COVID update: The State of Oregon has reached the 70% adult vaccination level. As a result, the governor has said that there will be no more statewide mask mandates in most settings, no required capacity limits, and no required physical distancing. Gutenberg will therefore host this year’s Summer Institute without any COVID  restrictions. Anyone who chooses is, of course, welcome to wear a mask or take other precautions. Please contact us if you have health requests.

Summer Institute is an enjoyable and informative time to experience Gutenberg by sharing meals, discussing the works of influential thinkers, and listening to speakers from the Gutenberg community. We hope you can join us for Summer Institute 2021 on July 29-31!

The Meaning of the City: Rebellion and Redemption

They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name.” (Genesis 11:4)

For many of us, the city is the water we swim in: having grown up and lived our lives in an urban environment, we take it for granted. This summer, we will explore the nature of the city from both spiritual and material perspectives. How does urbanity affect our core assumptions about life and God? Does it help or impede our walk of faith? And most importantly, how can we live a life of obedience in an urban context? To aid us on our journey, we will be reading excerpts from biblical authors, Augustine, Lewis Mumford, and Jacques Ellul, all of whom offer penetrating insights into the matter, including the surprising claim that cities have a spiritual aspect we should not ignore. Come join us at Summer Institute 2021 to study The Meaning of the City.

Format: Lectures & Discussions

Gutenberg College Summer Institutes are an opportunity to explore a topic while getting some of the “Gutenberg” experience. That is, we discuss readings from important works in our culture and also listen to talks related to the topic. The presenters/discussion leaders are listed below. A reading packet (PDF) will be emailed to participants.

Chris Swanson

Chris SwansonLearn More

The Spiritual Significance of the City

The city plays a prominent role in God’s purposes. From the founding of the first city in Genesis 4 to the New Jerusalem in Revelation, the relationship between God and man is revealed throughout the pages of the Bible by man’s attitude toward the city. Chris Swanson will explore Ellul’s take on how cities, ancient and modern, represent man’s rebellion and desire for happiness apart from God.

Eliot Grasso

Eliot GrassoLearn More

City Life

In the spring of AD 330, Emperor Constantine founded a new Rome: Constantinople. This brilliant new capital embraced the church at its center and would be the largest and wealthiest city in Europe for centuries. Constantinople didn’t last, and many modern cities prioritize values that are different from Constantine’s day. Eliot Grasso will address the following question: How should the priorities of the city impact a life of faith?

Charley Dewberry

Charley DewberryLearn More

The Development of Cities in the Modern Era: The End of Civilization or the Triumph of Civilization?

Cities are one of the most conspicuous developments in Western civilization during the modern era (1700-present). In this talk, Charley Dewberry will contrast Lewis Mumford’s view that our current cities represent the last stage of civilization before its rapid disruption and downfall with that of Edward Glaeser, who sees our triumph of the city as the greatest invention in the history of mankind.

Ryan Carroll

Ryan CarrollLearn More

The New Jerusalem: Living in the Light of the Re-created City

As Ellul argues, in the city, God takes what man created out of rebellion and turns it into the symbolic embodiment of creation’s ultimate destiny. What does Revelation’s apocalyptic vision of the New Jerusalem teach us about God’s redemptive nature, His provision for human choice and creativity, and what each in turn may mean for our engagement with the city today?

Institute Details


Thursday night, July 29, 5:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Friday night, July 30, 5:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 31, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.


Gutenberg College
1883 University Street
Eugene, OR 97403

In-Person Cost*

(includes dinner on Friday night; continental breakfast on Saturday morning; and lunch on Saturday):

Before July 15: $85 (Individual); $115 (Family); $40 (Student)
July 15 and after: $100 (Individual); $130 (Family); $45 (Student)

* Financial Aid: Limited financial aid packages are available for those who wish to attend. If you wish to apply, please contact the office.
* Volunteer opportunities: We can also offer reduced costs for volunteers. If you would like to volunteer, please contact the office.

Remote (Zoom) Option

We are offering a Zoom option for those who would like to attend the Summer Institute remotely. The option includes the following:

  • Live Zoom streaming of all the lectures and the QA panel at the end.
  • Recorded video and audio of the lectures and the QA panel at the end.
  • Live Zoom discussion groups for remote participants led by dedicated discussion leaders. These discussion groups will be made up of remote participants only. You will be able to see the discussion leader and other participants and be able to talk in real time with each other.

To participate, you will need a reasonably good internet connection and a computer with a built-in or external webcam and mic. Our technical team will do a trial run with Zoom attendees to make sure that their connection works well, and a Zoom technician will be available throughout the conference.

Remote (Zoom) Cost*

$50 (Individual); $65 (Family); $25 (Student)


Register for In-Person Attendance
Register for Zoom Attendance



(See lecture descriptions above under Format.)

Thursday Night
5:30-6:15 Check-in
6:15-6:30 Welcome
6:30-8:00 Discussion of Reading One: Genesis 4 and The Meaning of the City (Chapter 1, Section 1: “Cain,” pages 1-9) by Jacques Ellul
8:00-8:15 Break
8:15-9:00 Lecture 1: Chris Swanson, “The Spiritual Significance of the City”
Friday Night
5:00-6:00 Dinner
6:00-7:30 Discussion of Reading Two: City of God (Chapter 14, Section 28, and Chapter 15, Section 7) by Augustine
7:30-7:45 Break
7:45-8:30 Lecture 2: Eliot Grasso, “City Life”
8:30-9:00 Continental Breakfast
9:00-10:30 Discussion of Reading Three: The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects (pages 551-560) by Lewis Mumford
10:30-10:45 Break
10:45-11:30 Lecture 3: Charley Dewberry, “The Development of Cities in the Modern Era: The End of Civilization or the Triumph of Civilization?”
11:30-12:30 Lunch
12:30-2:00 Discussion of Reading Four: Revelation 21:1-22:5 and The Meaning of the City (Chapter 6, Section 2: “The New City,” pages 188-196) by Jacques Ellul
2:00-2:15 Break
2:15-3:00 Lecture 4: Ryan Carroll, “The New Jerusalem: Living in the Light of the Re-created City”
3:00-3:30 Q and A
Register for In-Person Attendance
Register for Zoom Attendance


Previous Summer Institute Topics:

2020: Struggle & Hope

2019: Tribes and Truth: What Happened to Civil Discourse?

2018: Are We All Reading the Same Bible?

2017: Meaning and Flourishing in a Secular Age

2016: How to Build a Bridge

2015: Reunion: Tanakh and the Gospel of Matthew

2014: What We Have Learned

2013: How To Follow Jesus When You Cannot Kill the Beast

2012: What the BLEEP Can We Know?
2012: The Problem of Evil

2010: Democracy: A User’s Manual

2009: Paychecks, Politics & Paradigms

2007: Søren Kierkegaard

2006: Faith & Science

2005: Disenculturating the Gospel

2004: Making Sense of the Bible

2003: Postmodernism, Reason, and the Church

2002: Christianity & Culture