Book Clubs on Ethics

The Center for the Study of Ethics in Society at Western Michigan University is partnering with Humanities for Everybody to sponsor reading groups during the spring 2021 semester. Join us for spirited discussions about ethics. First 10 sign-ups for each book club get a free book mailed to their home address, courtesy of Humanities for Everybody. Download flier.

Ethics Between the Lines

Participants will join the discussion leaders on Webex for lively virtual discussions. Students who attend all of the meetings for their book club receive Signature credit.

Norman W. Hawker, professor of finance and commercial law in Western Michigan University’s Haworth College of Business, will be leading discussions of Frances McCall Rosenbluth and Ian Shapiro’s Responsible Parties: Saving Democracy from Itself (2018). Rosenbluth and Shapiro question the conventional wisdom of decentralizing politics, arguing that the way to restore confidence in democracies is to strengthen political parties. How important is trust to democratic institutions and processes? What are the responsibilities of political parties and citizens in making democracy work? Dr. Hawker has worked in various capacities on numerous partisan and non-partisan political campaigns and organizations since 1976. Online discussions will take place 4-5 p.m. Feb. 9, 16 and 23.

William Santiago-Valles, associate professor emeritus of Africana Studies, will be leading discussions of Alex S. Vitale’s End of Policing (2018). The author, professor of sociology and coordinator of the Policing & Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College, argues that reforms focused on accountability and training will not succeed in ending police violence. Rather, alternatives to policing itself, such as restorative justice, are needed. Some of the questions to be explored are: Who profits from the problem of police violence? What can we learn from groups that are addressing this problem, and what else do we need to know to explain the causes of police violence? Online discussions will take place 5:30-7 p.m. March 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29.

Tyler Gibb, Co-Chief of the Program in Medical Ethics, Humanities & Law at Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, will be leading discussions of Lock-In by John Scalzi (2015). In this dystopian medical science fiction/police procedural/murder mystery, a pandemic sweeps through the globe with mild effects except for the unlucky few: a syndrome in which they are fully conscious but cannot move or speak. This book raises questions about rationing medical care, discrimination in public spaces and other timely ethical themes. Online discussions will take place 5:30-6:30 p.m. March 2, 16 and 30.

Kathy Purnell, staff attorney for Justice for Our Neighbors and part-time instructor in in the School of Public Affairs and Administration, will be leading discussions of Caste (2020) by Isabel Wilkerson. Wilkerson argues that there is a deep hierarchical system underlining who has power and who does not in every society. She describes the pillars of this system and how they manifest in different times and places, including the United States, India, and Nazi Germany. The book raises questions about the political and personal destructiveness of categories that unjustly pit us against each other. Online discussions will take place 6-7:30 p.m. April 7, 14 and 21.

All groups are open to everyone.

Register here


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