The Rock Ethics Institute

Initiatives

Previous Events

by Rob Peeler Jul 21, 2015

Brown Bag Series - Empathy is a choice: The limits of empathy are more apparent than real

When: Mar 16, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Where: 133 Sparks Building, University Park, PA 16802

Empathy, or the ability to feel what others feel, is often seen as a powerful moral force. But what are its limits? Many studies find that empathy is less sensitive to large-scale suffering (e.g., natural disasters, genocides) and the suffering of racial and political out-groups. These empathy deficits have led some scholars to argue against empathy, concluding that it is an unreliable basis for moral action. In this talk, he suggest that limits on empathy are more apparent than real: what appear to be built-in “glitches" in empathy may instead be due to motivated choices we make to avoid empathy’s costs. He will present a motivational framework for understanding empathy, and will discuss evidence that seemingly fixed limits on empathy can shift depending on what we want, and choose, to feel. If empathy limits are flexible choices rather than fixed constraints, this challenges strong normative arguments against the usefulness of empathy in everyday life. He will conclude by discussing implications for ethical debates about empathy and future directions in research on empathy as a choice. Brown Bag Series - Empathy is a choice: The limits of empathy are more apparent than real - Read More…

Brown Bag Series - Beyond White Privilege: Geographies of White Supremacy and Settler Colonialism

When: Feb 16, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Where: 133 Sparks Building, University Park, PA 16802

This presentation builds from scholarship on whiteness and white privilege to argue for an expanded focus that includes settler colonialism and white supremacy. Specifically, Dr. Inwood will argue that engaging with white supremacy and settler colonialism reveals the enduring social, economic, and political impacts of white supremacy as a materially grounded set of practices that continues to frame the making of space and place in the United States. As a result, he will situate white supremacy not as an artifact of history or as an extreme position, but rather as the foundation for the continuous unfolding of practices of race and racism within settler states. Finally, he will illustrate this framework through a recent example of a land dispute in the American West. Brown Bag Series - Beyond White Privilege: Geographies of White Supremacy and Settler Colonialism - Read More…

Job Talk - Stripped to the Bone: Sequencing Queerness in the Comic Strip Work of Joe Brainard and David Wojnarowicz

When: Feb 16, 2017 at 9:30 AM
Where: 216 Willard Building, University Park, PA 16802

In this talk, I develop a queer theory of comics strip form by exploring the comics work of mixed-media artists Joe Brainard and David Wojnarowicz. Both New York residents of lower Manhattan at key moments in the development of contemporary U.S. queer culture—gay liberation and the AIDS crisis respectively—Brainard and Wojnarowicz showed artistic affinity with the comics medium throughout their short-lived but prodigious careers in the 1970s and 1980s. In the early 1970s, Brainard adopted the classic comic strip character Nancy in a series of paper works that functioned as enlarged comic strips; in these panels, Brainard depicted Nancy in a variety of radical sexual and social positions (as transgendered, high on drugs, performing in a pornographic movie, and much more) that allowed viewers to imagine a traditionally American icon as a potentially queer one inhabiting multiple, non-synchronous identities. Little more than a decade later, in David Wojnarowicz’s graphic memoir, 7 Miles a Second (1988-1993), the artist and his collaborators James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook, used the visual disjoint between comic strip panels to formally dramatize the experience of social alienation and physical pain associated with being a queer person with AIDS. Through a historically situated close reading of these two works, I show how Brainard and Wojnarowicz each deployed the formal codes of the comics medium to articulate emergent affective orientations towards transformations in alternative sexual cultures; consequently, I argue for an understanding of comic strip sequence as a formal expressions of modern queer sexuality as an unpredictable unfolding of countless erotic possibilities. Job Talk - Stripped to the Bone: Sequencing Queerness in the Comic Strip Work of Joe Brainard and David Wojnarowicz - Read More…

Brown Bag Series: The Ethics of Yoga: - Walt Whitman’s Spiritual Democracy

When: Feb 02, 2017 at 12:00 PM
Where: 133 Sparks Building, University Park, PA 16802

The yoga world has been rocked by a number of scandals in recent years. It seems that many teachers of yoga have not heeded the basic ethical guidelines found in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, especially the imperative to practice ahimsa, non-harming of others. One might be excused in wondering if yoga has any ethics at all. I believe that yoga can represent an important contribution to contemporary conversations about ethics. Brown Bag Series: The Ethics of Yoga: - Walt Whitman’s Spiritual Democracy - Read More…

Co-Sponsored Event - Coffee Hour with Derek Alderman: MLK Streets as Unfinished Civil Rights Work: The Need for Counter-Storytelling in a Trump America

When: Jan 20, 2017 at 3:30 PM
Where: 319 Walker Building, University Park, PA 16802

Over the past twenty years or so, I have researched the politics of naming America’s streets for Martin Luther King, Jr (MLK). These roadways, which represent the most widespread and contentious memorials to King, have proven to be important sites for understanding the politics that continue to surround the civil rights leader’s reputation and legacy. Co-Sponsored Event - Coffee Hour with Derek Alderman: MLK Streets as Unfinished Civil Rights Work: The Need for Counter-Storytelling in a Trump America - Read More…

24th Annual Critical Theory Roundtable

When: from Nov 11, 2016 9:00 AM to Nov 13, 2016 5:00 AM
Where: Oak Building, University Park, PA 16802

The keynote lecture, "Critique and Disappointment" will take place on Friday, November 11. The Saturday sessions will take place form 9 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. and the Sunday sessions from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is free, but required as you are free to attend a subset of the Roundtable. Please register at https://pennstate.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2aSskoJoUd0WzdP 24th Annual Critical Theory Roundtable - Read More…

Co-sponsored Event: Every 28 Hours

When: Oct 29, 2016 at 7:00 PM
Where: Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, University Park, PA 16802

This collection of 75 one-minute plays was inspired by the widely shared -- yet hotly contested -- statistic that every twenty-eight hours a black person is killed by a vigilante, security guard, or police officer in the United States. Originally created and produced by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and The One-Minute Play Festival in response to events in Ferguson following Michael Brown's death, the plays were curated from playwrights nation-wide. Co-sponsored Event: Every 28 Hours - Read More…

Co-Sponsored Event: Beating Injustice: Police Killings, Mass Incarceration, and Making Real Change Happen Right Now

When: Oct 11, 2016 at 6:00 PM
Where: Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, University Park, PA 16802

A Rhodes scholar and the youngest person ever to lead the NAACP, Ben Jealous is known for being one of the most effective civil rights leaders of our day. However, it was not always clear that he would follow this path. In this speech, Jealous tells the inside history of more than 50 years of great civil rights battles, both known and unknown. He offers insight both into what our nation's greatest change agents have in common, and shows how we can all dramatically increase our capacity to make the world a better place. Co-Sponsored Event: Beating Injustice: Police Killings, Mass Incarceration, and Making Real Change Happen Right Now - Read More…

Co-sponsored Event - Western Bombs, Eastern Societies: The Destruction of Nations and Responsibility to Protect

When: Oct 05, 2016 at 5:00 PM
Where: Lewis Katz Auditorium

After the fiasco of the Iraq War of 2003, the West pushed for a new mandate through the UN called the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in 2005. This new mandate revived ideas of humanitarian intervention that had been called into question from the detritus of Iraq. No lessons were learned. After R2P came Libya, a society now in ruins, and then came Syria, a country whose civil war had been fanned along even as no good outcome seemed on the horizon. This talk will explore the landscape of intervention and its perils. Co-sponsored Event - Western Bombs, Eastern Societies: The Destruction of Nations and Responsibility to Protect - Read More…

Co-sponsored Event: African Feminisms around the World

When: Sep 23, 2016 at 9:30 AM
Where: Foster Auditorium, 102 Paterno Library, University Park, PA 16802