Ethics center to host series of book clubs this semester

contact: Deanne Puca
| WMU News
Photo illustration of a stack of books on their side with the words, "Lit-Up, One  Reporter, Three Schools, Twenty-Four Books That Can Change Lives, David Denby, New York Times bestselling author of great books" written on the book spines

Author David Denby comes to campus at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 8.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's Center for the Study of Ethics in Society is hosting a series of book clubs during the spring 2018 semester beginning Tuesday, Jan. 16

Books are provided free of charge to the first 10 people who sign up. To sign up, email no later than one week before the group's first meeting, except for the first session, which has a deadline of Friday, Jan. 12. The events include the following.

  • Jil Larson, associate professor of English, will be leading discussions of "Lit-Up: One Reporter, Three Schools, Twenty-Four Books That Can Change Lives" by David Denby at 4 p.m. Tuesdays Jan. 16, Jan. 23 and Jan. 30 in 2072 Moore Hall. The sessions are prior to Denby's presentation on campus at 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 8, in 3508 Knauss Hall. Denby's book explores questions related to the ethics of reading, such as: Why is reading valuable? How do young people learn to love serious reading in our age of technology? What can we learn about education and the ethics of reading by observing high school English classrooms?
  • Alec Sculley, a master's student in philosophy, will be leading discussions of "Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right From Wrong" by Wendell Walach and Colin Allen at 5 p.m. Wednesdays Jan. 31, Feb. 7 and Feb. 21 in 2072 Moore Hall. This book argues that robots need to be programmed with moral decision-making skills as they become more intertwined with the everyday lives of humans. The topic is relevant, as Google, and various automobile manufacturers are merely years away from having the ability to produce road-ready autonomous vehicles. In September 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that lays the groundwork for future autonomous vehicle legislation.
  • Kathy Purnell, an instructor in the Department of Political Science, will be leading discussions of "Education and Equality" by Danielle Allen with a special guest at 6 p.m. on Mondays, March 19 and March 26, in 4267 Health and Human Services Building. Purnell will feature a different special guest at each meeting. The sessions are prior to Allen's presentation at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 12, in 2452 Knauss Hall. The book is based on a series of lectures examining debates around education's purpose as being primarily vocational or primarily humanistic. Allen argues that the way to resolve these debates is to focus on the civic role that education can play.
  • William Santiago-Valles, associate professor emeritus of Africana studies, will be leading discussions of the report "The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerization?" by Oxford University professors Carl B. Frey and Michael A. Osborne. This series of events has been canceled.

For more information about the series, contact Dr. Sandra L. Borden, School of Communication, at (269) 387-0362 or

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