September 19, 2017 | Matt Kucinski


Kevin Olusola, a beatboxing member of the Grammy-winning vocal quintet Pentatonix, will speak and perform at the January Series on Wednesday, January 17, 2018.

The 2018 edition of Calvin College’s award-winning January Series features one of the most influential scientific minds, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a New York Times best-selling author and a former technology adviser to the White House.

It also features an eye witnesses’ account to the creation of a Broadway show that’s become a cultural phenomenon and a performance by a member of a musical group that’s amassed two billion views on its YouTube channel.

From Wednesday, Jan. 3, through Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, attendees will learn from a wide range of experts leading some of the nation’s and world’s most pivotal and timely discussions. The 15 speakers will provide insight on issues like race in America, technology and national security, biowaste and global poverty, among many others.

A few of the featured presenters: Katherine Boo, a staff writer for The New Yorker whose work has been honored by a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant and Pulitzer Prize; Jeremy McCarter, co-author of Hamilton: The Revolution who witnessed the Broadway show’s journey from concept to cultural phenomenon; and Kevin Olusola, who is best known as the beatboxing member of the Grammy-winning vocal quintet Pentatonix.

“Each year I purposely pull together a lineup that is eclectic so that there is a wide variety of timely topics on the series,” said Kristi Potter, director of the January Series. “But this year as I reflected on what was happening in the news and what conversations would be good to have on the series in 2018, I felt a strong need to bring positive and encouraging stories. So as always, we will hear from speakers on a number of difficult topics like poverty, racism, pollution, restorative justice and dementia, but we will also hear stories of how we can make a difference in the world with our influence, our power, our money or even our mindset.”

As Potter goes about her work of selecting a lineup of speakers each year, she says she doesn’t typically start with a theme, but every year one usually emerges. One thing she hopes happens after each installment though is that attendees both spend time thinking deeply about these challenging topics, but then feel inspired to move to action.

“I think this year’s lineup reminds us to have hope that God is in control and there are good things happening in the world and good people leading this work,” said Potter. “And we can be a part of it.”

John Swinton will close out the 2018 January Series with his talk: "Becoming Friends of Time: Disability, Timefulness, and Gentle Discipleship." His talk is also the Stob Lecture, an annual lecture co-sponsored by Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary in honor of philosophy professor emeritus Dr. Henry J. Stob (1908-1996). Swinton is a Scottish theologian, former psychiatric nurse, and the founder of the University of Aberdeen's Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability.

The January Series runs from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. EST Monday through Friday in the Covenant Fine Arts Center on Calvin’s campus. And, the series is also available in more than 50 cities throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. In 2017, nearly 70,000 people watched the series live between on-campus, remote sites and livestream.

Katherine Boo: Tuesday, January 16

Jeremy McCarter: Thursday, January 18

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