SAMPLE COURSES OF STUDY | Lux Summer Theological Institute for Youth

The Lux Institute at Monmouth College  

offers students the opportunity to immerse themselves in a challenging theological and interdisciplinary learning environment. Students supplement two daily courses in theology with a variety of workshops and co-curricular programs. Monmouth College students serve as co-learners and mentors to high school students throughout the two-week program. The Lux Institute focuses on alternating years between food security and environmental justice themes.

Sample Courses

Courses in Theology and Bible are taught daily by visiting doctoral students from universities and seminaries around the country.

Theology and Bible Courses from the 2019 program year, “A Place at the Table: Thinking Theologically about Hunger and Poverty” 

Course Title:  The Symbol of Bread in Scripture
Description: This class explores the symbolic nature of bread as it appears throughout the Old and New Testaments, with an eye toward asking how its various connotations might affect the ways that we think about and experience food and hunger. Students will discuss the notions of metaphor and symbol, and ask how metaphor impacts personal experience. Students will establish historical context for texts and closely read biblical texts, sometimes accompanied by selections from a commentary.

Course Title:  Theology and the Ethics of Food Insecurity
Description: This course examines a religious ethical response to the unjust distribution of natural resources and social power which results in poverty and food insecurity. Students will begin with an exploration of Christ’s teachings on the sacredness of life and what this means for our relationship to the flourishing of ourselves and our neighbors. Students will study various theological and ethical responses to the problems of inequity and human want. Students will also focus on the examination of the Christian duty to rebel against injustice and situate the cries of the most oppressed at the center of our moral reasoning.

Theology and Bible Courses from the 2018 program year, “Caring for Creation: Thinking Theologically about Ecology and Justice”

Course Title: God and Global Weirding: Reimagining Theology for the Anthropocene
Description: Humans have recently become the most powerful force on the planet. This is why scientists say that we now live in the Anthropocene, or ‘the human age.’ But we now know that our modern way of life dangerously impacts everything from the weather, oceans, land, and even life itself. This realization raises an urgent question: how should we now live and think in ways that are responsible to the Earth? This course will consider the possibility of ecologically responsible theologies – what we think about God, creation, Jesus, hope, prayer, the Bible, and more. Students will learn about some of the major environmental challenges of our time, such as climate change or ‘global weirding.’ Students will look at how the revolutionary ideas of several Christian eco-theologians might enable us to reimagine our own perspectives on faith.

Course Title: Liberating Creation: Theological Interpretations of the Environment and Humanity
Description: This course considers the human impact on the environment, and the ways in which social, political, and economic power determines the ways in which a particular community experiences the environmental crisis. Students will begin by considering the ways in which one’s social and geographic location shapes one’s understanding of God and the practice of theology. We will then explore the impacts of the environmental crisis on vulnerable populations, with particular attention to gender and race. Finally, we will consider how religious communities respond theologically and practically to the environmental crisis, and students will begin to think about ways in which their own communities can engage these issues.

Sample Interdisciplinary Workshops

Monmouth College Experimental Garden and Market Farm
Guided by students from the Garden Crew and their faculty mentors, Institute students visit the College’s experimental garden and market farm for an introduction to local and sustainable agriculture and an opportunity to plant, harvest, and experience first-hand the ways that stewardship of creation intersects with our faith.

Let’s Bake Bread!
Faculty from the chemistry department help students bake bread and make lunch in the College’s Nutrition Lab. Bread baked during the workshop is used during a special communion worship service.

Vocation Workshop and “Taking it Home” Strategy Building
What is a life for? How do we go home from here? Monmouth College faculty and staff help students process their Institute experiences in light of their individual and community commitments to vocation and social engagement. Students create an action plan to use the skills and education from their Lux Institute experience in the weeks and months following their departure.

Bayer Agricultural Learning Center
How are global corporations contributing to environmental sustainability and food security conversations? Students visit the Bayer international learning and education center based in Monmouth for an introduction to their efforts.

Beekeeping and Honey Production
Education professor Craig Vivian, the Monmouth College beekeeper, demonstrates the process of beekeeping and honey production at the campus garden. Students learn about the vital role bees play in our environment and food growth.

Plants and Caring for Creation
Students visit the Monmouth College Le Suer Nature Preserve for an introduction to botany, invasive species, ecology, and insect life.

Clay and Ceramics Workshop
Students work with ceramics faculty to learn about where clay comes from, how it has been used throughout history to preserve and serve food, and have a chance to throw a piece on the potter’s wheel or create a piece by hand.

The Art of Improv and Expression
Students attend improvisation or artistic expression workshops and use their gifts to create a masterpiece production to be performed at the conclusion of each Institute.

Interfaith Engagement
Students have attended programs with Interfaith Youth Core, Faith in Place, and attended services at a local mosque and synagogue.

Service Projects
Students have worked with Jamieson Community Center to stock the local food pantry, packed school supply kits for Church World Service, and helped plant and harvest at local gardens.