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Cultural Events

The Courage to Change

The Spring 2021 Cultural Season at Elmhurst University

Welcome to Elmhurst University’s Spring 2021 speaker series. The theme for the 2020-21 academic year is The Courage to Change: Reflection, Action and Resilience. Our theme is inspired by alumnus Reinhold Niebuhr’s revered Serenity Prayer. We hope you’ll join us for one or all of our thought-provoking lectures this spring, all to be offered virtually.

All of our cultural events are open to the public. Tickets are available for purchase here. Lectures and most other events are free for Elmhurst University students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Questions? Call (630) 617-5186 to leave a message, or email


Climate Change: Science, Religion and Public Policy

Arthur Petersen

Arthur Petersen’s work as scholar, researcher and adviser lives at the intersection of science and religion. He is a professor of science, technology and public policy at University College London, and is editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science.

The Niebuhr Lecture
Wednesday, April 21, 4:00 p.m.
Admission is free



Diversity: A Good Business Practice

Daymond John

Daymond John, co-star of ABC’s wildly popular “Shark Tank” series, founder and CEO of FUBU, and Presidential Ambassador of Global Entrepreneurship, is scheduled to help kick off Elmhurst University’s sesquicentennial-year Homecoming festivities.

The Roland Quest Lecture
Thursday, Sept. 23, 7:00 p.m.
Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel
Save the date and join us in September!

Autism—Helping Different Kinds of Minds Solve Problems

Temple Grandin

A professor of animal science, a pioneer in improving the welfare of farm animals, and an advocate for autism awareness and understanding, Temple Grandin has spoken to parents and teachers throughout the U.S. about her remarkable life and growing up with autism. She is the author of several books, including the New York Times bestseller Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior. 

The Roland Quest Lecture Series
Wednesday, April 14, 7:00 p.m.
Admission is $5

The Religious Literacy Project of Elmhurst University

Dr. Alice Hunt

Featuring Dr. Alice Hunt, executive director of the American Academy of Religion and former president of Chicago Theological Seminary. A biblical scholar with research interests in leadership development, Hunt is the recipient of an honorary degree from Elmhurst University.

Focus on Faith and Diversity
Tuesday, April 13, 4:00 p.m.
Admission is free

Moral Reckoning: Geographies of Goodness and Evil.

Rev. Dr. Stephen G. Ray Jr.

The Rev. Dr. Stephen G. Ray Jr. is president of Chicago Theological Seminary and of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. Seeking to understand the evil that is racism, Ray became a student of the Holocaust, focusing on the systematic murder of Jews by ordinary individuals in villages across Europe. A comparative analysis of lynchings in the U.S. led to his insight about a “moral geography” creating spaces of atrocity or, alternatively, goodness.

The Holocaust Service of Remembrance and Lecture
Sunday, April 11, 7:00 p.m.
Admission is free

A New Jewish Narrative

Michael Paley

For 20 years, Rabbi Michael Paley served as the scholar in residence and director of the Jewish Resource Center of the UJA-Federation of New York, the largest local Jewish philanthropy in the world. He also served for many years as the chaplain at Columbia University, and as the Jewish chaplain at Dartmouth College. Recently retired, Rabbi Paley continues his work in Eastern Europe.

The Abraham Joshua Heschel Lecture
Wednesday, April 7, 4:00 p.m.
Admission is free

Faith and Politics: My Years with Barack Obama and Joe Biden

Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins

A conversation with the Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins, national director of interfaith outreach for the Democratic National Committee and senior vice president at Union Theological Seminary.

Focus on Faith and Diversity
Monday, March 15, 7:00 p.m.
Admission is free

The State of Race in America

Rev. Dr. Brad R. Braxton

The Rev. Dr. Brad R. Braxton is the chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at St. Luke’s School in New York City, and curator for the Living Religions in 21st Century America program at the 2022 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Focus on Faith and Diversity
Thursday, March 11, 4:00 p.m.
Admission is free

In Pursuit of Justice: Womanist Non-Binary Perspectives About Intersectionality, Trauma, Lament and Hope

Linda Thomas

A professor of theology and anthropology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Linda Thomas’ academic interests focus on cultural anthropology and its intersection with theology, ethics, and African-American and gender studies. Embodying a womanist perspective, Thomas aims to teach women and men to think critically and pursue social justice in a wide variety of contexts.

The Genevieve Staudt Intercultural Lecture
Wednesday, March 10, 4:00 p.m.
Admission is free

The Right to Food: How Public Policy Impacts Hunger

Rev. Nancy Neal

Featuring the Rev. Nancy Neal, director of the Church Relations Department at Bread for the World, a Christian advocacy organization that works for policy changes to end hunger.

Focus on Faith and Diversity
Monday, March 8, 4:00 p.m.
Admission is free

Making Good Trouble: Dr. King’s Smallest Freedom Fighter

Sheyann Webb-Christburg

Sheyann Webb-Christburg has built a lifelong career as a voice for hope, justice and humanitarianism. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. named her the “Smallest Freedom Fighter” for her participation, at the age of 9, in the “Bloody Sunday” voter registration march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., in 1965. She has spent her life ever since as a civil rights activist, author and youth advocate, using her stories of courage and overcoming adversity to inspire others.

The Elmhurst University Teach-In
Thursday, Feb. 25, 11:45 a.m.
Keynote, followed by optional breakout sessions on fighting racism and organizing for change.
Admission is free

Join us for other ‘Make Good Trouble’ week events from Feb. 23–24. 

After the Elections: Our Common Work as a Society

Rev. Traci Blackmon

A conversation with United Church of Christ Visiting Scholar the Rev. Traci Blackmon, who serves as the UCC associate general minister of justice and local church ministries.

Focus on Faith and Diversity
Tuesday, Feb. 23, 7:00 p.m.
Admission is free

Painful Past or Present Politics: An Examination of My Own Life in a Racially Polarized Chicago 

Sherry Williams          

Sherry Williams is the founder and president of the Bronzeville/Black Chicagoan Historical Society, and an activist committed to making green space more accessible to minoritized people living on Chicago’s South Side. An avid naturalist who shares history through her projects, Williams developed a bird oasis at the Pullman State Historic Site, and an African heritage garden and migratory bird oasis at the Stephen Douglas Tomb Site in Bronzeville.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Intercultural Lecture
Wednesday, Feb. 17, 4:00 p.m.
Admission is free

“May We Dream and Build a Future”: Cardinal Joseph Bernardin After 25 Years

Steven Millies

Steven Millies is the director of the Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, whose programs continue Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s ministry of reconciliation, interreligious dialogue, and the search for common ground in the church and the world. An associate professor of public theology, Millies explores the Catholic Church’s relationship to politics with a perspective that embraces theology, history, law, ethics, sociology and political theory.

The Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Lecture
Thursday, Feb. 11, 7:30 p.m.
Admission is free

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