The Ethics and the Common Good academic program equips students to engage critically with contemporary ethical issues and questions that are relevant to our times, our lives and our shared horizons.

Fall 2018 Courses

HACU 121: Global Contemporary Art

With Alexis Salas This introductory course explores global contemporary art produced between 1960 and 2018, with a focus on art in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, along with the practices of artists of color in the Euro-America. The course challenges art history’s Euro-American-centrism by considering the multiple histories that artwork produced on the so-called “periphery” […]

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CS 250: Environmental Ethics

With Laura Sizer Most ethical debates concern moral obligations towards human beings. But what moral obligations – if any – do we have towards non-human entities? Do non-human animals have rights? Do trees and rivers? What about entire ecosystems? What might be the basis for such rights and obligations? We will discuss how traditional ethical […]

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CSI 202: Radical Listening

With Laura Greenfield What does it mean to listen radically? This course focuses on the role of listening in communication practices geared towards sociopolitical transformation. Moving beyond listening as performance or listening as merely “active,” we will explore what kinds of listening practices open up opportunity for ethical change to happen. In particular, we will […]

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IA 265: Praxis: Facilitating Collaborative Learning for Social Change

Co-facilitated by Natalie Sowell and Javiera Benavente In this course, we will explore various theories and practices that support collective group process, shared learning, and collaborative actions with the aim of creating more just and resilient communities. Through reading, discussion, reflective exercises, and intentional community engagement, we will seek answers to questions such as: How […]

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HACU 258: Abundance: Making Art and Politics With and From a Land-base

With Kara Lynch What are sustainable practices that expand and promote our vision of freedom? This course will focus on installation and community engaged art practices in conversation with diverse media and the local ecosystem. The thematic focus of the seminar will critically engage in the question: How can we create a dynamic practice in […]

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HACU 236: Haitian Dance Technique and Theory

With Dasha Chapman In this combined technique and theory course, students will engage in the practice of Haitian dance, and support this embodied learning with study of Haitian artists, history and culture. Bi-weekly physical practice introduces students to the foundations of Haitian dance, and reading, writing and discussion familiarizes students with both important Haitian dance […]

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CSI 240: Indigenous Environmental Activism

With Ashley Smith From battles against oil pipelines and fracking on indigenous lands, to the fight for clean fish and traditional sustenance fishing rights, to the struggle for indigenous sovereignty, Indigenous peoples around the globe are engaging in social and environmental activism. In this course we will consider how the histories of dispossession and settler […]

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Spring 2019 Courses

HACU: Blackness and the Aesthetic: Aliveness, Play, Satire, and the Ordinary

With Monique Roelefs This course will explore convergences between categories of blackness and the aesthetic. Pointing to the centrality of aesthetic frameworks and concepts to black thought and cultural production, we will examine conceptual frames and artistic/literary strategies shaping the burgeoning field of Black Aesthetics, as exemplified by recent practices in the arts and everyday […]

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NS 124: HIV/AIDS: 35 Years Later

With Megan Dobro When the HIV virus was first identified as the cause of AIDS, people never imagined we still wouldn’t have a cure 35 years later. What’s happened in all that time? What is taking so long? In this seminar, we will read about the milestones of HIV research and discuss why finding a […]

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CSI: Dimensions of Populationism

With Anne Hendrixson Populationism refers to “ideologies that attribute social and ecological ills to human numbers” (Butler and Angus 2011, xxi). In this class, we will examine three dimensions of populationism: demo-, geo- and bio. Demopopulationism refers to knowledges, practices and policies that blame human numbers for global problems in order to rationalize efforts to […]

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HACU: Race Power, and Art in the Contemporary Americas

With Alexis Salas This is a course in the art practices of people of color — people of indigenous, African, Latin American, Aboriginal Canadian, Asian, and Native American descent — from across the Americas. How can we think of these practices together? How might moments of (political, artistic, historical) kinship across time and space make […]

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Past Courses

Deconstructing & Reconstructing: The US’s Role in Palestine/& Israel

An EPEC facilitated by Bar Kolodny and Desta Cantave On December 6, 2017, President Trump gave a speech formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and directed the State Department to begin the process of relocating the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Nonetheless, several hours after the announcement, he signed a six […]

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CSI/IA 347: Art of Collaborative Leadership

With George Fourlas and Daniel Ross Hampshire and Five College students will often take on positions of leadership in companies and organizations, on campus and beyond, usually with little practice or training. People often think of leadership as individualistic and autocratic, requiring outgoing personality. But there are many styles of leadership, and effective leadership is […]

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CSI 142: Reclaiming the Commons

With George Fourlas In this course we will explore communal modes of life through a theoretical and practical lens. We will engage several communitarian theorists and we will also study some of the recent pragmatic work that has been done to reclaim common space, common practices, and community as such.

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HACU/IA 190: Creative Interventions: Innovations for Change

With Deborah Goffe, Jana Silver, and Natalie Sowell Creative Interventions will deeply explore the intersections between global environmental change, sustainability, the arts, education, and social action. In particular, we will highlight the essential role that creativity and art-making plays in organizing, strategizing and initiating powerful and effective social change. Through creative thinking and expanding on […]

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IA 255: Embodying Genders, Engendering Bodies

With Djola Branner This workshop course explores principles of acting through the lens of contemporary American drama, and simultaneously pushes our perceptions of gender. In addition to expanding physical awareness, vocal expression and relaxation & focus, we will consider the ever-changing historical, cultural and social landscapes that have defined and continue to define male, female […]

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HACU 132T: Community, Photography, Storytelling

With Billie Mandle Photography’s history is rich with diverse theories and practices of community engagement and documentation; in this class students will contribute their own approach. Throughout the semester students will work closely with older members of the Amherst community, photographing together, participating in critiques and exploring photography’s ability to communicate. As a class we […]

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CSI/IA 288: For Whom It Stands: Symbolism in American Culture

With Chris Tinson and Mei Ann Teo This upper level course brings together the humanities and social sciences, in particular, theater and history in exploration of multiple, conflicting, and contested meanings of the U.S. flag. We will explore the meanings woven into the flag, artistic and political reimagining of the flag, alongside popular meanings and […]

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CSI 164T: Children’s Rights

With Rachel Conrad John Wall has written that “children’s rights are arguably the major human rights challenge of the twenty-first century.” In this course, we will critically explore approaches, controversies, ambiguities, and promise related to theory and practice concerning the rights of people under the age of 18. We will review the emergence across the […]

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CS 194: Environmental Education: Foundations and Inquiries:

With Tim Zimmerman In this introductory course, students will explore the history, practices, career options, and problems of environmental education – educational efforts promoting an understanding of nature, environmentally responsible behavior, and protection of natural resources. Shifts in environmental education research foci, relationships to current and past environmental challenges (e.g., air pollution, species loss, climate […]

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CS/IA/NS 142: Innovations for Change: Problem Solving for the Future

With Sarah Partan, Jana Silver and Seeta Sistla Worried about climate change and how we will live sustainably in the future? Join us to brainstorm and assess solutions together. This will be a course for first and second year students interested in learning how to evaluate potential solutions to current local and global environmental and […]

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CSI 244: Autonomism and Labor: Business Ethics for Radicals

The necessity of paid work weighs heavy on those who are not born into gratuitous wealth, yet it is taken as given that one must work. Indeed, in the United States there are various moral expectations associated with work, an ethos, such that if one does not work or if one’s labor does not meet the monetary qualifications of dignity, then one will probably be met with various forms of condemnation.

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CSI 147: Communicative Ethics

With George Fourlas If speech is action, as key twentieth-century and current philosophers argue, then what is it that we are doing to each other when we talk? Is linguistic injury a real thing? To what extent can, and should, we control our bodily habits of speaking and responding? In this course we will explore […]

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Ethics & the Common Good Changemaker Cohort: Group Independent Study

Facilitated by Javiera Benavente, Maya Sungold and Jamila Jackson The Ethics & the Common Good Changemaker Cohort is a practice-based learning community that supports the cultivation of relational leadership and collaborative change-making. In this course, we will engage with a variety of theories, approaches, methods, and practices to support students in developing and growing their […]

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Facilitating Change: a group independent study

Facilitated by Javiera Benavente and Alina Ortiz Salvatierra In this course, we will learn about various approaches and methods for facilitating group process, shared learning, and collaborative actions that effect and create change in the wider world. We will explore how group facilitation can be used as a tool for cultivating connections and relationships, building […]

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CSI 175: Prisons, Policing, and Punishment

Taught by George Fourlas In this course we will first analyze traditional philosophical perspectives on punishment alongside critical genealogical descriptions of how it is that certain penal mechanisms emerged and determined our present: namely, the prison-industrial complex and the militarization of police forces. We will then take up the abolitionist question and reflect on how […]

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CSI 212: The Ethics of Liberation

Taught by George Fourlas In this course, we will analyze several key texts in liberation thought. The question motivating these readings is: What does our liberation require? Our primary text will be Enrique Dussel’s recently translated Ethics of Liberation, which we will carefully read in its entirety. As we read Dussel, we will supplement the […]

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CSI 243 Global Justice: Rights, Reparations, and Peace

Taught by George Fourlas In this course we will focus on advanced topics in the global justice debate: war, human rights, and the demands of peace. We will begin with a survey of mainstream approaches to global justice, ranging from Kant’s “Perpetual Peace,” to Rawls’s Law of Peoples, and various cosmopolitan approaches. We will then […]

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CSI 147T Ethics and the Common Good Tutorial

Taught by George Fourlas This class explores the field of ethics from the starting point of a primordial tension: the experience of being an individual and a member of a relational environment. This starting point places our exploration in stark contrast to classical approaches to ethics, which focus on the consequences of individual actions, universal […]

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CSI 256 The Ethics of Curiosity: Research, Fetish, Discovery

Taught by Perry Zurn The explosion of information in the 21st century has centralized the role of curiosity and research in our everyday lives. Never have the production mills of detail been more active. But how should we research and is curiosity a good place to start? Here, we investigate the basic contours of research […]

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CSI 112 Engaging the City: Philosophy and Urban Politics

Taught by Perry Zurn The human species has quite recently become a predominantly urban one. In this course, we will analyze and practice ethical engagement with the city. We begin by investigating philosophy’s relationship to the city, stretching back to the development of dialogical thinking in the polis of Athens. How is philosophical reflection affected […]

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HACU 175 Abundance: Land-based Art and Politics

Taught by kara lynch and Javiera Benavente This course will focus on installation and performance in conversation with diverse media and the local ecosystem. The thematic focus of the seminar will critically engage in the question: How can we create a sustainable environment in which to pursue and create artistic, agricultural, ecological, and socio-economic equity? […]

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CSI 150 Prison and the Question of Ethics

Taught by Perry Zurn This course will offer students an introduction to the primary subfields of applied ethics: business ethics, biomedical ethics, research ethics, environmental ethics, and food ethics. Unconventionally, however, it will do so through the thematic of the prison. The course will analyze prison labor, mental and physical healthcare in prison, the aging prison […]

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CSI-0244 Environmental Ethics: Feminist, Queer, Crip

Taught by Perr Zurn This course is an in-depth study of environmental ethics. Reading widely in classic environmental literature, we begin by interrogating the changing referent of the term “nature,” from animals and wilderness to city parks and the organics movement. We then critically compare 1) “nature” with forms of life that are socially naturalized […]

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