Teas intended to incite discussions about spirituality

by Erin Ghere

An University tradition is beginning once again Thursday: faculty and graduate student teas.
The University Episcopal Center is kicking off its third year of monthly faculty/graduate student 4 p.m. teas to discuss faith and spirituality issues.
The center brings a different speaker to each gathering as a catalyst for discussion on a wide range of topics, said Elizabeth Kraatz, a long-time participant.
Thursday’s speaker will be Bill Malandra, the classic and near-eastern studies department chairman, with a presentation titled “People of Faith in the Academy.”
Each presentation lasts about 20 minutes, leaving more than an hour for discussion.
“It’s always interesting to see what direction the discussion takes,” said Kraatz, a nursing school assistant professor.
Topics this year will range from spirituality and the mind to a presentation by a psychologist titled “Were the Saints Mad?”
The attendance fluctuates during the academic year, Kraatz said, but eight to 12 is the status quo.
Kraatz said she was originally drawn to the program three years ago when it began and she was new to the University.
“When you come to a University, your ideal is a free exchange of ideas,” she said, “but you often become confined to your department and find it difficult to branch out.”
The group that congregates at the faculty and graduate student teas, on the other hand, come from a wide array of backgrounds, she said, making for lively and interesting discussion.
“Some have a strong interest in religion, others in humanities,” she said.
The teas are held the first Thursday of each month during the academic year from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the University Episcopal Center. For a list of presenters, go to www1.umn.edu/rac/uec/tea1999-2000.shtml or call 331-3552.

Erin Ghere covers University faculty and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3217.