Letter to the editor – Responding to last week’s article, “Deciding the debate: Center for Ethics speaker selection”

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The following letters are in reference to the article “Deciding the de- bate: Center for Ethics speaker selction.” The article covered the process the Center for Ethics took in choosing speakers for the Troubling Truth series as well as the involvement of Dana Students in influencing those decisions. Dr. Mello and Dr. Hashim comment on aspects of this process that the article misrepresented regarding the Dana program.

 

To the Editor:

Next year I will become Director of the Center for Ethics, and I want to take this opportunity to correct some important inaccuracies and confusion that emerged in the February 15 issue of this paper about how the CFE operates, and what its relationship to the DANA Scholars Program is. CFE programming is a faculty and sta responsibility — the director reports to the Provost, and the CFE Advisory Board is made up of faculty from programs across the campus. The Director of the Center for Ethics coordinates the process for proposing and selecting themes, consults with the CFE Advisory Board in selecting among proposed themes, and in consultation with the Provost selects directors from the faculty and/or sta to shepherd the theme through the planning and implementation processes. At times program directors include the author of speci c proposals, but on many occasions directors are not the original authors of the proposal. In short, it is normal for directors to modify, expand, and/or narrow initial proposals as they move toward implementing the program. ALL Students may weigh in with suggested themes and add input for program directors to consider, but the job of selecting the theme is NOT a DANA student responsibility, and frankly, not a student responsibility at all. The Center regularly solicits input from the DANA Scholars Program because of the long-standing relationship of the DANA Forum to the CFE program, but the DANA program does not, has not, and will not determine CFE programming, who the program directors are, or what the nal version of the program looks like. The article published last week, in short, presents an incorrect understanding of the selection of CFE topics and programming. The engagement across the campus with many events from this year’s program is a testament to the out- standing work Maura Finkelstein and Lora Taub have done in building and carrying out the Troubling Truth program. This year’s program will conclude with a student-driven event on April 13 that will allow for integration of events and reflection on the program’s theme.

Here is the text of the call for proposals that went out to all faculty and selected sta at the start of this semester:

I’d like to invite you to offer suggestions for Center for Ethics themes for academic year 2018-2019. Program ideas should address the Center’s Mission: “The Muhlenberg College Center for Ethics seeks to develop our capacities for ethical reflection, moral leadership, and responsible action by engaging community members in scholarly dialogue, intellectual analysis, and self-examination about contested ethical issues.” Preference will be given to themes that can at- tract attention from across academic divisions; that provide opportunities for advancing the College’s curricular goals around integrative learning and/or human difference and global engagement; that support the civic engagement mission of the College; or that foster connections between student and academic life (e.g. innovative connections with Residential Life, Multicultural Life, or the Center for Civic Engagement).

-Dr. Brian Mello

To the Editor:

I want to follow up on Dr. Brian Mello’s letter to the editor, which makes reference to the recent article published about the Center for Ethics (CFE) and its connection to the Dana Scholars program. I want to reiterate that the Dana Scholars program never had any institutionalized role in determining the CFE program. On a number of occasions, a Dana student proposed an idea that the CFE Director and Faculty Advisory Board supported. In the end, the CFE Annual Program Director and the CFE Director ne-tune and develop the nal version of the program and its contents. Each year, I strongly urge Dana Juniors to attend the CFE planning meeting, so that they can weigh in on the discussions around next year’s proposed theme. I also urge them to submit their own proposals that can be discussed at the planning meeting. They are urged to have a voice in the deliberations on choosing the next year’s CFE theme since the theme will shape their Dana capstone experience – the Dana Forum. It is, however, not accurate to suggest that the Dana program shapes the CFE’s annual program. Students having a voice in a planning meeting does not mean that they are deciding on the nal version of the program. I sit on the CFE Faculty Advisory Board. I can advocate for or against a certain proposal, but I do not determine the nal program either. The Dana program looks forward to continuing its relationship with the CFE.

-Dr. Mohsin Hashim

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It is the policy of The Muhlenberg Weekly to foster relationships with its readership, including through discourse in its Opinion/Editorial section. Therefore, members of the College Community are encouraged to submit Letters to the Editor on any topic of interest to Muhlenberg, in direct reference to an article or otherwise.

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