Hiram College


Mind and morality: Where do they meet? That’s the question Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Debbie Kasper, Ph.D., answered when she won the Mind and Morality Curriculum Competition sponsored by the Center for Humans and Nature.

kasperThe Center for Humans and Nature is a national organization that brings together some of the brightest minds from philosophy, ecology, art and more, to explore relationships between humans and nature. Over the summer, the organization called upon educators to craft and submit a course curriculum on the topic of mind and morality, using an interdisciplinary approach to make information more teachable to high school and college students. Dr. Kasper’s winning submission earned her the chance to travel to New York to participate in the organization’s “Questions for a Resilient Future” gathering.

“I heard about the contest on an environmental sociology listerv,” said Dr. Kasper. “I thought ‘that’s a really cool idea and sounds like fun, but I’m too busy.’ Then it came back through a different listerv and it was so intriguing, I couldn’t let it go.”

Kasper modeled her submitted curriculum after Hiram’s First-Year Colloquium, and she hopes to teach it soon to incoming freshman. She sought to explain the overarching theme of interdependence in human morality through various components of life: the divine, physical, biological and social. Tying together multiple disciplines of study to look more holistically at a subject was nothing new for a member of Hiram’s intellectually curious and integrative faculty.

“As an environmental studies professor, we’re always asking these kinds of questions in our program,” Dr. Kasper said. “It was really fun and gratifying to be able to show other people the kinds of things we do here and to put that out on a national stage. A class like this is particularly well suited for Hiram. And it was fun to hear Hiram College’s name get called out at the symposium.”

The New York symposium, which took place Oct. 26, 2015, was centered on the connections between cultures and conscience. The Center for Humans and Nature’s Senior Scholars, anthropologist Melvin Konner and social psychologist Jonathan Hadit answered this while is discussion with Krista Tippet, host of On Being. While there Dr. Kasper interacted with other top scholars and the family of the founder of the organization.

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