Speakers tackle opioid crisis, civil discourse, mass violence, more

Contact: Taylor Koopman

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Timely issues with broad community appeal are taking place this semester during a Western Michigan University lecture series that starts Tuesday, Jan. 22, and ends Monday, March 25.

One of the first talks in the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society's spring series will revolve around the opioid crisis and how to prevent addiction. The lecture, "Does Communitywide Public Health Prevention Work? From Reducing Teen Births to Addressing Today's Opioid Epidemic," will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, in Room 157-158 Bernhard Center.

Headshot, Dr. Ron A. Cisler

Dr. Ron A. Cisler

It will be presented by Dr. Ron A. Cisler, dean of the WMU College of Health and Human Services. Cisler will talk about the development of a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, primary prevention approach to reduce opioid and other drug use by youth residing in western Michigan and across the state.

Cisler became dean of the College of Health and Human Services in August. In recent years, he also has served at the local, state and national levels as a researcher and widely quoted expert on the topic of improving urban infant mortality rates and reducing health care disparities.

His primary research interests are in population health disparities, behavioral health risk factors, and alcoholism and alcohol-related illnesses. He is internationally known for his expertise in assessing recovery outcomes for alcohol treatment clinical trials.

Other spring presentations

  • Tuesday, Jan. 22—The two WMU winners of an Ethics Center essay contest will discuss the papers they wrote based on the theme of the center's new vision statement, "Dedicated to making ethics vital in our communities." Mitchell Winget, a graduate student in philosophy, wrote "A Realistic Approach to Ethical Responsibility" and Arthur Woodworth, a pre-engineering major, wrote "Making Ethics Vital." They will speak at 4 p.m. in Room 211 Bernhard Center.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 6Dr. Laura Black, associate professor of communication studies at Ohio University, will speak on "Engaging Communities in Difficult Conversations: Dialogue, Deliberation, and Engaged Scholarship." Her presentation, part of WMU's Visiting Scholars and Artists program, is at 5 p.m. in Room 1028 Brown Hall.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 12Dr. Parker Crutchfield, associate professor of medical humanities, ethics and law at the WMU School of Medicine, will speak on "Making People Better: Saving Us From Ourselves Through Moral Enhancement." His presentation is at 6:30 p.m. in Room 211 Bernhard Center.
  • Tuesday, March 12Dr. Charlie Kurth, WMU associate professor of philosophy, will speak on "Should Politicians Be Anxious?" His presentation, which examines what appropriate anxiety involves in relation to politicians and why it is valuable, is at 6 p.m. in Room 211 Bernhard Center.
  • Monday, March 25Susan Benesch, faculty associate of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, will speak on "Social Media and Mass Violence." A Yale-trained human rights lawyer, she founded and directs the Dangerous Speech Project. Her presentation, part of the Ethic Center's annual Winnie Veenstra Peace Lecture, is at 6  p.m. in the Bernhard Center's Brown and Gold Room.

All events are free and open to the public and qualify WMU students for the University's Signature credit. Detailed lecture descriptions are available online. Direct questions to Dr. Sandra Borden, WMU professor of communication and Ethics Center director, at sandra.borden@wmich.edu.

Center for the Study of Ethics in Society

In August 1985, the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society was created after WMU faculty across the curriculum met to discuss their common interests in studying and teaching ethics. Each academic year, the center sponsors 15 to 20 public presentations addressing a wide range of ethical issues. In this and other ways, it creates interdisciplinary opportunities for the University and community to engage in public reflection about ethical issues.