Daniel Boscaljon received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies (2009) with a focus on modern religious thought and postsecular theology, and his Ph.D. in English (2013) with a focus on nineteenth-century American literature. Throughout his graduate studies, Daniel emphasized continental philosophy and literary theory, stretching from German Romantics to French Post-Structuralists. During his decade teaching at the University of Iowa, Daniel recevied a number of commendations including the Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor Award (2013), The Gerber Award for Excellence in teaching General Education Literature (2012), The Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award (2010), and the Seely Dissertation and Teaching Fellowship (2012-2013). Throughout his time at Iowa, Daniel developed a reputation for his dynamic presentations and discussions, as well as his ability to help students develop their critical thinking, reading, and writing skills.
Daniel’s professional work reflects his passion for multidisciplinary inquiries into the humanities. He is responsible for convening the sessions in Theological Humanism for the International Society of Religion, Literature and Culture and is on the steering committee for the Religion and Humanism section of the American Academy of Religion. He additionally organized as series of conferences centered around Religion, Literature and the Arts at the University of Iowa–two of these were successful enough to generate books he edited: Resisting the Place of Belonging (Ashgate, 2013), Hope and the Longing for Utopia (Wipf and Stock, 2014). Daniel is a past editor for the Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies, and currently serves as an associate editor for Literature and Theology. In addition to a number of articles and chapters that use film and literature to inquire about subjects such as love and evil, Daniel has also published a monograph, Vigilant Faith (Virginia, 2013), and is working on completing Gothic Haunts, which is contracted with SUNY Press. What unites each of these projects is a drive toward uncovering the lingering need for mystery and uncertainty within a secular world increasingly marked by the thirst for certainty and control.
Leslie Caton is a non-fiction essayist who graduated with honors from the University of Iowa in 2015. She was a finalist for the Norman Mailer Non-Fiction Prize and had a Notable Essay in Best American Essays of 2013. In addition to writing, Leslie has owned and operated a web design business since 2002 and trained organizations to optimize and manage their web presence. She has been instrumental in the organizational growth of groups including The Eastern Iowa Arts Academy, the Iowa PTA, and invited to groups like Cedar Rapids MADDADS (Men Against Destruction Defending Against Drugs and Social Disorder) to enable founders to translate vision into practice. Leslie has also helped clients self-publish memoirs, plays, and anthologies; worked as a copywriter; and as a paid intern for The Iowa Review. She has volunteered in classrooms and for the Iowa Youth Writing Project getting kids who don’t like to read or write excited about the power of words. Her essays examine broad social issues that reflect her background in Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies, exploring social frameworks through personal narrative and encouraging readers to question assumptions about culture and human nature.
CHI’s co-founders value ways of thinking and being that are marked by openness, creativity, and reflection. Because the educational system at all levels is becoming increasingly measured by quantifiable standards, treated as a commodity, the co-founders decided that the best way to make a space for those who value wonder would require operating outside of the traditional university structure. Both Daniel and Leslie share a vision for the need to make a space for critical and creative thinkers who remain focused on questions of what makes life meaningful. As teachers, their ability to translate theoretical ideas into practical concepts complements their vision for making students more suspicious of ways of living that have become overly dependent on “invisible” technologies and processes. Whether engaging in creative or in critical expressions of thought, their students become more meditative about options in life that tend to become overlooked in a Western world dominated by technological conveniences and a will to control.