Learning communities schooled in ethics, art


On Wednesday, March 30th, the Learning Community Advisory Board hosted their second LC Ed talk, where faculty members inspired students in the Learning Community program with words on topics like social justice and ethics. The LC Ed Talks take inspiration from TED Talks and aim to spread ideas to Saint Louis University students and help them think outside of their horizons.

The SLU Learning Communities are groups of students who live together, take classes together and do service together based on shared interests, like life science, social change or service—to name a few. Faculty are an important part of the LC experience, because every community has a faculty mentor who teaches a class, offers advice and is available to the students. The LC Ed Talks program was created to help the students hear from and form relationships with other faculty members besides the ones involved in their communities.

The first speaker of the night, Dr. Scott Berman, an associate philosophy professor at SLU, talked about “A Scientific Explanation of Socrates’ Ethical Truths”. He discussed the nature of ethics and realism versus constructionism. Dr. Berman explained that disagreements that cannot be resolved occur because everyone has different ethical values, but that “disagreements about scientific truths can be resolved using empirical evidence—no such thing is available with ethical disagreements.”

Socrates’ ideas about means and ends were brought up, which lead Dr. Berman to introduce a dizzying concept—that “at the moment you do something, you don’t know if you want to be doing it.” He states that you need the clarity obtained after the action has taken place to know if you truly want something, which is why advice from others is so important. His Ed Talk allowed the LC students to think about the connection of ethics and science in a world that puts science above everything else—even ethics and values.

The last speaker, Mrs. Ilene Berman (the wife of Dr. Berman), is a fine arts professor at SLU, who gave an Ed Talk titled “Art Can (and Should) Change the World”. Her talk focused on socially engaged art—art that directly impacts people. Socially engaged art is about talking and listening to the community that the artist is trying to impart change on without taking advantage of, or hurting, the people in it. Mrs. Berman states that these artists want to “change the history of the world, not just the history of art.”  The main point is that art should be used to affect change in the world and should always be viewed with a critical eye because every choice an artist makes has a purpose.

The LC Ed Talks were a successful event for the learning communities, with over 100 students in attendance. While there are no more of these talks planned for this year, the LC Advisory Board plans on offering them next year to anyone who wants to attend – not just LC members. The LC Ed Talks spread new ideas to the students. Katie Kane, a Learning Community RA, said that, “They broadened my perspective, in that they helped me to see ways we can take action towards social justice in techniques that are different than traditional avenues.” Make sure to look out for the LC Ed Talks coming next year so that you, too, can broaden your perspectives.

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