2015-2016: Borders

The annual ethics theme for 2015-2016 is Borders and a rich set of programs and curricula will take shape across various departments and Centers of Distinction. The novel “Into the Beautiful North” by Alberto Urrea, will serve as the Common Reading to introduce and raise questions surrounding this theme for the Class of 2019 and the broader campus community.

Borders: An Ethical Discussion

Since the early years of human history, people have constructed both tangible and intangible boundaries around land, events, time, ideas and even people. Throughout this academic year, the Hiram community will reflect on what those constructs really mean, why they exist and the implications they have on society at large.

As the campus explores the concept of borders and the accompanying Common Reading, the following questions will be points of discussion in the classroom, at lectures and at other campus events:

  • Immigration and migration issues: Do we have a “right” to prevent the free movement of peoples? Why or why not?
  • How do we draw borders between nations and what consequences have there been from the legacy of colonial border drawing?
  • What sort of obligations do Americans – or people in other affluent nations – have towards refugees and migrants? Can closed borders be justified?
  • Cosmopolitanism: Can one truly be a “citizen of the world?”
  • What ecological borders exist and what can we learn from native species and invasive species?
  • Are there natural borders between biological species? How might our answer to this connect to the preservation of species?
  • Many ethical issues arise from trans-border phenomena including resources such as water or our atmosphere. How should we think about problems that arise when our political borders don’t align with “natural” borders?
  • Globalization: From proclamations of a “flat world” to concerns with globalization, it seems that humans live in a new epoch in which space and distance have been radically transformed. How do these phenomena change how we must think?
  • What is the border between life and death? When does life begin? When does it end?
  • What is a border or a boundary? Are there any real borders, or are borders and boundaries human constructions?
  • Disciplinary borders: How do we bound our disciplines such that we recognize some authors, scholars, or researchers as belonging to one discipline rather than another?
  • Temporal borders and boundaries: Some have argued that World War I and II were not really separate events, but one continuous conflict. How do we separate eras, events and periods? What are the implications of choosing one boundary over another?
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