Workshop-Retreat 2021 - Main Event page

Workshop Retreat

What is a Workshop-Retreat?

The Torrance Workshop-Retreat will consist of successive Zoom meetings over the space of a weekend. Breaks in between online sessions will allow time for reading presenter materials, meditation, and backchannel conversation. The Workshop-Retreat is designed for students and scholars, but will also interest pastors and lay people. 

Torrance Workshop-Retreats are different from other conferences. Rather than a typical conference, this event is a retreat, and a workshop. 

1. Retreat

Come join others in the Torrance tradition for a special weekend retreat of worship and prayer together. In addition to the opening address, which will set the tone for the weekend of doing our thinking "on our knees," the program features three retreat sessions, each lasting 30 minutes. In format, facilitators may combine, at their discretion, responsive readings, music, prayer, and a short homily. The retreat sessions will lead us in prayerful reflection, meditation and worship. The facilitators may provide PDFs in advance for responsive reading or thoughtful consideration.

2. Workshop

Are you ready to begin a new research project involving T. F. Torrance or the Torrance tradition? There’s no need to wait until you have finished a paper to benefit from the input, advice and feedback of current scholars. Rather than a typical conference, where presentations consist of polished papers, workshop sessions are designed to assist anyone with a new Torrance project, whether they are new to Torrance or experienced scholars or anywhere in between. Think of them as "brown-bag" discussions, if you like. In addition, "roundtable" discussions may examine some aspect of current scholarship or throw a spotlight on current scholars.


Workshop details

Except for roundtables, there will be three presenters per session, with 24 minutes for each project. Each researcher will present a project for up to 12 minutes, leaving 12 minutes for discussion. Each 12-minute presentation will consist of at least the three following components: 

  • a statement of the presenter’s overall research question
  • the concepts the researcher is exploring in relation to the research question, and 
  • the sources (both primary and secondary) that seem to be of key relevance to the project. 

Participants will provide Project PDFs describing their work, covering these points and additional details, drafts or narratives, depending on the stage of the project. Project PDFs will be available for registered participants to download and read before the event. Input during the session will be provided in a conversational manner, facilitated by the workshop session chair. 

After the presentations, each workshop session concludes with a 10-minute reflection by a session Commentator. Commentators share their impressions of key concepts, offer any tips or general guidance, note particularly useful sources (primary and secondary), or possible misconceptions, etc., related to the topics of that session.

Sessions are plenary in order to encourage the exchange of perspectives across various subspecialties, although sessions may be organized topically depending on the applications received.


Workshop Ethos

To better grasp the ethos of the Workshop, imagine it as a virtual seminar discussion held at mid-semester, when research is underway but well before the semester paper is ready to turn in. The presentation centers upon a research question, not necessarily yet an argument, as the question is emerging in a still exploratory phase of the project. Although the format is ideal for a graduate student in the early stages of a dissertation, it is also appropriate for experienced scholars embarking upon new projects. Workshop sessions provide an opportunity for presenters to receive feedback, pointers, and advice from participants, and to let others know about their current or emerging interests. The chief aim is to help researchers efficiently and effectively launch new projects. Another goal, particularly with the roundtables, is to promote future Torrance scholarship by providing geographically-dispersed students an opportunity to come together and encounter current work in a personal and relational conversation.

Imagine the conversations that might result from spending a weekend at a wilderness retreat center in the mountains together with others in the Torrance tradition. The ethos of plenary sessions, open to all registrants, provides a personal venue for initial queries to be made in an impromptu format, with sustained conversation over the course of the weekend with other Torrance researchers.

We hope that this ethos will give rise to informal "backchannel" communication. A participant's list (with email addresses at each participant's discretion) is provided (log-in required) to facilitate conversation during the weekend. Why not arrange your own Zoom breakfast, lunch, dinner, or happy hour between sessions?


Panel Discussion

The weekend will conclude with a panel discussion where the commentators, plus any members of the Torrance Fellowship Executive Board who are present, will reflect on common themes arising from the presentations and current trends in Torrance studies. They will identify areas where further study is needed, and offer general tips and advice for beginning researchers.


Asynchronous Access

In Le Livre du ciel et du monde (1377), the medieval natural philosopher and bishop Nicole Oresme composed a whimsical poem about priests who travel east and west in opposite directions around the globe. One experienced Easter while the other was still in Lent. Similarly for us today, the spherical shape of the Earth poses a dilemma for international virtual events.

Therefore, all sessions will be recorded for the sake of those in time zones far removed from US Central Time. Yet to preserve the spirit of free discussion and the special ethos of this event, links to the original videos will be accessible only to registered participants with a Fellowship Membership or a Guest Pass.

The Workshop-Retreat has a special character promoting impromptu discussion, more like a seminar course than a typical conference. The primary purpose of the original posting of private videos is not to create a permanent record, nor to inhibit impromptu questions and comments, but to provide access during the event so that every participant will be able to follow all of the sessions. 

Yet approximately two weeks after the event, although some private videos will be deleted, some videos will be made available to the public. Public posting of recorded sessions will be optional, subject to each presenter's wishes. When a private video is converted to a public video, discussion times after each presentation may be deleted, as this would not provide an obvious benefit and might constitute a hindrance to free and open discussion.

All videos, public and private, are posted on the Full Program page (log-in required). Public videos are posted on the Abbreviated Program page. Private videos will be deleted in two weeks; public videos will remain available. 

The Guest Pass will expire November 30, after the annual Fellowship keynote.


Organizers: Myk Habets, Brent Purkaple, Jenny Richards, Geordie Ziegler, Daniel Cameron, Kerry Magruder.