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CIS News for April 2017

News and Events from the Center for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union 

"Reverberating Echoes" Continues

Reverberating Echoes: Contemporary Art Inspired by Traditional Islamic Art, curated by Carol Bier (Visiting Scholar, Center for Islamic Studies), presents work by seven artists of diverse backgrounds, who share a common source of inspiration in Islamic visual culture. The exhibition continues through May 26 at the Doug Adams Gallery. 

GTU Opens New Collaborative Learning Space

The Graduate Theological Union was pleased to unveil its new Collaborative Learning Space on the first floor of the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library this spring. Thanks to a generous grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the room that has served as the GTU computer lab since 2001 has been remodeled as a flexible smart classroom and learning space, highlighted by an 84-inch touchscreen LCD panel.

Celebrating the Francisco J. Ayala Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences

The GTU and its newest addition, the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS), hosted a reception in February to celebrate a $2 million pledge from renowned scientist Dr. Francisco J. Ayala. This generous gift will double the endowment of CTNS, bringing it to over $4 million. In gratitude CTNS has been renamed the Francisco J. Ayala Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences.

Scholarship and Spirituality as Bridges

Dr. Jeffrey L. Richey (PhD, 2000), Professor of Religion and Asian Studies at Berea College in Kentucky, was selected as the GTU's 2016 Alum of the Year, and was honored at the GTU Alumni Reception at the annual meeting of AAR/SBL in November. We are pleased to share this article, adapted from Dr. Richey’s speech at that gathering, in which he reflects on the bridging power of spirituality and scholarship.

Making Memories, Taking Responsibility

Through her work at the GTU’s Center for Jewish Studies—and a surprising friendship--Lea Heitfeld is keeping cultural memory alive and helping shape a more hopeful future.

Lea Heitfeld has been in the news a lot recently. The granddaughter of Nazis, the 31-year-old MA student at the GTU’s Center for Jewish Studies is the unlikely housemate of Ben Stern, a 95-year-old Holocaust survivor. Their unusual friendship has led to interviews with national and international media including the Washington PostAl Jazeera, CBS Evening News, and Public Radio International. While the story of her living with Stern is indeed compelling, Heitfeld’s decision to pursue a degree in Jewish studies, her work at the GTU, and her plans for life after she graduates in May provide a context for understanding how this extraordinary partnership came to be an ordinary part of her life.

The View from the Dean's Office

Our new Dean reflects on the exceptional students, innovative scholarship, and bright future of the GTU.

On my first day of work at the GTU in January, I lifted all the window shades in the Dean’s office to let the light in and saw the panoramic view of Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay unfold before my eyes. I couldn’t believe anyone would lower the shades, ever, when there was such gorgeous scenery to enjoy. About an hour later I realized why previous GTU Deans had to lower at least some of the shades. The sunlight in the office is blinding, and the corner where my desk is located got very warm very quickly. I guess it is possible to have too much of a good thing! 

CJS Student and Her Housemate Make the News

The friendship between CJS student Lea Heitfeld and her housemate, Ben Stern, has been making national headlines lately. Ben is a 95-year-old Holocaust survivor, while Lea, the German-born granddaughter of Nazis, is pursuing an MA in Jewish Studies at the GTU’s Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies. Here are some links to recent video, audio, and written pieces about them.

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