Program Offerings

Learning about cultural differences has never been more important. Many of today’s headlines focus on the misunderstandings and confusion we have about people different from ourselves. Yet most people are not aware of their own cultural assumptions and beliefs. Like fish who don’t know they are swimming in water, most people don’t realize how great a role culture plays in how they encounter the world.

Rebecca Crichton designed and delivered over 50 interactive sessions that increased cultural competence and multicultural understanding for Boeing employees and managers.

Sociology and Anthropology with Mariana Markova, PhD:

Life Stories from Russians Before and After the Fall of Communism

Money and Magic Dr. Markova collected life stories of ordinary Russian people caught in extraordinary times: the fall of communism followed by economic chaos. Through the story of Alexie, she shares aspects of growing up and living in a communist society in Russia, showing how people’s unique experiences are an important part of Russian history.

Cinderella Told Backward Markova tells the life story of an ordinary Russian woman, who described her story as ‘Cinderella told backward.’ The talk will discuss how the dreams of the Soviet women changed with the fall of communism and why it was possible for them to feel like Cinderella before, but not after it.

Excavate Your Own Life Story: 10 Questions Anthropologists Ask Conversations about ‘the past’ are important for understanding your own life story as the historian and cultural translator for your family and others. Markova discusses how it is not only about ‘what happened to you,’ but about putting your personal life into the historical and cultural context of the times you’ve lived through.

Mariana Markova, PhD, is a freelance researcher and personal historian. Born in Bulgaria and raised in Russia, she worked for Doctors Without Borders, the UN, and several major international organizations before coming to the United States. She earned her PhD in anthropology and has taught classes at several Seattle colleges.

Comparative Religion Programs with David E. Smith, PhD 

Mass of Confusion or World of Opportunity? Similarities and Differences in World Religions Professor David Smith compares and discusses some of the central beliefs of Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism—the three largest religions—and interpretations of the similarities and differences.  What do these three religions teach about God and the spiritual life?  What should we make of the common ground and the diversity of perspective?

From Fundamentalist to Philosopher of Religion – A Faith Journey Raised in an ultra-conservative Christian Fundamentalist home, Professor Smith grew increasingly curious about his own and others’ religions.

Moral Theories & the Ethics of Violence Professor Smith discusses the complexities of topics that include war, euthanasia, and abortion, and connects these with several major competing moral theories that are in circulation today.

Dr. David E. Smith received an MA in philosophy of religion before earning his PhD in religious studies at Temple University in Philadelphia. For the past 18 years, he has taught philosophy and religious studies at several colleges and universities. He has also published widely in these areas.

Health and Well-Being

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