Ethics Center stages original play examining world of academia

Contact: Mark Schwerin

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—An original one-act play examining the world of academia and written by a Western Michigan University employee will be staged as the next event in the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society's spring 2016 lecture series.

"Divorce (Professional)" will be performed at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, and 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, in the University Center for the Humanities, 2500 Knauss Hall. The play, written by Kathy Purnell, in the Office of the Vice President for Research, will be performed as a concert read with WMU faculty and administrators reading the featured roles. The event is free and open to the public.

About the play

The play explores the decision of a political philosopher to do the "unthinkable" (quit her tenure-track position) and the factors that shape the decision. Drawing upon insights from a wide range of philosophers and political theorists, including Kant (on sexual ethics), bell hooks (on scholars), Nietzsche (on "dying"), Martin Luther King (on Nietzsche), Rousseau (on social inequality) and Plato (on the nature of truth and the role of philosophers).

The play delves into several contemporary issues impacting universities, such as mentorship of junior faculty, defining oneself as a scholar, consensual sexual relationship policies, sexual and racial harassment in academic contexts and the importance of leadership at all levels—student, staff, administrative and faculty—to build inclusive learning and professional environments.

The play features Dr. Thomas Bailey, professor emeritus of English and environmental studies and also with the Center for English Language and Culture for International Students, in the role of Emeritus; Dr. Evelyn Winfield-Thomas, executive director of the Office of Institutional Equity, as Junior Professor; and Dr. Mark Hurwitz, associate professor of political science, as Department Chair.

The play is directed by Laura Henderson, founder and executive producer of Queer Theatre Kalamazoo.

After the performance, the featured cast will engage faculty, staff and students on key issues raised by the play on what are the responsibilities of administrators, faculty and students to promote inclusive and equitable environments for learning and scholarship.

event Co-sponsors

The event is co-sponsored by the Graduate College, Office of the Vice President for Research, Department of Political Science, Department of Gender and Women's Studies, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

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