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Ethics Reading Courses at DePauw

Take a deep dive into ethics, one book at a time

Each semester, the Prindle Institute sponsors a number of quarter-credit reading courses. Each course focuses on the ethical issues in a single text for eight weeks.

Each course will meet for the first eight weeks of the semester. Class meeting spaces are noted below. If the class meets at the Prindle Institute, transportation will be provided each evening the class meets. The transportation will depart from the Union Building each Thursday at 6:50 pm. After the courses end at 8:30, students and faculty will be returned to the Union Building.

spring 2018 courses

UNIV291A: Teresa M. Bejan, Mere Civility Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration
Instructor: David Alvarez
Location: Prindle Institute
Meeting Times: First eight Thursdays of Spring 2018, 7-8:30pm
Course description: Is civility a virtue required for rationality or a tool of repression? We will tackle this question by reading Teresa M. Bejan's Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration. Bejan tackles this question historically, asking how the formation of religious tolerance in the Enlightenment continues to shape how we argue and feel about the practice of civility. After reading her book, we'll connect her analysis to campus debates about civility, politics, and race. 

UNIV291B: Mini-colloquium on Important Books: Ethics since Modernity
Coordinators: Keith Nightenhelser and Humberto Barreto
Location: Julian 300
Meeting Times: First eight Tuesdays of Spring 2018, 7-8:30pm
Course description: This Mini-Colloquium invites students to read and discuss eight historically influential books. The class meets each Tuesday evening the first half of the semester 7 - 8:30 PM, and the discussion is overseen by various DePauw professors and staff members.  The DePauw professors and staff members will not be present to teach, but rather to oversee the students' discussion -- in this all-discussion course, participation in discussion will be the sole thing evaluated in arriving at a grade.  (Think of it as a transition to post-college reading and discussion!)  Readings will be drawn from writers such as John Stuart Mill, Gertrude Stein, Ama Ata Aidoo, Benjamin Friedman, Naomi Oreskes, and Derek Walcott.

UNIV291C: Jodi Dean, Crowds and Party
Instructor: Derek Ford
Location: TBD
Meeting Times: First eight Wednesdays of Spring 2018, 6-7:30 pm
Course description: With struggles against exploitation and oppression heightening and intensifying across the globe, the questions of alternatives to our current order and how to achieve those alternatives have been brought to center stage. In this class, we will collectively read Jodi Dean's 2016 offering to these debates, Crowds and Party. Dean's book presents us with not just a diagnosis of contemporary problems but, more importantly, a solution that is both new and old: The Party. Showing how since the 1970s political movements have embraced neoliberalism--in their celebration of individualism, small-scale activity, social media snark, and consumption-based politics--she argues that the crowd offers an opportunity to push back this trend and return social struggles to the political realm. Through an interdisciplinary conversation involving psychoanalysis, affect theory, political philosophy, and autobiography, she makes the case for collectivity, solidarity, and disciplined organization. Toward the end of our class, we will have the opportunity to discuss the book with the author via Skype.

UNIV291D: Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Instructor: Sherry Mou
Location: TBD
Meeting Times: First eight Tuesdays of Spring 2018, 7-8:30pm
Course description: The ancient Chinese Art of War has decided relevance to modern society; for wars happen not only on the battlefield.  Politicians and reformists declare "wars" to social problems, real or perceived; companies compete in war terms; and the "war between sexes" is as old as human history.  What are war’s motives and goals?  This ancient text looks at wars from all perspectives and is still studied in both military academies and corporations.  It is generally known that many Japanese companies make this book required reading for the executives.  We may better understand humanity through the study of war under the guidance of the old master.

UNIV291E: Martha Hodgkins, ed., Letters to a Young Farmer: On Food, Farming, and Our Future
Instructor: Jeanette Pope
Location: Prindle Institute
Meeting Times: First eight Mondays of Spring 2018, 7-8:30pm
Course description: The question "how shall we eat?" raises important moral questions about the relationship between humans and nature and invites people to consider the costs of food production through economic, social, and environmental lenses. Each one of these aspects has ethical considerations as society grapples unknown answer of how we will sustainably feed 9 billion people. This course will explore farming and modern agriculture with the readings compiled in the recently published Letters to a Young Farmer edited by Martha Hodgkins. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to connect their classroom knowledge to applied practice by working on DePauw's campus farm.

UNIV291F: Chris Hedges, Wages of Rebellion
Instructor: Caroline Good
Location: Prindle Institute
Meeting Times: First eight Mondays of Spring 2018, 7-8:30pm
Course description: Chris Hedges' Wages of Rebellion tracks the rebels throughout history that embodied what he calls "sublime madness."  This course will examine the societal woes that spur these rebels and whistle-blowers to rise up and will explore the inevitability of revolution that drive them to rebel against  empirical powers, pervasive government surveillance, a growing incarceration system, or the corporate state.  As a way of extending these stories and ideas, the class will include a creative component that will involve bringing these stories and issues to life.