Book club series announced for spring 2023

Contact: Sandra Borden

KALAMAZOO, MI – The Center for the Study of Ethics in Society is presenting two separate online book club discussions during the spring semester that examine ethical questions surrounding poverty and racial bias in America.

Discussions begin Tuesday, Feb. 7, and continue through April 19. Participants will purchase and read the books on their own, then join the discussion leaders for lively conversations. Books are provided free of charge to the first 10 people who sign up for a book club by registering no later than one week before the group’s first meeting.

The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease” will be the center’s first book of the semester. Discussions will be led by Michael Redinger, a clinical psychiatrist who co-chairs the Department of Medical Ethics, Humanities and Law at Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine. In this book, psychiatrist and cultural critic Jonathan Metzl discusses that many Black protesters were diagnosed with schizophrenia at the Ionia State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Ionia, Michigan, during the civil-rights movement in the 1960s and 1970s. The book raises ethical questions about how racial bias and other biases are embedded in supposedly neutral psychiatric diagnostic criteria and the harms that result. Meetings will take place on Webex on Tuesdays, Feb. 7 and 21, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

The center’s second book for the semester is “Poverty, By America” by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Matthew Desmond, director of Princeton University’s successful Eviction Lab. This book club coincides with National Fair Housing Month. The discussion will be led by Kathy Purnell, senior coordinator for Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan and an instructor in Western's Department of Political Science. In the book, Desmond urges readers to think critically about poverty policies that punish those experiencing economic hardship instead of promoting belonging and freedom for all. Meetings will take place on Zoom on Wednesdays, April 5, 12 and 19 from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

Students can earn WMU Signature credit for any book club for which they attended all scheduled meetings. Learn more about the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society and its book clubs.

About the 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. Originally sponsored by the Graduate College, the center is now housed in the College of Arts and Sciences.

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