Acton University 2016 has come and gone. Where did the time go? More than 1,000 individuals from 54 countries came to Grand Rapids for three and a half days of learning and networking on what it takes to create and sustain a free and virtuous society. This year we had 80 faculty and 980 students, including 385 Acton University alumni and 278 international participants. Attendees experienced high-quality plenaries from speakers including Senegalese entrepreneur Magatte Wade; 2002 Nobel Prize Winner in Economics Vernon Smith; and Acton’s president and co-founder Robert Sirico. This year’s event also included special programming featuring Poverty, Inc., our recently released documentary. We are now catching our breath, but are excited for those who participated to return to their spheres of influence to integrate their new found knowledge.
We were grateful for the opportunity to host the Oikonomia Network in the Acton building for their annual breakfast during Acton University. Attendees heard presentations from Chris Armstrong, Bradford Wilcox and Anthony Bradley, saw videos of past TED-style talks, and provided input on Oikonomia Network resources. Please be sure to learn more about these lectures and check them out online.
On a logistical note from Acton University, we are processing payments for Oikonomia Fellows over the next 4-6 weeks and arranging for the shipment of your resource kits. If you attended the conference as an Oikonomia Fellow, lease make sure to submit all your receipts and payment form. Also, please send me your address if you have moved since you applied for Acton University. Many individuals, organizations, and educational institutions have used these products to present the important message of whole-life discipleship, fruitful work and economic wisdom, and we relish your feedback on the resources we could include in future years.
With Acton University 2016 over, what are our plans for the future?
For the Life of the World has been intensely popular with churches and educational institutions around the world. We estimate 1,000,000 people have viewed the film series and that number grows daily. Yet Acton recognizes there are many untapped opportunities to connect educational institutions and churches with our books, materials, and curricula. We plan to systematically contact organizations within our network as well as those outside, identify the resources they have already used and the resources they need, and connect existing materials with those needs. There are other materials Acton has produced that serve as follow-up resources including Our Great Exchange, PovertyCure and the primers commissioned for different evangelical traditions.
Acton is in the midst of putting together a new team for programs and evangelical outreach. The next few months will be spent strategizing, and we are excited about the potential expanded outreach to new networks. Paul Bonicelli is our new director of programs. Paul comes from Regent University where he served as professor in the Robertson School of Government. Previously, he served as executive vice president at Regent University, provost at Houston Baptist University, and dean of academic affairs at Patrick Henry College. Bonicelli holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Tennessee, an M.A. in Public Policy from Regent University, and a B.A. in English from the University of Memphis. Also joining Acton’s staff are Trey Dimsdale as director of program outreach and Dan Churchwell as associate director of program outreach. These new roles will help to grow and engage Acton’s evangelical network, promoting the free and virtuous society in evangelical spaces. Click here to read the full press release.
Acton Institute hosts programming throughout the year through our Acton Lecture Series. Started in 1991, the Acton Lecture Series began as a service to the local community. Through the series, the Institute seeks to bring knowledgeable and thought-provoking speakers to the area, providing our local audience the opportunity to interact with prominent thinkers on issues of faith and freedom. If you are ever in Grand Rapids, we would like to welcome you as our guest for any of the lectures.