to nurture healing and reconciliation in the public square. Author of five books, including Within the Walls, a fictional trilogy about the future of community, her latest project is non-fiction and draws upon the dialectical relationship between speech and silence. Released in March 2022, Silence, Civility, and Sanity: Hope for Humanity in a Digital Age is published by Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield. Stephanie is committed to helping undergraduates navigate the relational, interpersonal, and ethical challenges in an evolving digital culture. She invites dialogue at [email protected].

Dennis Smith has served as a mission worker for the Presbyterian Church USA since 1977. He recently retired as regional liaison for South America. Dennis was based in Guatemala, training church and community leaders in radio and citizen journalism. He also taught theology of communication and was active in the local ecumenical movement. In the 1980s, he began to travel throughout the region and work with Latin American colleagues in social research on media, religion, and culture, as well as the role of media in the growth of new religious movements in Latin America. From 2008–2015, Dennis served as President of the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC), where he focused on promoting communication as a human right.

Registration Fee: $50.00

Registration Available on April 1, 2022