I enjoy taking ideas beyond the university classroom.  Whether speaking at a public venue in Missouri, a library in Tuscany, or on the streets of Rome, the subjects I consider are tailored to a group’s interests. I have organized workshops and educational trips for adults that build from topics central to my work as an author.

For example, most recently Dr. David Cornelison of KSMU, the NPR affiliate in southwest Missouri, interviewed me for his weekly STEM Spots feature. My topic:  Science Fiction, Dystopia, And How it Relates to Real Life.  I was also a guest earlier in the year, when Dr. Cornelison asked me some great questions about my interest in the history of science as it intersects with American literature.

Last April I was part of the Library Company of Philadelphia’s “Fireside Chats.” My topic? Anne Hampton Brewster’s reactions to quarantine and epidemics in Rome. The audience engagement and response was strong. You can stream the recording through this link on YouTube or, for multi-taskers who like podcasts, here’s the link to an audiofile on SoundCloud.  I would love to receive your thoughts or questions using the contact form, or reach out through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

And in March 2020 author Pamela Toler interviewed me as part of her women’s history month blog, “Talking About Women’s History: Three Questions and and Answer.” You can learn more about my work and hers (and many other writers of women’s history) through the link to her website and the many interviews featured there.

Last year (2019) with Deborah Cox  of Beyond Studio, I led a series of writing as therapy workshops.

As part of The Great American Read project, I spoke about Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven on a cults and  intentional communities panel at the Springfield-Greene County Library Center, and I served as emcee for the Christian County Library trivia contest in Ozark.

An upcoming small group talk will focus on American women in Italy–the topic of my current book project.

Past group trips to Italy and to England have focused on alternative communities, American Protestant pilgrims and American writers abroad. Another educational trip was on the books for June 2020, but was postponed due to Covid-19. Our group is looking ahead to 2021, with hopes that we can travel then. Let me know if you would like to be a part of this group.

Other group experiences

Additional group sessions, sometimes co-led with other professionals, have included:

  • women’s roles and self-perceptions
  • food & identity
  • writing & healing
  • faith journeys
  • food & faith
  • alternative communities and sexual practices

Are you part of a group that occasionally hosts guest speakers? Are you part of a circle of friends who continue to love learning? If so, contact me about scheduling an activity. I would be delighted to brainstorm with you, whether you are considering a lecture, a workshop or an educational journey.

Coincidence or Signs? Waldensians in the News

Twice in less than 24 hours—actually, within about 12 hours—I received notice from two friends* of two recent but very different news stories about the Waldensians. One was in here, in Friday’s New York Times, and the other was in here, in Ozarks Alive, only a few days... More >


As Italy crawls back to life, many of us mourn the loss of trips planned and cancelled. This week-after-semester’s-end at the university often finds me in flight across the Atlantic. For most of the last decade, returning to the peninsula I fell in love with during a study abroad semester... More >

Alternative Spiritual Formation in the Italian Piedmont & Tuscany

Soon after I announced this summer 2018 spiritual formation trip, a full slate of travelers had signed up.  (A “full slate” means small–a half-dozen or so, a dozen at the most. ) So we were eleven, myself included, focused on “alternative communities.” We headed to the Italian Piedmont and Tuscany.

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Italy: A Recent Group Experience

In the spring of 2016 I met several times with a group of adults in preparation for a pilgrimage to Italy. With a theme of syncretism, or the blending of faith traditions, I shared with them information about Americans traveling to Italy in the 19th century. Details about popular authors Nathaniel... More >