Invited Speaker Archives (2015) | Philosophy & Religion

Invited Speaker Archives (2015)

Dr. Lu Feng, Tsinguah University, China

March 6, 2015Ecological Civilzation

"Because the Chinese Communist Party has emphasized the construction of an ecological civilization as the main task for whole country, the term "Ecological Civilization" has become popular in today's China. While there is no consensus concerning the meaning of the phrase, there are two prominent interpretations. One was developed within the framework of modernity, the other beyond modernity. This paper is largely a critique of the understanding of "Ecological Civilization" within the context of modernity. The fundamental mistake of modernity is its exclusive rationalism, and its materialistic orientation toward values. To save the earth and human being itself, the mistakes of modernity must be addressed."

Dr. James Kennedy, University of North Texas

April 17, 2015

Adventures in Antarctica

Nora Ward, PhD Candidate, University of North Texas

April 24, 2015

Sleeping With The Enemy: The Ethical Perils of Corporation Sponsorship

"The non-profit model is currently considered to be the primary model used to organize, campaign for and respond to ecological and environmental concerns in the US. Whereas originally non-profits were funded by members and wealthy individual supporters, funding for environmental non-profit organizations is increasingly being provided by the private sector, with many organizations now receiving more than half of their income from corporations and private foundations. Although in some cases the relationship between a corporation and non-profit is one of symbiotic bliss, these partnerships can also present dangerous ethical concerns. This presentation explores these issues, with a specific focus on how corporate sponsorship affects environmental groups. It argues that recent changes in the scale of corporate sponsorship, as well as internal transformations from within the private sector itself, leads to serious ethical issues pertaining to (1) conflict of interests and (2) patterns of dominations. Drawing on these analyses, it further considers that the present state of environmental corporate sponsorship serves to prevent a radical restructuring of society based on ecological grounds, leading instead to a pervasive climate of incremental reform and superficial change. It recommends increased transparency and regulation with regard to corporate sponsorship, as well as a consideration of alternatives to the corporate non-profit structure."

Xue Fuxing, Nankai University, China

May 1, 2015

Transition: An Eco-Concept from Zhuang Zi (Chuang Tsu)

Transition (化, Hua) is one of the core concepts in the writings Zhuang Zi (Chuang- Tzu) which embodies Zhuang Zi's ecological perspective. The basic meaning of the word of "transition" is "to change." However, what Zhuang Zi mainly talks about here is the "changing" of people's life from birth to death, and the changing of people's bodies after their death, namely, the decomposition of human being's corpses. According to Zhuang Zi, death and the decomposition of people's corpses does not mean the complete end of life; rather, it indicates that people participate in a new round of the endless process of life's ecological flow, insofar as the energy of people's corpses is assimilated by other living beings. In terms of Zhuang Zi's point of view, by the transitioning of life and death, all living beings are performing in a great never-ending drama of life. This is an ecological worldview which Chinese philosophy provides, it should be part of today's global environmental philosophy.

Kelli Barr, PhD Candidate, University of North Texas

May 8, 2015

Closing the Impact Circle: Policy-Relevant Scholarship and Its Implications for Research Practice

The language of socially relevant research and broader impacts is becoming prominent in academic and policy discourse in the US and Europe. Policy makers increasingly look to incorporate considerations of downstream societal benefits into the funding of research projects and setting research agendas. In short, researchers can no longer simply assume their work will one day benefit society in general. We are being called to explicitly demonstrate the value of our investigations to non-academic audiences.

But what does doing policy-relevant scholarship entail? What kinds of skills and situated expertise are necessary for making one's work relevant to non-disciplinary peers, and how does this differ from existing research practices? How can one tell when such work is successful? This seminar explores the practical significance of these questions for early-career researchers, particularly philosophers. It features two parts:

  1. An overview of central features of the federal policy making processes, identifying how and where academics can get involved.
  2. A discussion of several case studies illustrating the kinds of skills and tools are useful for communicating with non-disciplinary audiences.

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