A Call for Proposals from the Task Force on Human Sexuality

Press Release from the Task Force on Human Sexuality

Eastern Community –

In the face of new understandings and historical dynamics, and because scripture tells us we are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” President Duffett has called a task force to plan for campus-wide conversation on human sexuality “in all its facets” from historical, Biblical, theological, philosophical, sociological, and experiential points of view.

We are planning a two-tiered approach to our mission: 1. Structuring intentional conversations within like groups (faculty with faculty, students with students, etc.) and 2. Planning for all-campus events that focus on particular sexuality issues to stimulate thinking, broaden understanding of these complex subject matters, and deepen awareness of what it means to live as people of faith.

In terms of the latter, the task force cannot do their planning without you. So we have established guidelines for events that can fulfill the mandate, and are now asking departments, programs, clubs, institutes, and individuals to submit proposals for gatherings that engage one or more of the following areas, or an area we have overlooked. In the first round of proposals, we are asking you to address the areas that we have designated as foundational.

  • What does it mean for us corporately and personally to have this conversation?
  • The languages of sexuality (biblical, social, scientific)
  • The nature and purpose of sex
  • The nature and purpose of marriage
  • Issues surrounding procreation (e.g. “natural” childbirth, infertility, surrogacy)
  • What it feels like to be adult and single in a coupled world; to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender in a majority heterosexual world
  • Knowing the content and history of Eastern’s sexual policies
  • Knowing what other CCCU schools are discussing and debating
  • Living with difference in a Christian institution

Subsequently, we will be asking for proposals on the following areas of applied sexual ethics, so be thinking ahead:

  • Sex outside of marriage
  • Issues surrounding contraception
  • The meaning of divorce
  • Faith-based arguments for and against same-sex marriage
  • Issues surrounding those who do not fit into sex and gender binaries
  • Asexuality and celibacy in a sexualized world
  • Issues of privacy: To what extent do others have a right to know about and monitor sexual choices?
  • Causes and effects of pornography
  • Sexual harassment and coercion

Events can include lectures, debates, forums, film screenings, book discussions, shared narratives, discussions over lunch/dinner, dramatic performances. Be creative, but make sure the style of your event complements the content and that open honest exchange is the goal. In all proposals, it is important to remember that the community’s ultimate charge from Dr. Duffett is to discern “what we should be and become as a Christian university.”

Guidelines for proposals are simple:

  • The event must have a defined host (group or individual) and facilitator
  • The event must be open to the whole Eastern community (students, alumni, faculty, administration, staff, board)
  • There must be a substantial Q&A or discussion time
  • Attendees must be made aware of the “guidelines for respectful conversation”
  • No texting will be admitted during the event

To submit a proposal, include:

  • The topic, with a synopsis of content and format
  • Your title for the event
  • The name of the sponsoring group/individual, including contact information
  • The name of the facilitator
  • The amount of time you will need
  • The time of day that is best suited for this event
  • The points of view you will be relying on the most heavily (as in historical, biblical, theological, philosophical, psychological, sociological, experiential)
  • A budget for any expenses you foresee
  • How soon you can present this vent (Is it ready to go or do you need research and preparation time?)

Send your proposal to dialogue@eastern.edu.

We will be soliciting proposals on the first group of topics through the month of November. The conversations on human sexuality will begin in earnest second semester, although we know and celebrate that folks are already talking, including the members of the task force as we seek to know one another more fully.

Book suggestions: In hopes of gathering an evocative bibliography, we also invite suggestions for insightful books, blogs, and articles that address the issues we have identified. We are especially interested in writings from a faith-based perspective. Please send us your suggestions, with a short review of each piece. Answer the question of why you think a particular piece is worth reading and send your suggestions to dialogue@eastern.edu.

2015 can be a time of lively exchange, deep learning and spiritual growth, a time when the desires and concerns of the community are heard and challenged with curiosity and grace. We will be bringing in some experts, but also teaching and engaging each other, both formally and informally. Toward these ends, please hold this project in prayer. The task force looks forward to hearing your ideas and plans.

Co chairs: Chris Hall and Betsy Morgan

Members: Drick Boyd, Bettie Ann Brigham, Phil Cary, Diane Chen, Sharon Gramby-Sobukwe, Efram Harkins, Walt Huddell (ex officio), Hailey McDowell, Landi Turner.

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