Upper House Launches New Learning Cohorts

August 5, 2020

If you like to engage with other people around big ideas and their implications for your work, life, and spirit, you will be excited about Upper House’s Learning Cohorts. These are more than book groups. They are facilitated discussions that leverage innovative resources to delve into high-impact topics that intersect with who we are and how we work, lead, and live as Christ followers.

We expect cohorts will provide a unique and rich learning experience for groups comprised of diverse members of our Upper House community. Two things members likely will have in common? A deep, personal interest in the topic under study and a desire to listen to—and learn from—other members of the cohort.

Meeting over a specified period of time, a cohort’s membership will remain stable once it has started and its registration has closed. But if a topic generates significant interest beyond the cohort’s capacity, Upper House will consider launching another, similar, cohort at a later time.

Meeting In-Person or Online

We love to host in-person events at Upper House. However, our planning is influenced by the trajectory of the pandemic as well as University, state, and county guidelines. At this time, we expect learning cohorts to meet in person at Upper House, where the space will be arranged to allow for physical distancing. We will also require masks. If it turns out learning cohorts need to go virtual, we will pivot to online meetings. The flavor of the experience might change slightly, but the value will not.

Fall 2020 Learning Cohort Topics

Please click individual titles for more information about each cohort, including content overviews, member commitments, meeting dates, leader bios, and registration links. Every semester, we will launch new cohorts that will address a new range of topics.

Lament—Learning the Minor Key

This cohort is designed for those who are ready to acknowledge the fear, exhaustion, anger, disappointment, and grief in our personal lives and in the society around us. Sometimes we feel we can do nothing more than cry out, “How long, Lord? It should not be this way!” This is lament. In it, we choose to speak out loud our pain to God, to ask for his intervention, to “yet” declare God is good. This cohort will lean into Mark Vroegop’s book, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament (Crossway, 2019), and engage lament as an intimate exercise. It is intended for people of all ages and walks of life who are ready to learn about and discuss lament—those who are seeking to move through suffering, ready to be honest with God, and emotionally mature enough to be discerning and vulnerable with others.

  • Cohort leader: Rebecca Cooks, Upper House Hospitality and Events Coordinator
  • Cohort size 12
  • 5 meetings
  • Starts September 2
  • Registration deadline: August 27
The Color of Compromise

The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby (Zondervan Reflective, 2020) takes readers on a historical journey: from America’s early colonial days through slavery and the Civil War, the Jim Crow laws, the victories of the Civil Rights era, and today’s Black Lives Matter movement. In this cohort, Dane County pastors and clergy will discuss Tisby’s book, confront the American church’s complicity in racism, and discern ways to advance the local church in reconciliation.

  • Cohort leaders: Jon Anderson, Executive Director of the Collaboration Project; Adam Clausen, Senior Leader of Life Center Madison; and Colier McNair, Pastor of Multicultural Ministry and Worship Arts at Blackhawk Church
  • Cohort size 16
  • 4 meetings
  • Starts September 24
  • Registration deadline: September 16
Faith & Co. ‘Business on Purpose’

This cohort will explore business as a calling to serve God and neighbor by engaging Faith & Co. films produced by the Center for Integrity in Business at Seattle Pacific University (SPU). Seasoned business or organizational leaders, pastors, educators serving marketplace leaders, or graduate students will meet weekly at Upper House to develop a personal theological framework connecting faith and work. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) or graduate-level course credit are also available through SPU for $399.

  • Cohort leaders: John Terrill, Executive Director of Upper House, and Jean Collins, Director of Administration of Upper House
  • Cohort size 10-16
  • 8 weekly meetings
  • Starts September 24
  • Registration deadline:  September 18
Redeeming Work

Leveraging a six-week video series, Redeeming Work, hosted by entrepreneurial thought leader Andy Crouch, this learning cohort offers undergraduate students an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the dynamic relationship between faith and work. Students will explore examples of Christians who have identified their unique skills, experiences, and passions to pursue their true calling, and will consider what it means to integrate faith, classroom studies, and post-college career plans.

  • Cohort leaders: Daniel Johnson, Director of Technology and Campus Ministry Engagement at Upper House; Cameron Anderson, Associate Director of Upper House; and James Walker, Program Manager, Global Operations and Campus Minister for Cru
  • Cohort size 30
  • 6 weekly meetings
  • Starts September 30
  • Registration deadline: September 28

As more new Learning Cohorts are launched, we will update our events page at We hope you find one that stirs your interest.