E/RS Lectures focus on the common good

By: Max Bruns ~Staff Writer~

While Xavier has seen a 180-degree reworking of what is called the “undergraduate core curriculum.” in the past fiver years, a consistent staple of the old core remains in the form of the Ethics/Religion and Society focus. E/RS courses, as well as its annual lecture series continue to innovate and expand within the boundaries of the new curriculum. The old core consisted of requirements that took up a lot of credit hour space, while the new system allows students greater freedom to explore academic interests.

According to Xavier’s website, “The goal of this carefully structured sequence of courses is to foster students’ understanding of socially significant issues from the perspectives of the humanities, especially literature, philosophy and theology, as well as the perspectives of the social and natural sciences.” The focus mandates several courses in theology, literature, philosophy and one elective. In addition, the E/RS structure gives Xavier the unique privilege to host a lecture series every year on topics related to the E/RS courses.

The lecture series has been hosted every semester since 1998 and is currently directed by philosophy professor Dr. Gabriel Gottlieb. This semester, the theme of the series is “Imagining the Good: Community, Equality, Environment.” The 2016 fall circuit begins on Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. in the Kennedy Auditorium with a discussion between John Fairfield and Tyrone Williams about why thought matters.

This year, the much anticipated guest of the series falls on Sept. 26 at 7 pm in Cintas Center, when award-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates is coming to engage students in a discussion about Race in America. Given the presidential election platforms and the movement “Black Lives Matter,” this talk has been advertised heavily and is selling out at a rapid pace. The anticipation for Coates’ lecture is causing waves in the larger Xavier community.

Coates’ lecture isn’t the only one in the series stirred up by the 2016 election cycle as it relates to race. On Oct. 11, a panel of faculty members will discuss the topic of immigration as it has been handled by our current presidential candidates. The panel includes Mack Mariani, Julie O’Hara, Anas Malik and Paul O’Hara. The location and time of this event are still to be determined.

Finishing up the circuit, Elizabeth Anderson will speak on racial justice and mass incarceration on Oct. 20 at 7 pm in the Kennedy Auditorium. Anderson is a professor of philosophy and women’s studies at the University of Michigan and has authored the award-winning book The Imperative of Integration. Finally, on Nov. 10, Samuel Moyn, Harvard professor of law and history will speak on human rights and history.

Each year, this lecture series provides Xavier with an academic platform to engage its students in discussions about human concerns that exist within the campus and throughout the rest of the world. E/RS has remained one of Xavier’s most notable and unique focuses since its beginning, and has recieved multiple grants within the last twenty years to continue moving forward and providing students with informative and intellectual speakers.