College Course on U2, Spiritual Engagement & Activism


Marshall Welch
Saint Mary’s College of California
Engaging Pedagogies in Catholic Higher Education, Vol. 1: Iss. 1, Article 4, 2015

logoThis article describes a January-term community engagement service-learning college course that used the musical and spiritually-based activism of U2 as an example of engaged spirituality using activism and advocacy. In addition to learning about the history, music, and activism of the band, students were taught a specific set of skills for developing and implementing action plans, and coordinating logistics for advocacy-based events on campus.  Students were assigned to apply these skills as the service-learning component of the course.  These activities were conceptualized as indirect service that reflected activism and advocacy as a form of engaged spirituality.  The article concludes by describing its impact and how learning objectives were met.

Click here to download the article.



Social Justice and Pop Culture: U2 as a non-traditional Christian voice

On June 5, 2015, I delivered the closing address for a gathering of the North American Association of Christians in Social Work (California chapter) at Fresno Pacific University. In my talk, “Social Justice and Pop Culture: U2 as a non-traditional Christian voice,” I suggest the thesis that “U2 models a non-traditional Christian witness by engaging the world — especially in areas of social concern — not by remaining isolated from it.”

After giving a brief survey of Ireland, The Troubles and U2’s own adolescence, I address the changing social commentary that “Sunday Bloody Sunday” provides across four decades of live performances, including the dirge-like presentation on the current Innocence + Experience tour. I finish by reflecting on Bono’s own words about engagement with the culture, especially as faith prompts him to speak about social issues.

I captured a live Persicope stream of the presentation and edited in some of my visuals (including concert footage).

Video is on YouTube here.

My blog post about it is here.


U2: Made in Dublin at The Little Museum of Dublin

U2MadeInDublinLogoI was honored to be asked to help curate the permanent exhibit U2: Made in Dublin for The Little Museum of Dublin. The exhibit opened in 2013 and continues to grow.

Charting the story of the band from 1976 all the way up to the present day, this fan-curated exhibition features musical rarities, signed albums and some great photography, alongside items such as a Trabant car, a Gibson Explorer, a life-size sculpture of MacPhisto and even a pack of U2 condoms.

The exhibition was curated by fans of the band alongside some of Ireland’s best photographers and artists, as a tribute to the achievements of U2 and a celebration of their roots in the local music scene of the 1970s. A soundtrack narrated by Tom Dunne tells the story of the band with rare live recordings from the Dandelion Market all the way through to Croke Park. It’s already proving hugely popular with fans of Ireland’s most famous musical export.


Two Collections of Essays Published from the U2 Conference

* From the 2009 meeting of the U2 Conference came Exploring U2: Is This Rock ‘n’ Roll? from Rowman & Littlefield.

Edited by Scott Calhoun, with sixteen essays based on presentations from the conference from Neil McCormick, Danielle Rhéaume, Rachel E. Seiler, Jeffrey F. Keuss and Sara Koenig, Christopher Endrinal, Steve Taylor, Michele O’Brien, Kevin J. H. Dettmar, Daniel T. Kline, Beth Maynard, Greg Clarke, Deane Galbraith, Bruce L. Edwards, John Hurtgen, Stephen Catanzarite, and Scott Calhoun. More information and contents here.

* From the 2013 meeting of the U2 Conference came U2 Above, Across, and Beyond: Interdisciplinary Assessments from Lexington Press.

Edited by Scott Calhoun, with eight essays based on presentations from the conference from Christopher Wales, Brian F. Wright, Ed Montano, Arlan Elizabeth Hess, Fred Johnson, Theodore Louis Trost, Steve Taylor, and Matthew J. Hamilton. More information and contents here.


The U2 Conference logo and site design by Beth Nabi.