In the wake of the September 11 attacks, Hiram College faculty postponed classes for the day and gathered with their students on the campus green for meaningful discussions in the form of an Ethics Teach-In. Sixteen years later, the Ethics Teach-In continues as an annual Hiram tradition.
Though yesterday’s clouds threatened rain and moved the conversations off the campus green and into the dining hall, this did not dismay students from attending.
This year’s conversations centered on the ethics theme, “What is a citizen?”
For the sake of keeping the groups small and allowing all voices to be heard, the forum was split into 13 subtopics each led by a professor of a different discipline.
Robin Shura, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of sociology, led the discussion, “’Ghost Citizens: Racism and Citizenship in the Dominican Republic.” Meanwhile, Debbie Kasper, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental studies, pushed students to think about what it means to be a part of a worldwide community.
“I like the theme this year because it can be broadly interpreted. As someone who thinks a lot about the communities we belong to, human and more, it’s good to discuss what our obligations are to each of those,” Kasper says.
Though freshmen are required to attend this event, it is open to all students and staff.
Anastasia Grossman, a junior environmental studies major, said she enjoys attending the discussions because unlike in a major-specific class, she gets to hear approaches and opinions from a variety of different views and disciplines.
She says that while many of her classes are discussion-based, the Ethics Teach-In provides a different environment for dialog.
“I’d say that being able to have these conversations without having to also think about grades or tests or other classroom things, that’s the most fun kind of learning,” Kasper says.
The discussions are a reminder that among Hiram’s goals as an institution is to teach students to participate not only in education, but in their communities.
“Colleges like ours have unique opportunities and responsibilities to model and promote conversations across differences about our fraught world and to promote involvement in civic and civil discourse,” wrote Colin Anderson, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of philosophy, George and Arlene Foote chair of ethics and values.