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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Philosophy & Religion Programs

Lecture/Seminar

Great Gothic Cathedrals of the High Middle Ages: Awe, Wonder, and Imagination

Thursday, August 11, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

Explore the fascinating connections between local medieval communities and the construction of great Gothic monuments to faith, believed to be the purest expression of shared life with historian Cheryl White. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar

The Age of Confucius

Monday, August 22, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Historian Justin M. Jacobs analyzes the exciting intellectual ferment of the age of Confucius and the thinkers who followed in his footsteps during the Warring States era: Mozi, Mencius, Zhuangzi, Xunzi, and Han Feizi. The lively exchange of ideas among these philosophers helped define Chinese civilization itself and set the stage for the next two thousand years of dynasties and empires.

Lecture/Seminar

The Dome of the Rock

Thursday, September 22, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET

Dominating the skyline of Jerusalem for more than 1,300 years, the Dome of the Rock is both a sacred Islamic shrine and an iconic symbol of the Holy City. What messages did the artists who built it enshrine here, and what does this World Heritage Site have to say to us today? Barbara Boehm, curator emerita of the Met Cloisters explores this remarkable place, including its history, mosaics, and inscriptions, and its enduring meaning. (World Art History Certificate elective, 1/2 credit)

Lecture/Seminar

Philosophy in the Middle Ages: A Harmony of Faith and Reason

Saturday, October 1, 2022 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

The medieval period in Western thought, once viewed disparagingly by scholars as the Dark Ages, has come to be recognized as a time of rich philosophic investigation and lively debate. Gregory T. Doolan, associate professor of philosophy at The Catholic University of America, explores the work of notable Christian, Muslim, and Jewish thinkers from the major periods of medieval philosophy.

Tour

Monuments and Memory

Saturday, October 1, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET

Join staff members of the new Capital Jewish Museum on a walking tour that explores the connection between Washington’s monuments and collective memory. Beginning at the museum, move through the heart of the historic downtown Jewish community to visit monuments and memorials connected to local and international Jewish history.

Lecture/Seminar

Is God a Mathematician?

Thursday, October 13, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET

From ancient times to the present scientists and philosophers have marveled at how such a seemingly abstract discipline as mathematics, which appears to have been a product of human thought, could so perfectly explain the natural world. In a fascinating presentation, astrophysicist Mario Livio explores why mathematics is a powerful lens through which to examine the cosmos.

Lecture/Seminar

Homer's Iliad and Odyssey: Enduring Lessons from Ancient Classics

Thursday, October 13, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. ET

Homer’s masterpieces the Iliad and Odyssey helped the ancient Greeks understand, through oral recitation, the tribulations of their world. Joseph Luzzi, a professor of comparative literature at Bard College, explores the idea that we can also use these epics to make sense of some of the greatest cultural, political, and social problems we face today.

Tour

Monuments and Memory

Friday, October 14, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET

Join staff members of the new Capital Jewish Museum on a walking tour that explores the connection between Washington’s monuments and collective memory. Beginning at the museum, move through the heart of the historic downtown Jewish community to visit monuments and memorials connected to local and international Jewish history.

Tour

Monuments and Memory

Sunday, October 23, 2022 - 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET

Join staff members of the new Capital Jewish Museum on a walking tour that explores the connection between Washington’s monuments and collective memory. Beginning at the museum, move through the heart of the historic downtown Jewish community to visit monuments and memorials connected to local and international Jewish history.

Course

Medieval History Through Artists’ Eyes

Tuesday, October 25, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET

Dazzling early Christian mosaics, sumptuous Carolingian illuminated manuscripts, sculpted Romanesque church facades, and soaring Gothic cathedrals give artistic expression to an astonishing variety of beliefs and practices linked by a vision of leading the human spirit toward eternal life. Art historian Judy Scott Feldman examines the art of the thousand-year period between classical antiquity and the Renaissance and its relationship to a diverse society infused with faith and spirituality. (World Art History Certificate core course, 1 credit)

Lecture/Seminar

Confucianism and Daoism

Tuesday, October 25, 2022 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET

Confucianism and Daoism (Taoism), the two major indigenous religions of China, present worldviews that contrast not only with Western thought, but with each other. Charles Jones, a professor of religion and culture at Catholic University of America, explores the basic teachings of the two traditions and their strategies for coexistence throughout Chinese history.

Lecture/Seminar

Death and Beyond: Comparative Reflections on World Religious Traditions

Saturday, November 19, 2022 - 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET

Issues of death, dying, and the meaning of life—and the afterlife—hold key places in the belief systems of the major religious traditions of the world. Graham M. Schweig, a professor of philosophy and religions at Christopher Newport University and Graduate Theological Union, surveys differing visions of these themes from a variety of Eastern and Western cultural perspectives.