Center for Ethics Announces 2022-2023 Theme, Fall Schedule

The Muhlenberg College Center for Ethics has announced the theme of the 2022-2023 academic year: 'Speculative Futures.' Several events in the series will be co-sponsored by the College's Living Writers and Election Series programs. 

 Wednesday, August 17, 2022 03:29 PM

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About Speculative Futures

Our contemporary moment is shaped by the pressures of multiple, simultaneous crises: between the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing crises of political legitimacy, growing economic inequality, the onslaughts of white supremacy and xenophobia and the looming threat of irrevocable climate disaster, the future seems intractable and murky.

Longstanding questions about what the future holds are haunted by doubts and the scale of systemic issues. Fears about scarcity and the changing world seem to hamper opportunities for solidarity and coalition-building. At the same time, this juncture presents an opportunity to reimagine the futures we want and how we might get there. In thinking about the future as something speculative — and something we might speculate about — we might collectively resist fatalism and think instead about the world we hope to create. We might think about how art helps us envision alternative possibilities, how native and evolving technologies change the ways we relate to each other and the world, how philosophy hazards rearrangements that could unlock future ways of being and knowing and how shifts in forms of political engagement offer us new opportunities for resistance.

The 2022-23 Center for Ethics program directors are Archana Kaku, Consortium for Faculty Diversity Fellow of Political Science and Dawn Lonsinger, associate professor of English. The Center Director is Mark Stein, professor of history. 

Fall 2022 Schedule of Events

Visit the Center for Ethics event webpage for more information and a synopsis of each event this semester.

"Binti and Africanfuturism: an Invitation to the Conversation.”
7 p.m., Wednesday, September 7, 2022 at Miller Forum in Moyer Hall
Faculty panel participants: (English & Africana Studies),  (Philosophy) and  (History)  

Faculty from across campus will discuss this year’s Common Read in the context of the Center theme. Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian-American author of African-based science  fiction, fantasy, and magical realism. She coined the term “Africanfuturism," a sub category of science fiction that is "directly rooted in African culture, history, mythology,  and point-of-view, and does not privilege or center the West,” and offers alternative  visions of the future. Her works include Who Fears Death (currently being developed  into an HBO TV series), the Binti novella trilogy, The Book of Phoenix, the Akata books and Lagoon. She is the winner of Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Locus, and Lodestar  Awards, an Eisner Award nominee, and her debut novel Zahrah the Windseeker won the  prestigious Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature. Nnedi has also written comics for Marvel,  including Black Panther: Long Live the King and Wakanda Forever and the Shuri series.  Nnedi is also creating and co-writing the adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed with  Viola Davis and Kenyan film director Wanuri Kahiu.  

Lehigh Valley Symposium on CRISPR Implementation and Ethics (LV SCIE)
Saturday, September 17, 2022, at 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lafayette College
The Lehigh Valley Symposium on CRISPR Implementation and Ethics (LV-SCIE) is an interdisciplinary gathering of scientists, humanists, researchers, students, and the general public to discuss the implications of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology. The Center for Ethics will help with transportation for students interested in attending the conference. Free transportation is available to and from the conference. For information on registration and transportation contact Dr. Bruce Wightman, [email protected].

Performances of “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Südwestafrika, Between the Years 1884–1915”
Thursday, September 29 & Sunday, October 2, 2022
Six actors gather to tackle the challenge of theatrically presenting the little-known story  of the first genocide of the 20th century. Armed only with boxes of letters from German  soldiers they sent home to their wives and families, our characters are maneuver how to  tell the history of this Genocide when the only record that remains is of the perpetrators.' If that was not enough of a challenge, they must also maneuver how to talk to each  other about racism, genocide, and systemic oppression. 

Performance Schedule:
Thursday, Sept. 29, 8:00 pm
Friday, Sept. 30, 8:00 pm
Saturday, Oct. 1, 2:00 & 8:00 pm
Sunday, Oct. 2, 2:00 pm

Center for Ethics Workshop: Historical Constraints for Speculative Futures
Friday, September 30, 2022 at 2 p.m., at Miller Forum in Moyer Hall
How are the futures we can imagine constrained, produced, and shaped by history/histories? In We Are Proud to Present, we are presented with two different forms of discrimination and racial violence from different times and places. And yet, these two moments have real resonances and interconnections: examining the genocide of the Herero through the lens of racism, slavery, and the lynching of Black bodies in the American South, the actors find themselves haunted by traces of the past. What resources do these legacies of violence offer us for imagining a more liberated future?
Faculty participants:  (History),  (Education), (Sociology) and  (English & Africana Studies),  (History),  (Theatre & Dance)

"Notes on Dis place/meant" Public Talk by Fred Moten, Co-Sponsored with Art and Theatre &  Dance
Tuesday, October 11, 2022, at 8 p.m. at the Recital Hall in the Baker Center for the Arts
Supported by the Charles A. and Leona K. Gruber Lectureship in the Arts. Moten is a leading American cultural theorist, poet, and scholar whose work explores critical theory, black studies, and performance studies.    

In Conversation with Nnedi Okorafor, Co-Sponsored with 
Monday, November 7, 2022 at 7 p.m. in Moyer Hall's Miller Forum
Emanuela Kucik, assistant professor of English and Africana studies, speak with author Nnedi Okorafor about her novel Noor, an Africanfuturist solarpunk science fiction novel, which is a thoughtful rumination on biotechnology, tradition, destiny, and humanity in a near-future Nigeria. It’s a "searing techno-magical indictment of capitalism [that] exposes the cracks in this technology driven, highly surveilled society,” as well as a "critique of imperialism and capitalism’s ties to climate disaster."  

Elisabeth Anker Lecture, Co-Sponsored with the  Election Series
Thursday, November 17, 2022, at 7 p.m. in Moyer Hall's Miller Forum
Freedom is the highest ideal in American politics, but its legacy is complex. Throughout American history, freedom has supported emancipation, personal rights, and individual liberty, but has also supported white supremacy, economic exploitation, and misogyny. These “ugly freedoms” legitimate the right to harm and subjugate others. This talk will examine the ugliness of freedom, from the history of slavery to the January 6 insurrection. But it will also highlight visions of freedom that emphasize the flourishing of all people, not just a privileged few. 

Elisabeth Anker is Associate Professor of American Studies and Political Theory at George Washington University. An eminent scholar of critical theory and cultural analysis, Anker's most recent work reckons with the complex legacy of freedom offered by liberal American democracy. Drawing out the interlinkages between individual liberty  and white supremacy, settler colonialism, climate destruction, economic exploitation and patriarchy, Anker offers new ways of thinking past our contemporary impasses and  towards new practices of freedom. 

About the Muhlenberg College Center for Ethics

The Muhlenberg College Center for Ethics seeks to develop our capacities for ethical reflection, moral leadership and responsible action by engaging community members in scholarly dialogue, intellectual analysis and self-examination about contested ethical issues. Through thematic lectures and events, the Center for Ethics serves the teaching and study of the liberal arts at Muhlenberg College by providing opportunities for intensive conversation and thinking about the ethical dimensions of contemporary philosophical, political, economic, social, cultural and scientific issues. In service to its mission, the Center for Ethics hosts special events and programs, provides faculty development opportunities and provides support for student programming.