The Ethics Table
The Ethics Table is a key initiative of the Beamer-Schneider Professorship in Ethics. It is a metaphor that has many institutional forms. Starting in Spring semester 2013, it will take three. In all these forms, "ethics" is meant broadly in the original sense as ethos, a way of life, and so includes politics as well as more private matters.
The main Ethics Table expression will be a bi-weekly brown-bag lunch open to any member of the campus community, students especially, and to members of the wider community outside the campus if they so desire. For Fall 2013, lunches are held every other Wednesday starting September 4th and (except Thanksgiving week) ending December 4th from 11:30AM-1 PM in Room A at the top of the stairs on the second floor. The alternative room on some dates will be in the Spartan Room of Thwing. The lunches will be BYO (bring your own) food, with coffee and some dessert provided. Here are some tips and comfortable ground rules for the ethics discussion.
The lunches are meant primarily to encourage free-form discussion of ethical issues relevant or of interest to campus members of any kind (students, faculty, staff, administration, ...). They are meant to widen our community ethos and enrich our reflective and critical understanding of our university as an environment for ethical learning. In the brown-bag lunches, we will occasionally depart from informal, free-form discussion in one of several ways.
- We may hold a listening circle driven by students (e.g., leaders of campus organizations or interested students) in which students articulate to those present what the genuine ethical issues are facing them today and how they would like to see them taken up reflectively by the campus community.
- We may have a guest discussant who leads a discussion on an ethical issue of genuine public interest.
- We may discuss a short reading in ethics.
In Spring 2013, the topics for the lunches were (in order): a 21st century education in ethics, bioethics as an ecological ethics (w/ Peter Whitehouse), emotions in ethics (w/ Tony Jack), do we have a lack of institutional empathy?, flourishing businesses (w/ the Sustainability Alliance and Chris Laszlo), the irrelevance of empirical reality for ethics, the culture of rape (Steubenville), the cost of higher education and student loan debt, Zero Dark Thirty and the ethics of torture (w/ Rachel Sternberg), creating an anti-misinformation website (w/ the Sustainability Alliance and John Ruhl), the ethics of war at the end of the Aeneid (w/ the Classics Department and Timothy Wutrich).
As a continuation of the Beamer-Schneider ethics programs, here is the first call for the 2013-14 Ethics Table Fellows. The 2013-14 Ethics Table Fellows will be a group of 6-8 committed faculty, staff, or advanced students who wish to pursue an ethics project across the 2013-14 academic year. Projects must have some bearing on the programs or curriculum of this institution, helping to foster ethical learning.Examples could include:
The duties of being an Ethics Table Fellow are as follows:
The material benefits of being an Ethics Table fellow are:
The intellectual benefits of being an Ethics Table Fellow are:
The social benefits of being an Ethics Table Fellow are:
Please note that the funds will not be disbursed until the end of the program in May 2014 contingent on fully upholding all duties. Those who do not complete their duties will not receive funding. If you are (a) interested in finding out more about being an Ethics Table Fellow and (b) can already be sure to meet all the time commitments and project-expectation, then please email email@example.com for further information on how to apply. The application period begins now and will continue until May 24th. Successful applicants will be notified by May 30th, 2013.
Finally, members of the 2011-12 Ethics Table may continue, from time to time, to organize events around ethics, such as pot-luck dinners, talks, or film nights. To be aware of these activities as well as to participate in on-line discussion of ethics, email firstname.lastname@example.org and consider joining the listserv " ethicstable."
History of the Ethics Table
In the mid-1990s, Bob Lawry from the School of Law convened a summer ethics institute that allowed Case Western Reserve University faculty to explore incorporating ethics into their classes. In 2011-12, supported by the Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust, the Beamer-Schneider Professorship renewed the institute in a different, evolving form –and opened the Table to staff, administration and to graduate students who in direct ways through their programs foster the ethical learning environment of Case Western Reserve University.
In its new form, the Ethics Table's first pulse was during the year 2011-2012. The group met daily for a week in August 2011 to explore the idea of a university ethos. Readings included D.H. Winnicott's Playing and Reality; Dan Scheinfeld's et al., We Are All Explorers: Learning and Teaching with Reggio Principles in Urban Settings; Martha Nussbaum's Creating Capabilities; Alice Munro's Runaway, and the Share the Vision common reading for the year, Justice by Michael Sandel.
The group then met monthly around town -- to get out of school, gain perspective and to support local businesses. We ate at the Squirevue Vallee Farm with Spice of Life farm to table catering, at Le Petit Triangle in Ohio City, Club Isabella in University Circle, Prosperity Social Club in Tremont, the Alumni House where we skyped in philosophical counselor Lauren Tillinghast, Empress Taytu in East Cleveland, Café Anatolia in Cleveland Heights, and at the Greenhouse Tavern downtown.
At each of these meetings, two members of the group presented on ethics from their perspective in the university, and a special guest gave a presentation. The special guests this year were Anthony Jack (Cognitive Science), Shannon French (The Inamori Center), Chin-Tai Kim (Philosophy), Laura Hengehold (Philosophy), Lauren Tillinghast (NYU extension branch and private practice), Rhonda Williams (Social Justice Institute), Piers Turner (Ohio State University, Ethics Center), and Dean Moyar (Johns Hopkins University, Philosophy).
Finally, the group convened for a two day retreat in May 2012, with The Montessori School of Cleveland and Roger Saillant (Fowler Center) as special guests at the Inamori Center and at the Manor House of Squirevue Vallee Farm. The group reflected on its future and on the prospect of future developing our university's ethos. Members of the group also chose to read Simon Blackburn's Being Good, which was given to all members of the group for their reference.
Members of the Ethics Table 2011-2012