Helping people

learn about,


and engage

ideas that matter.

Explore Big Ideas

Explore Big Ideas LLC is an online, personal development and education company that develops web-based projects for adults to learn about, ponder, and engage ideas that matter.  Our mission is to empower people to think better, act consistently with their values, and interact amicably and respectfully with those who see the world differently.

What are “Big Ideas”?

Big ideas are the answers to questions central to what it means to be human and how to act in the world.  We encounter the big ideas when we explore topics such as justice, freedom, human nature, the good society, the nature of the universe, and ultimate reality (God). In other words, big ideas help communities and individuals explore the varied responses to questions such as: 

  • What is the meaning of life?
  • What does it mean to be human?
  • Do human beings possess free will or is everything that occurs predetermined?
  • What makes an action right or wrong?  What makes a policy good or bad?
  • How should I decide whether or not do something?
  • When death nears, should I limit the use of medical treatments?
  • How do I act upon my values and participate in the political process?

Why Spend Time Exploring Big Ideas?

Big ideas are tied to an essential part of being human: making meaning out of our existence, experiences, and the world. When we devote time to learn about, ponder and engage big ideas we equip ourselves to find our purpose, understand our true selves, and live more fully.

Meaning-making is as natural and automatic to being human as breathing is.  Just as most of us breathe without a second thought, we also make meaning without knowing we are doing it. And, like breathing, when we slow down and become intentional and reflective while making meaning, we get better at it.

Alice Walker


"I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love."   ~Albert~

Alice Walker - The Color Purple

Alice Walker photo by Virginia DeBolt (Alice Walker speaks) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Explore Big Ideas

offers resources and opportunities to


     about the ideas that matter in religion, philosophy, ethics, and politics.


     life’s big questions on an exciting journey of discovery and reflection.


     more fully as a person, professional, and citizen of the world.  

Exploring ideas that matter is a cyclical process with three distinct phases: Learning, Pondering, and Engaging. ​You can enter the exploration process at any phase, moving ‘backward’ or ‘forward’ in the cycle. 

Meet the Founders/Owners

Joel Heim and Nelia Beth Scovill, two former college professors known as creative and dynamic educators, formed Explore Big Ideas LLC in 2018.

Joel J. Heim, M.Div., Ph.D.

Joel has a life-long interest in issues of peace and justice and creates engaging religion and philosophy courses.  Students routinely remarked that, although they took the courses "just to meet a requirement", his classes were the most thought-provoking and practical courses of their college career. 

Nelia Beth Scovill, M.Div., Ph.D.

Ever since she read Dr. Seuss’ Yertle the Turtle as a child, Nelia Beth’s interests have returned to fairness and individual and social change.  Whether teaching women and religion, ethical theory, or academic writing, Nelia Beth empowered top and struggling students to exceed their own expectations. 

Married to each other since 1990, both Nelia Beth and Joel earned masters degrees at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York and doctorates in Religion and Social Ethics at the University of Southern California.  Together they have more than 40 years of college teaching experience at universities in California and Wisconsin.

Our Current Projects

College Religion and Philosophy

College Religion and Philosophy

A great place to start learning about the ideas that matter, this project also includes many opportunities to ponder and engage. Here college-level religion and philosophy courses are presented in vibrant and engaging multimedia e-learning formats based on Joel's and Nelia Beth’s experience teaching face-to-face classes. Like college courses, they include semester-long projects, class discussions, and exams. Unlike them, you are free to learn at your own pace and let your interests determine which activities you complete. 

Spectrum Ethics

Showcasing the method of ethical reflection developed by Nelia Beth and Joel, EBI's Spectrum Ethics project focuses on the diverse range of Christian positions on ethical issues.  Rejecting the notion that ethical issues can be reduced to two opposing viewpoints, Spectrum Ethics prioritizes engaging the full range of Christian positions on issues. While clearly suited for those who self-identify as Christian, Spectrum Ethics can help anyone learn about the diversity of Christian ethical positions and articulate their own positions in relation to them.  

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