2020 Torrance Virtual Workshop-Retreat
July 31 - August 2
Sponsor: The Thomas F. Torrance Theological Fellowship.
Organizers: Brent Purkaple, Geordie Ziegler, Daniel Cameron, Kerry Magruder.
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, pastors, and interested lay people as well as scholars.
Torrance Workshop-Retreats are different from other conferences. Rather than a typical conference, this event is a retreat, and a workshop.
Come join others in the Torrance tradition for a special weekend retreat of worship and prayer together. The weekend will include three retreat sessions, each lasting 30-45 minutes. In format, facilitators may combine, at their discretion, responsive readings, music, and prayer, with a short homily. The retreat sessions will lead us in prayerful reflection, meditation and worship related to the theme of theology and scholarship in the time of COVID-19. The facilitators may provide PDFs in advance for responsive reading or thoughtful consideration.
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.
There will be three presenters per session, with 20 minutes for each presentation. Each researcher will present a project for 8 minutes, leaving 12 minutes for discussion. Each 8-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.
The researcher may provide additional details, if desired, depending on the stage of the project. Input will then be provided in a conversational manner, facilitated by the workshop session chair.
After the three presentations, each workshop session will conclude with a 10-minute reflection by a session Commentator. Commentators will 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. Commentators include Gary Deddo, Myk Habets, Jerome Van Kuiken and Thomas A. Noble.
Up to four workshop sessions allow for up to 12 different presenters. Workshop 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.
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 is to promote future Torrance scholarship.
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 also give rise to informal "backchannel" communication. A participant's list with email addresses is provided to facilitate conversation during the weekend. Why not arrange your own Zoom breakfast, lunch, dinner, or happy hour between sessions?
The weekend will conclude with a panel discussion where several scholars will reflect on common themes arising from the presentations in light of current trends in Torrance scholarship. They will identify areas where further study is needed, and offer general tips and advice for beginning researchers.
The Workshop-Retreat has a special character promoting impromptu discussion, more like a seminar course than a typical conference. For this reason, recording the sessions on video would not provide an obvious benefit and might constitute a hindrance to free and open discussion. Yet, for the sake of those in time zones far removed from US Central Time, sessions will be captured on video. So, to preserve the spirit of free discussion and the special ethos of this event, links to the videos will be accessible only to participants. A password will be required. Downloading of the videos will not be authorized or permitted. All videos will be deleted 1 week after the conclusion of the Workshop-Retreat. The purpose of the 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.