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 Center for Ethics promotional image for the 2020 calendar

The 2020-2021 Center for Ethics series began on Friday, September 11 with a series of monthly faculty discussions about The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt and guest speaker videos related to the dilemmas of engaging in speech and action. It continues with a faculty panel discussion and a live webinar on Mohsin Hamid's novel Exit West on September 18 and 25, respectively. November 12 and 13 bring a virtual campus visit and live webinar guest lecture by Teng Biao, a former lecturer at the University of Politics and Law in Beijing, China and recent Grove Human Rights Scholar at Hunter College. All programs are available virtually to the Muhlenberg community and the public unless otherwise noted.

Event Schedule

Faculty Reading Group - Vita Activa, Engaging Arendt on Speech and Action
Over the course of the College's academic year, faculty will engage as a cohort with The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt. While the reading group is for Muhlenberg faculty only and is currently full, the entire College community and the public are encouraged to complete the readings. Following each guest speaker's talk, public links to the presentation videos will be available here. The Center will also host a virtual mini-conference in April 2021 to share their reflections and discoveries.

  • Discussions of "Contradictions on Free Speech" by Inside Higher Ed writer Greta Anderson and video presentation by Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò, assistant professor of philosophy at Georgetown University and philosopher on the histories of activism and activist thinkers, the Black radical tradition, and the relationship between power and education, working also in the domain of public philosophy. 
    September 11, 2020,  at 2 p.m.

    • Discussion of Chapter 1 of The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt and a video presentation by Luvell Anderson, associate professor of philosophy and affiliate faculty member in African American Studies and Women’s & Gender Studies at Syracuse University.
      October 9, 2020, at 2 p.m.

  • Discussion of Chapter 5 of The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt and a video presentation by Ashley Farmer, author of Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era and assistant professor of history and African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas-Austin.
    November 20, 2020, at 2 p.m.

  • Discussion of Chapter 6 of The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt and a video presentation by Paula Austin, a US historian with a focus on African American history, particularly interested in broadening the narrow definitions of intellectual history. She is assistant professor of history and African American studies at Boston University.
    December 11, 2020, at 2 p.m.

The Faculty Reading Group guest speaker video presentations are co-sponsored by the Multicultural Center and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.


Opening Panel - Exit West as a Form of Speech and Action

Panel Video Release - Sept. 18, 2020 (View video archive above)


Live Webinar Discussion - Sept. 25, 2020 - 2:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Access the Webinar

In the hope that it may be possible to bring Mohsin Hamid to campus this year, after his spring 2020 visit was postponed, the College is once again using his novel, Exit West, as a Campus Reads text. We hope that many classes will choose to engage with this novel throughout the year. Our 2020-2021 program, Engaging in Speech and Action, will offer an opening panel that reads the novel, not so much through the lens of borders and identity—last year’s theme—but as, itself, a form of speech and action. An opening panel of faculty will offer their reflections on the novel in a video discussion that will be publicly released on September 18, 2020. Then, on September 25, 2020, an open discussion will be held during Common Hour (2-3:15 p.m.) via Zoom.

Faculty Panelists:

Emanuela Kucik, English and Africana Studies
Mohsin Hashim, Political Science
Dawn Lonsinger, English
Leticia Robles-Moreno, Theatre and Dance
Mark Stein, History

 Virtual Campus Visit - November 12-13

Live Webinar Public Lecture - November 13 at 2 p.m.
Zoom Link

“From 1989 to 1984: The Formation of China’s High-Tech Totalitarianism,” a Scholars-at-Risk Guest Lecture with Teng Biao, human rights activist, academic lawyer and former lecturer at the University of Politics and Law in Beijing, China.

Following Biao's public lecture, Muhlenberg's Assistant Professor of Anthropology Casey Miller and Professor of Media & Communication Jeff Pooley will lead an open discussion and a guided Q&A session.


 "Engaging in Speech and Action" will continue into the Spring 2021 semester with group discussions of chapters from Kathryn Sophia Belle’s (formerly Kathryn Gines) monograph, Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question, and additional contemporary scholarship on engaging speech and action.

About "Engaging in Speech and Action"
Hannah Arendt, following Aristotle, argued that the capacity to speak and act in the world constitutes distinctly human capabilities. Increasingly our moment, and our campus, is defined by growing concern about ways we impose on others and on ourselves limits to our capacity to speak and to act. In order to foster the capacity to speak and act in a time of increasing polarization, technological complexity and political uncertainty, this Center for Ethics program will support programs designed to engage the community in a series of events and development workshops that explicitly seek to build and foster speech and action.