by Clem Boyd
Cedarville University associate professor of communication Dr. Andrew Harris was tracking closely with the guest speaker’s message at the university in 2017. He was feeling challenged by Scott Klusendorf, president of the Life Training Institute, who was expressing a pro-life message that exposed gaps in Harris’ way of thinking.
“He was making arguments that I should have thought through as a communication professor who is pro-life,” Harris said. “I realized, if I haven’t thought through these matters, then my students haven’t either.”
This humbling revelation became the impetus for the Defending Life Summer Institute (DLSI), which will be held for the first time this summer at Cedarville. The institute will offer two three-credit communication courses that can be taken for undergraduate credit or as continuing education credit and are open to everyone from dual enrollment high school students to lifelong professionals in the pro-life field.
The first course will be offered by Klusendorf, who will teach “Rhetoric of Abortion Ethics” from June 13-17, 2022. The next class is “Public Advocacy in Bioethics” from June 20-24, taught by Dr. Marc Newman, president of Speaker For Life, a training firm that equips pro-life advocates nationwide with public speaking skills.
The courses begin May 9 with an online component. Registrants should complete the required reading for the course online from May 9 to June 10, and a final project is due in each course by August 12. Registration is open until May 2. Sign up at cedarville.edu/defendinglife.
Continuing education tuition is $599 for each class; $555 per course for dual enrollment students; and $999 for undergraduate students. Housing and meals are provided at a separate cost.
For dual enrollment and undergraduate students, the courses can be completed as part of the advocacy communication concentration available at Cedarville within the Bachelor of Arts in communication program. Advocacy can include a broad array of topics, including pro-life, family, or intercultural, among others.
“We are one of two evangelical schools I know of that has an advocacy communication program,” Harris said. “Cedarville is the only place I know of offering regionally accredited classes in pro-life advocacy. For an aspiring pro-life advocate, how could you ask for anything more?”
But what about Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the case currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court that could potentially overturn Roe v. Wade?
“We don’t know which way the Dobbs case is going to go,” Harris explained. “But no matter which way it goes, our job is not over. If Roe v. Wade would be overturned, and everything was thrown back to the states, then there will be 50 battles to fight. And if abortion is abolished in all 50 states, people will continue having babies. What will we do with a population of unwanted children? We will need to address the necessity of adoption in the post-Roe era.
“Anyone who takes these classes will have work for their entire careers. We will never run out of our need for a pro-life voice.”
While the information contained in the DLSI courses is crucial to the pro-life cause, students will find the one-week in-person intensive sessions valuable for another reason.
“Pro-life advocacy is important but hard work,” Harris said. “We need support from one another. Through the Defending Life Summer Institute classes, you get to come on campus, meet your professors and fellow students, and realize there are other people like you. This is about creating a network that will help support you in this very difficult work. Our hope is the people you will meet in classes will become lifelong colleagues for you.”
For more information, visit cedarville.edu/defendinglife or write Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,550 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including the Bachelor of Arts in communication, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit cedarville.edu.