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by rjp218 Apr 01, 2015
by Betsy VanNoy Jan 29, 2019
by khepler Jul 21, 2015
Contributors: Mark Fisher
by SKeira Apr 15, 2015
by wav103 Mar 15, 2018
by SKeira Jul 22, 2015
by rjp218 Apr 11, 2017
by khepler Apr 07, 2015
Contributors: Jameliah Inga Shorter
by Betsy VanNoy Nov 14, 2018
by Betsy VanNoy Apr 19, 2019
by SKeira Apr 15, 2015

The Clinic and Elsewhere: Critical Conversations on Trans and Intersex Wellness

by Betsy VanNoy Jan 29, 2019
The Clinic and Elsewhere speaker series is sponsored by the Gender and Sex Equity Initiative of the Rock Ethics Institute (REI) and is convened by Hilary Malatino, a core faculty member of the REI and Assistant Professor in the Department of Women's Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State. See press release here

The Clinic and Elsewhere speaker series is sponsored by the Gender and Sex Equity Initiative of the Rock Ethics Institute (REI) and is convened by Hilary Malatino, a core faculty member of the REI and Assistant Professor in the Department of Women's Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State.

See press release here 

Schedule:

  • October 24, 2018 - Julian Gill-Peterson
  • November 28, 2018 - Ellen Feder
  • January 23, 2019 - Aren Aizura
  • February 20, 2019 - Eric Plemons 
  • March 21, 2019 - Susan Stryker

Short Description (find long description at end of announcement):
The Clinic and Elsewhere: Critical Conversations on Trans and Intersex Wellness is a lecture series that will bring scholars from the fields of trans and intersex studies into conversation with Penn State students, faculty, and staff, as well as the broader central Pennsylvania community, in order to analyze and further develop strategies to ameliorate forms of medical and administrative violence that impact trans, intersex and gender non-conforming (GNC) subjects accessing or attempting to access health care and wellness services. 

Speakers:

Julian Gill-Peterson
Date: October 24, 2018
Time: 5:00pm
Location: 67 Willard

Title: The Intersex and Trans Invention of Gender: On Children’s Self-Determination
Abstract: The contemporary concept of human gender has an origin in mid-twentieth century medicine, derived from dehumanizing and unethical clinical research with transgender and intersex children. This talk examines how the medicalization of intersex and transgender young people overlapped in this era, shaping the abstract idea of normative gender by dismissing the agency and knowledge of kids. Considering the very different landscapes of pediatric transgender and intersex care today, the historical overlap of these fields offers important resources for critiquing medical models and imagining what childhood gender self-determination can look like.

Bio: Julian Gill-Peterson is Assistant Professor of English and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. They are the author of Histories of the Transgender Child (2018). Julian is currently at work on a new book project entitled Gender Underground: A History of Trans DIY.

Ellen Feder 
Date: November 28, 2018
Time: 5:00pm
Location: 201 Thomas

Title: Curiosity, Ethics, and the Medical Management of Intersex Bodies
Abstract: To consider the recent history of the medicalization of intersex bodies requires acknowledgment of the ways that such bodies have been made “curiosities,” objects of scientific investigation associated with harms now recognized as human rights violations. In this presentation, I propose that focusing on curiosity itself may help us better understand and appreciate the moral violation of medical treatment of intersex. I also suggest that examination of curiosity in this context may challenge some settled beliefs about this history of the standard of care, and furthermore help us to better appreciate the consequences of a refusal to be curious.

Bio: Ellen Feder is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at American University, where she also teaches in the program in Women and Gender Studies. She has been an active member of ISNA since 1999, when she first presented a paper at the American Philosophical Association that considered the failure of bioethicists to intervene in the medical management of intersex. She has since published work resulting from interviews she conducted with parents of children with intersex, and was a member of the Hastings Center working group, “Surgically Shaping Children.” She is also a member of ISNA’s Medical Advisory Board.

Aren Aizura
Date: January 23, 2019
Time: 5:00pm
Location: Foster Auditorium

Title: Hell Holes Or Saviors: Transnational Visions of Southeast Asian Trans Surgery
Abstract: This talk investigates political economies of risk logic by looking at how transnational trans and queer studies comprehend trans people’s patronage of “back alley surgeons.” I compare online reviews of and videos about Pratunam Polyclinic, a walk-in aesthetic surgery clinic in Bangkok, Thailand with a large trans clientele, which some consider a “hellhole” but which others describe as a renowned center for transgender surgeries. This comparison troubles the exceptionalist logic that global north nations offer the best surgical care and yield the most satisfied trans surgery candidates. Arguing that the spectral other of the “high quality” or “caring” surgical procedure is a subject thought to be condemned to mutilation, disfigurement, and unimaginable pain and suffering, I show how this spectralizes and marginalizes low-income trans people (particularly trans and gender nonconforming people outside the global north) who access low-cost surgical procedures as naturally risky or insensitive to “bad” care. 

Bio: Aren Aizura is an assistant professor in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota. His work has appeared in numerous journals, including  Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Medical Anthropology: Cross-cultural studies in health and illnessAsian Studies Review, and ADA: A Journal of Gender, New Media and Technology and the edited collections Queer Necropolitics, Trans Studies: Beyond Homo/Hetero Normativities, Transfeminist Perspectives in and beyond Transgender and Gender Studies, Transgender Migrations: The Bodies, Borders, and Politics of Transition (ed. Trystan Cotton, Routledge, 2011), and most recently an essay on queer/trans archives in Samuel Steward and the Politics of the Erotic (Ohio University Press, 2017). With Susan Stryker, he co-edited the Transgender Studies Reader 2 (New York: Routledge, 2013) and is also the co-editor of a special issue of TSQ, Decolonizing the Transgender Imaginary (1:3-4, 2014). He is on the Editorial Board of TSQ, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, and the Expanding Frontiers series at University of Nebraska Press. His book project, Mobile Subjects: travel, transnationality and transgender lives, was published by Duke University Press in November. 

Eric Plemons
Date: February 20, 2019
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Location: 162 Willard

Title: Surgery Without Surgeons: how clinical gaps shape trans-embodiment
Abstract: Since 2014, public and private insurance coverage for transgender Americans’ surgical care has increased exponentially. Training clinicians and equipping institutions to meet the surge in demand has not been as rapid. Through ethnographic research at a surgical workshop focused on trans-genital reconstruction and in a US hospital working to grow its transgender health program, in this talk I show that effects of the decades-long insurance exclusion of trans-surgery are not easily remedied through the recent event of its inclusion because patient access is not the only thing that has been restricted by coverage denial. Lack of funding has also limited the development and circulation of technical skills required to perform these procedures, and the administrative processes needed to integrate them into existing clinical workflows. A close look at the growing practice of facial feminization surgery—desired by many prospective patients but outside the logic of contemporary trans-therapeutics—makes clear that gaps in clinical logic continue to shape how, as what, and by whom practices of surgically mediated trans- embodiment are materialized. 

Bio: Eric Plemons is Assistant Professor in the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. As a medical anthropologist and clinical ethnographer, Dr. Plemons's research focuses on the politics and practice of transgender medicine and surgery. His first book, The Look of a Woman: facial feminization surgery and the aims of trans- medicine (Duke University Press, 2017) was awarded the 2017 Ruth Benedict Prize for outstanding monograph by the Association for Queer Anthropology. His current research examines the ways the US institutions are responding to a growing demand for transgender healthcare.

Susan Stryker
Date: March 21, 2019
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Location: Foster Auditorium

Title: Psychedelic Trans: Whiteness, Plasticity, and Socio-Somatic Transformation
Abstract: It may be mere coincidence that in the 1860s, one of the first cities in the United States to pass laws against cross-dressing was home to the first plastics factory in the United States, but since the middle of the 19th century, notions of transness, plasticity, and bodily transformation have been linked in popular culture as well as medical and scientific thought. This lecture, drawn from the forthcoming book What Transpires Now, develops the concept of a "plastic aesthetics" in order to extend recent work in trans studies on the relationship between race, whiteness, and the capacity for socio-somatic transformation in the direction of a psychedelic transformation of consciousness, by focusing on intersections of the human potential movement, psychedelic experimentation, and transgender medicine in the life and work of mid-twentieth-century trans philanthropist Reed Erickson. 

Bio: Susan Stryker is Associate Professor of Gender and Women's Studies, as well as Director of the Institute for LGBT Studies; she also holds a courtesy appointment as Associate Professor in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences.  She is the author of many articles and several books on transgender and queer topics, most recently Transgender History (Seal Press 2008). She won a Lambda Literary Award for the anthology The Transgender Studies Reader (Routledge 2006), and an Emmy Award for the documentary film Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria (Frameline/ITVS 2005). She currently teaches classes on LGBT history, and on embodiment and technology. Research interests include transgender and queer studies, film and media, built environments, somatechnics, and critical theory.

Long Description:

“The Clinic and Elsewhere: Critical Conversations on Trans and Intersex Wellness” will bring scholars from the fields of trans and intersex studies into conversation with Penn State students, faculty, and staff, as well as the broader central Pennsylvania community, in order to analyze and further develop strategies to ameliorate forms of medical and administrative violence that impact trans, intersex and gender non-conforming (GNC) subjects accessing or attempting to access health care and wellness services.

This seminar series is critical in multiple senses. It is critical in terms of timing, as rollbacks to gains in trans health care coverage loom on account of the Trump administrations’ reinterpretation of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), an anti-discrimination clause that had formerly been understood to include trans persons under the rubric of sex discrimination.  This reinterpretation rejects the inclusion of trans subjects as a protected group, threatening to chip away at the widening of access to certain transition-related procedures heralded by the passage of the ACA.

Moreover, it is critical in its cognizance that the recent expansion of coverage has predominately enhanced access to care for transnormative and more significantly resourced trans and GNC subjects, failing to address the circumstances that compromise access to healthcare for multiply marginalized trans, intersex, and GNC subjects. Denials of transition-related services continue to occur, access to insurance coverage remains uneven, many procedures fall beyond the purview of coverage, and trans/GNC patients continue to report harassment, harm, and neglect in medical settings. The long-term impacts of trans-specific hormone use continue to be under-researched, and the dearth of trans-competent physicians persists. Intersex subjects find a ready and willing medical apparatus should they seek technologies of sex “normalization,” but are confronted with a lack of competent medical care when seeking medical treatment not related to their intersex condition.

Finally, it is critical of the ways in which medical transition and intersex sex “normalization” has been framed as the sine qua non of trans and intersex experience, and understands this as part of the fraught legacy of medical pathologization that remains intimately interwoven with the intelligibility of trans and intersex identities and the legibility of trans and intersex rights claims. This has produced a hegemonic understanding of transition as teleological, with a clear pre- and post-, beginning and end, that is too often determined by intensively Eurocentric, dimorphic gender ideals that many – perhaps most – subjects, trans, intersex, or otherwise, fail to realize. This encourages a relation to transition that hinges on what Jasbir Puar has termed “piecing” (The Right to Maim, 45): a disintegrated focus on components of corporeality that are each evaluated with respect to norms of gendered embodiment and accordingly commoditized by the medical-industrial complex. Procedures that modify certain of these pieces may be covered by insurance – if one has it, if one can litigate rejections to coverage – but many (facial feminization surgery, post-mastectomy chest reconstruction, tracheal shaves, electrolysis) are not. This piecing together of embodiment is “galvanized through mobility, transformation, regeneration, flexibility, and the creative concocting of the body” and “performs medicalization as strategic embodiment” (Puar 45). The ability to piece together a body that passes is severely economically circumscribed; “piecing” is thus primarily aspirational for all but the most privileged transnormative subjects. Trans and gender non-conforming subjects marshal resources, however minimal, over the long-term in order to garner access to “piecing” procedures, and this long-term deferral of access is experienced by many as a conscription to forms of violence, debility, and incapacitation that are indexed to one’s inability to pass as cisgendered – administrative violence, housing, employment, and educational discrimination, familial rejection and communal shunning, and lack of access to quality medical care.

Expanding understandings of health, wellness, and care beyond the purview of the medical industry is integral if we are to delink trans experience from medical pathologization; it is also imperative to address if we are concerned, broadly, with how to render trans lives more livable. The contemporary state of trans and intersex health care is informed by what Adele Clark has termed “stratified biomedicalization,” where health is hegemonically defined by biomedicine and technoscience, simultaneously, “as a moral obligation, as a commodity, and a mark of status and self-worth” (Metzl, Against Health, 6) and access to the commoditized markers of “good health” is monetized, for-profit, gate-kept, and often outright denied to poor and working-class subjects. “Trans health” is too often used as a synonym for medicalized transition, which is a strategic deployment that simultaneously enables activism around access to a limited range of biomedical technologies of transition while disabling alternative conceptions of trans and intersex health that are less readily assimilated to the highly individuated, neoliberal profit logic of the medical-industrial complex.

The purpose of this series to generate collaborative, interdisciplinary answers to the following question: how can we generate conceptions of health and wellness that address access to medical transition but foreground the (often more exigent) questions of access to housing assistance, trans-competent primary care, redress of workplace discrimination, counseling, communal support and solidarity, and freedom from interpersonal, communal, state, sexual, domestic, administrative, and police violence? 

The Best Man: Questions for Consideration

by khepler Jul 21, 2015
Contributors: Mark Fisher
In the 1964 screen adaptation of Gore Vidal's play, The Best Man, William RUSSELL quotes the philosopher Bertrand RUSSELL early in the film. Here is the complete quotation from Bertrand Russell:

In the 1964 screen adaptation of Gore Vidal's play, The Best Man, William RUSSELL quotes the philosopher Bertrand RUSSELL early in the film. Here is the complete quotation from Bertrand Russell: 
 
Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be even more stupid than nature made them. 
 
(Bertrand Russell, New Hopes for a Changing World)
 
What do you think? 
 
Is there a relationship between honesty and intelligence? 
 
Does our political system tend to favor stupidity or intelligence? 
 
Do voters in The Best Man distrust Bill Russell because of his intelligence? 
 
Do they trust Joe Cantwell because he isn't as bright? 
 
How does the film show us that Cantwell does not have Russell's intellect?
 

If Bertrand Russell was right about most voters, is he wrong about Gore Vidal? 

 
Is Vidal taking a position on honesty and intelligence? Does his script have a readable message?
 

This movie was made in 1964. Would the evidence Bill Russell has against Joe Cantwell work to Russell's advantage or disadvantage in 2012? Would the evidence Cantwell has against Russell work to Cantwell's advantage or disadvantage?Did Russell do the right thing by not spreading the rumor about Cantwell? 

 
Is it the voter's right to know about a politician's personal life? 
 
What do we have a right to know about? His sex life? His income tax return? His bad behavior as a teenager? His religious beliefs? 
 
How do we determine the "character" of a leader? Through his policies? His personal history? His religious beliefs? 
 
Why is Russell so disdainful when speaking of the "Gallup Poll?" What does he have against taking polls? 
 
Is Bill Russell a believable character? Is he too good to be true? Is the former president right? Must a politician sacrifice part of his soul in order to be effective? 
 
Could a candidate running for president in 2012 admit to being an atheist? Why does or doesn't religion belong in politics?

Ten Practical Policy Consequences of Acknowledging That Climate Change Is An Ethical Problem.

by SKeira Apr 15, 2015
If climate change is understood as essentially an ethical problem, several practical consequences for policy formation follow. Yet it would appear there is widespread failure of those engaged in climate change policy controversies to understand the enormous practical significance for policy formation of the acknowledgement that climate change is a moral issue

I. Introduction.

If climate change is understood as essentially an ethical problem, several practical consequences for policy formation follow. Yet it would appear there is widespread failure of those engaged in climate change policy controversies to understand the enormous practical significance for policy formation of the acknowledgement that climate change is a moral issue.

Given the growing urgency of the need to rapidly reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and the hard-to-imagine magnitude of global emissions reductions needed to stabilize atmospheric concentrations at reasonably safe levels, the failure of many engaged in climate change controversies to see the practical significance of understanding climate change as an ethical problem must be seen as a huge human tragedy.

The evidence for this widespread failure to understand the practical significance of seeing climate change as a moral issue includes the almost universal failure of the press or advocates of climate change policies to ask those governments, businesses, organizations, or individuals who oppose national climate change policies on the grounds of national economic cost alone whether they deny that in addition to national economic interest nations must comply with their obligations, duties, and responsibilities to prevent harm to millions of poor, vulnerable people around the world. In the United States and other high-emitting nations there is hardly a peep or a whisper about the practical consequences of seeing climate change as a world-challenging ethical problem.

Without doubt, there are several reasons why climate change must be understood essentially as a civilization challenging ethical problem. Many have asserted that climate change is an ethical problem, but few appear to understand what practical difference it makes if climate change is seen as an ethical problem.

Why is climate change fundamentally an ethical problem?

First, climate change creates duties, responsibilities, and obligations because those most responsible for causing this problem are the richer developed countries or rich people in developed and developing countries, yet those who are most vulnerable to the problem's harshest impacts are some of the world's poorest people around the world. That is, climate change is an ethical problem because its biggest victims are people who have done little to cause the immense threat to them. .

Second, climate-change impacts are potentially catastrophic for many of the poorest people around the world if not the entire world. Climate change harms include deaths from disease, droughts, floods, heat, and intense storms, damages to homes and villages from rising oceans, adverse impacts on agriculture, diminishing natural resources, the inability to rely upon traditional sources of food, and the destruction of water supplies. In fact, climate change threatens the very existence of some small island nations. Clearly these impacts are potentially catastrophic. Yet there is growing evidence that greenhouse gas levels and resulting warming may be approaching thresholds that could lead to losing control over rising emissions.

Third, climate change must be understood to be an ethical problem because of its global scope. If other problems are created at the local, regional or national scale, citizens can petition their governments to protect them from serious harms. But at the global level, no government exists whose jurisdiction matches the scale of the problem. And so, although national, regional and local governments have the ability and responsibility to protect citizens within their boarders, they have no responsibility to foreigners in the absence of international law. For this reason, ethical appeals are necessary to motivate governments to take steps to prevent their citizens from seriously harming foreigners.

Although many have acknowledged that climate change must be understood as an ethical problem, the practical significance for policy formation that follows from this recognition appears to be widely not understood. The following are ten practical consequences, among many others, for policy formation that flow from the acknowledgement that climate change is an ethical problem. Although there are some climate change ethical issues about which reasonable ethical principles would reach different conclusions about what ethics requires, the following are conclusions about which there is a strong overlapping consensus among ethical theories. The ethical basis for these claims have been more rigorously worked out in prior articles and are not repeated here to reduce complexity.

II. Ten Practical Consequences of Acknowledgement Climate Change Is An Ethical Problem.

If climate change is an ethical problem, then:

1. Nations or sub-national governments may not look to their domestic economic interests alone to justify their response to climate change because they must also comply with their duties, responsibilities, and obligations to others to prevent climate-change caused harms.

2. All nations, sub-national governments, businesses, organizations, and individual must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to their fair share of safe global emissions. Although different theories of distributive justice would reach different conclusions about what "fairness" requires quantitatively, most of the positions taken by opponents of climate change policies fail to pass minimum ethical scrutiny given the huge differences in emissions levels between high and low emitting nations and the enormity of global emissions reductions needed to prevent catastrophic climate change. Any test of "fairness" must look to principles of distributive or retributive justice and must be supported by moral reasoning.

3. No nation may refuse to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to its fair share of safe global emissions on the basis that some other nations are not reducing their emissions to their fair share of safe global emissions. All nations must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to their fair share of safe global emissions without regard to what other nations do.

4. No national policy on climate change is ethically acceptable unless it, in combination with fair levels of greenhouse gas emissions from other countries, leads to stabilizing greenhouse gas atmospheric concentrations at levels that prevent harm to those around the world who are most vulnerable to climate change. This is so because any national position on climate change is implicitly a position on adequate global atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration stabilization level and all nations have a duty to prevent atmospheric greenhouse concentrations from exceeding levels that are harmful to others.

5. Because it has been scientifically well established that there is a great risk of catastrophic harm from human-induced change (even though it is acknowledged that there are remaining uncertainties about timing and magnitude of climate change impacts), no high-emitting nation, sub-national government, organization, business, or individual of greenhouse gases may use some remaining scientific uncertainty about climate change impacts as an excuse for not reducing its emissions to its fair share of safe global greenhouse gas emission on the basis of scientific uncertainty. The duty to prevent great harm to others begins once a person is on notice that they are potentially causing great harm, not when the harm is absolutely proven.

6. Those nations, sub-national governments, organizations, businesses, and individuals that are emitting greenhouse gases above their fair share of safe global emissions have obligations, duties, and responsibilities for the costs of adaptation or damages to those who are harmed are will be harmed by climate change.

7. Given the magnitude of potential harms from climate change, those who make skeptical arguments against the mainstream scientific view on climate change have a duty to submit skeptical arguments to peer-review, acknowledge what is not in dispute about climate change science and not only focus on what is unknown, refrain from making specious claims about mainstream science of climate change such as the entire scientific basis for climate change has been completely debunked, and assume the burden of proof to show that emissions of greenhouse gases are benign.

8. Those nations or entities that have historically far exceeded their fair of safe global emissions have some responsibility for their historic emissions. Although the date at which responsibility for historic emissions is triggered is a matter about which different ethical theories may disagree, at the very latest nations have responsibility for their historical emissions on the date that they were on notice that excess greenhouse gas emissions were dangerous for others, not on the date that danger was proven.

9. In determining what is any nation's fair share of safe global emissions, the nation must either assume that all humans have an equal right to use the atmosphere as a sink for greenhouse gases, or identify another allocation formula based upon morally relevant criteria. All nations have an ethical duty to explain why any deviation from per capita greenhouse gas emissions is ethically justified.

10. Some economic tools frequently used to evaluate public policy on climate change such as cost-benefit analysis that don't acknowledge responsibility for allocating the burdens for reducing the threat of climate change on the basis of distributive justice are ethically problematic.

By:

Donald A. Brown, 
Associate Professor, 
Environmental Ethics, Science, and Law
Penn State University
dab57@psu.edu

TEDxPSU Talk with Yael Warshel: Do media have the power to impact peace?

by wav103 Mar 15, 2018
Are peace media interventions a waste of money; or alternatively, effective? If so, when, how, and for whom, can their outcomes be ethically improved? Rock Research Associate Yael Warshel presents highlights from her upcoming book as part of the TEDxPSU series.

TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch Watch Party

by SKeira Jul 22, 2015

Join the TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch Watch Party at Penn State on November 6, beginning at 11:30 a.m. in 100 Life Sciences Building.

Free and open to the public to attend any or all sessions.

TEDx Talk w/Jonathan Marks: Governments should fight corporations, not collaborate with them

by rjp218 Apr 11, 2017
Conflict is bad; compromise, consensus and collaboration are good — or so we're told. Lawyer and bioethicist Jonathan Marks challenges this conventional wisdom, showing how governments can jeopardize public health, human rights and the environment when they partner with industry. An important, timely reminder that common good and common ground are not the same thing.

Conflict is bad; compromise, consensus and collaboration are good — or so we're told. Lawyer and bioethicist Jonathan Marks challenges this conventional wisdom, showing how governments can jeopardize public health, human rights and the environment when they partner with industry. An important, timely reminder that common good and common ground are not the same thing.

Taking out the Trash

by khepler Apr 07, 2015
Contributors: Jameliah Inga Shorter
The aim of this blog series is to reflect on sustainable living practices that will inspire change in us.
(http://bit.ly/17xjv7B)

The aim of this blog series is to reflect on sustainable living practices that will inspire change in us.

In 2011, The Environmental Protection Agency reported that Americans disposed of 250 tons of trash, which is about 4.4 pounds of trash a day per person. Perhaps some those items could have been safely reused or passed along to someone who needed them. Instead, these items are dumped into massive landfills. At Penn State, we are taking up the challenge to reduce and reuse the waste that is too often simply tossed away.

The habit of throwing things in the trash presents an ethical challenge. Some of these ethical questions are: What part do we play in prolonging the life and health of our planet? What should we do to help our fellow human beings get the things they need? To be more ethical in this regard means changing our habits when it comes to the trash can. We need only to recognize the problem and be deliberate about making better choices. Penn State University has recently launched a campus wide movement to reduce and reuse trash in the spaces where we work and learn. Together, we are closing the loop on waste!

One of the obvious objections is that we just can't save every piece of trash. This is a valid point, however, with a change in mindset, we can save or reuse things. Think of some of the items you've recently thrown away and consider how they could have been reused. In fact, it is to our benefit to make such changes. Some benefits include saving money. For example, an empty butter tub can be reused as a container in the office to hold paper clips. Aluminum foil can be safely reused again, so long as it hasn't touched meat. With regard to composting biodegradable items, the benefits include enriching the earth's soil and preventing pollution. Whenever we reuse and compost, we make the choice to keep things that can be used again from rotting in landfills.

What are some of the ways you reduce and reuse items at Penn State and at home? Please share your comments below!

 

Take Note: The Ethics of Policing in the United States

by Betsy VanNoy Nov 14, 2018
Take Note interviewed the keynote speakers from the Ethics of Policing Conference, hosted by the Rock Ethics Institute.

Listen to the podcast here

Franklin Zimring, from the University of California, Berkley, studies police use of lethal force in the United States.

Vesla Weaver, from Johns Hopkins University, studies how contact with the criminal justice system affects political engagement.

Michael Walzer, from the Institute for Advanced Study, studies the differences between police and soldiers.   

Take Note: Lawyer And Author Bryan Stevenson On What Justice Requires

by Betsy VanNoy Apr 19, 2019
We talked with Stevenson about our criminal justice system, his book and the work of the Equal Justice Initiative. Click here to listen to the podcast.

We talked with Stevenson about our criminal justice system, his book and the work of the Equal Justice Initiative.
Click here to listen to the podcast.

Sustainability

by SKeira Apr 15, 2015

The Rock Ethics Fellows recently met to discuss ethical issues related to sustainability, particularly the sustainability of certain human practices and systems. In general, a practice is thought to be sustainable if it does not compromise the ability of future generations to lead economically, socially, and environmentally decent lives.

The discussion focused on what is required in order to live sustainably. This included questions about human population. Although it is unclear what the "carrying capacity" of the planet is for human population, there is presumably some limit to how many humans can live sustainably on the Earth. However, it is unclear whether or how population growth should be curbed, as doing so might involve violating certain rights of various persons.

The topic of how to manage finite resources was also considered. It was suggested that transitioning to renewable energy sources would be much more sustainable than current energy sources, most of which rely on limited stores of fossil fuels.

Finally, the issue of sustainability was connected to social justice. In particular, ethical sustainability seems to depend on the notion that present persons have duties to future generations. These duties are thought to require currently living persons not to deplete the resources that might be needed by future persons, as well as to protect the environment from degrading in ways that could harm the well-being of such future persons.