Lecture series abstracts

Why doctors must be creative

Jay Baruch, M.D., Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University

In this talk, Baruch will talk about narrative risks in medicine and why physicians need to think like artists.

Baruch serves as the director of the Medical Humanities and Bioethics Scholarly Concentration at Brown University’s medical school. What's Left Out (Kent State University Press, 2015), his latest collection of short fiction, received a ForeWord Reviews 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Bronze Award in the short fiction category. His first collection of short fiction, Fourteen Stories: Doctors, Patients, and Other Strangers  (Kent State University Press, 2007) was Honorable Mention in the short story category in ForeWord Magazine’s 2007 Book of the Year Awards.

He is a former Faculty Fellow at the Cogut Center for the Humanities at Brown University. His academic work centers on the belief that medicine is a creative act. Creative thinking, creative writing skills and the arts are important clinical skills. He co-edits Littoral Medicine, the Brown Emergency Medicine ideas blog. He was recently selected to receive the inaugural Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award from the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.

RSVP necessary: Email Jessica.Griffith@med.wmich.edu

in defense of ideals

Mark Edmundson, University Professor, University of Virginia

In this talk, Edmundson will explore and endorse what he takes to be the three great ideals: courage, compassion and wisdom. He will consider courage in Homer, compassion in the Gospels, and wisdom in the works of Plato and Socrates. How, he will ask, would one pursue one of the ideals in daily life?

Edmundson is University Professor at the University of Virginia. He has won an NEH endowed chair for his teaching, and a Guggenheim Fellowship for scholarship. He’s the author of a dozen books, most recently Self and Soul: A Defense of Ideals. His book trilogy Why Read?, Why Teach? and Why Write? directly addresses the human goods that can be obtained through intellectual pursuits. He has won a Guggenheim Fellowship and earned a National Endowment for the Humanities chair for distinguished teaching.

immigrant to neighbor: journeying through hope and fear

This program will feature Jennifer Clark and Miriam Downey, co-editors of the anthology Immigration & Justice for Our Neighbors (Celery City Books), and contributors Hedy Habra, Bryan R. Monte and Lynn Pattison. The anthology was recently published in collaboration with the United Methodist ministry Justice For Our Neighbors-Kalamazoo (J-FON). J-FON provides free legal clinics for local immigrants and advocates for immigrant rights. Aita Diop, legal assistant at J-FON, will provide an overview of the ministry's work. Other panelists will perform readings from the book, now in its second edition. The volume features poems, interviews and essays written by authors from Kalamazoo and elsewhere in Michigan. The contributions focus on the themes of immigration, hospitality and being a good neighbor. The readings will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A.

Clark is the author of Necessary Clearings (Shabda Press). Her second poetry collection, Johnny Appleseed: The Slice and Times of John Chapman, is forthcoming from Shabda Press.

Downey is a retired public school librarian and media specialist. For the past several years she has tutored international students from Western Michigan University and helped them adapt and adjust to student life in the United States. She regularly reviews books on her blog, The Cyberlibrarian: Reviews and Views on Current Literature. She is a wife, mother and grandmother of 10. She has worked with  J-FON for the past three years.
Habra, a Spanish instructor at Western Michigan University, has authored two poetry collections: Tea in Heliopolis and Under Brushstrokes. Her story collection, Flying Carpets, won the 2013 Arab American National Book Award’s Honorable Mention.Her poetry appears in Cimarron Review, Bitter Oleander, Gargoyle, Poet Lore, Nimrod, World Literature Today and Verse Daily. Her website is Hedyhabra.com.

Monte is a social anthropologist, writer and editor from the Netherlands. Recently his work has appeared in Assaracus, Friends Journal (poem and interview here), the John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, the anthology Gathered: Contemporary Quaker Poets, and the online magazines Poetry Pacific and the South Florida Poetry Journal.

Pattison is a Michigan poet whose work has appeared in The Notre Dame Review, Rhino, Atlanta Review, Harpur Palate, Smartish Pace, Rattle, Tinderbox, Slipstream, and Poetry East, among others, and been anthologized in several venues. Nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, she is the author of three collections: tesla's daughter (March St. Press), Walking Back the Cat (Bright Hill Press) and Light That Sounds Like Breaking (Mayapple Press).  

 Diop is the legal assistant for J-FON. Originally from Senegal, she is a 2014 graduate of Western Michigan University and holds a BA in Spanish.

The kindling of a flame: Analogies to light the way for technology in education

Kentaro Toyama, W.K. Kellogg Associate Professor of Community Information, University of Michigan School of Information

College graduates today are digital natives fluent in technology, but have they learned more than their parents? Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have made learning materials free to anyone with Internet access, but have they bridged educational disparities? If technology is so good for learning, why do well-educated parents set limits on their children's screen time? These questions can be readily answered with the right analogies for what education really is and what technology actually does.Good analogies can help to grasp the complicated mass of evidence about technology in education; to guard against tech-zealot rhetoric that preys on parents' fears of children being "left behind"; and to light the way toward the appropriate use -- and non use -- of technology for meaningful learning.

Toyama is a fellow of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT. Until 2009, he was assistant managing director of Microsoft Research India, which he co-founded in 2005. Prior to his time in India, Toyama did computer vision and multimedia research at Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA, USA and Cambridge, UK, and taught mathematics at Ashesi University in Accra, Ghana. He is the author of Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology and writes The ICT4D Jester, a blog critiquing technology for development. In Geek Heresy, he debunks the claims of tech zealots and reveals why global problems cannot be solved with gadgets alone.

Criminal justice, social justice and climate justice

Ronald Kramer, Professor of Sociology, Western Michigan University

Kramer will draw some lessons from the efforts to prevent and control criminal behavior and see if they could be applied to the efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. He will argue that the avoidance of "militarization" and the attainment of some form of "social justice” are necessary for responding appropriately both to crime and climate disruption.

Kramer is a longtime peace and justice activist and founding member of Kalamazoo Nonviolent Opponents of War. He has been on the board of the WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society since its founding in 1985, and he founded the annual Peace and Justice Education Week at the University in 1983. Formerly the co-producer and host of the community access television program WMU Forum (1987 to 1995), Kramer is also part of the collective that produces the award-winning television program "Critical Issues, Alternative Views," airing on the Public Media Network in Kalamazoo and available on YouTube. He is co-chair of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Study Group on Climate Change at the WMU Center for the Humanities.

This lecture honors Kramer’s service to the Ethics Center. He is leaving the center’s board to devote more time to his work on climate change. Please join us in celebrating his contributions with light refreshments after his talk.

The life and death of latisha king

Gayle Salamon, Associate Professor of English and Gender and Sexuality Studies, Princeton University

Salamon’s forthcoming The Life and Death of Latisha King examines a single incident, the shooting of 15-year-old Latisha King by 14-year-old Brian McInerney in their junior high school classroom in Oxnard, California, in 2008. The press coverage of the shooting, as well as the legal trial that followed, referred to Latisha, assigned male at birth, as Larry.  What are the consequences of representing the victim as Larry, a gay boy, instead of Latisha, a trans girl? Professor Salamon uses phenomenology to analyze what happened in the school and at the murder trial that followed.  She argues that the case provides a vivid example of the consequences of misreading gender identity as sexual identity, and shows how that misreading enables the attribution of aggression to gender-nonconforming people who are the victims of violence.

Salamon has a Ph.D. in rhetoric from the University of Berkeley. She works in phenomenology, queer and trans theory, feminist philosophy, 20th Century Continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, and disability studies. She wrote about the ethics of transsexual difference in an article for The Transgender Studies Reader 2 (Routledge, 2013). Her book Assuming a Body: Transgender and Rhetorics of Materiality (Columbia University Press, 2010) was winner of the 2011 Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Studies. In addition to her manuscript analyzing the classroom murder of L. King, she is at work on another entitled Painography: Metaphor and the Phenomenology of Chronic Pain, which explores narrations of bodily pain and disability in contemporary memoir.

 Liberalism and Racial Justice

Charles Mills, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, City University of New York

Liberalism's record on racial injustice has historically been problematic, in that it has more often been complicit with racism and white supremacy than critical of them. Nonetheless, Mills will argue in this paper that liberalism can be retrieved for the project of achieving racial justice. But this will require more rethinking of liberalism's history and framing assumptions than normally recognized.

Mills began his academic career studying physics at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, before eventually pursuing graduate work in philosophy at the University of Toronto. His research interests include social and political philosophy, critical philosophy of race, African American philosophy, Marxism, and feminism. Most recently, he authored Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism, published in 2017 by Oxford University Press.