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Seminars to address Islam, environment, economic justice and more

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics and Society at Indiana University has launched its inaugural round of Religion and Ethics Seminars, a yearlong series of faculty-led seminars taking place on a number of IU campuses.

The Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics and Society, founded in 2013, is an interdisciplinary group of scholars, academic programs and research centers from all eight Indiana University campuses.

The consortium's goal is to connect faculty, incubate research and creative activity, and promote awareness of IU scholarship in areas relating to religion, ethics and values.

The new seminar series is an important new step in realizing the consortium's goal, said Brian Steensland, director of the consortium and professor of sociology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

"Within the Indiana University faculty, there is tremendous expertise on topics relating to religion, ethics and values," Steensland. said "We have world-renowned scholars, but they are spread across fields and campuses. The Religion and Ethics Seminars program is a big step bringing these minds together.

"We received interest from faculty on numerous campuses and representing a variety of disciplines and professional areas, including medicine, law and business in addition to fields across the humanities and sciences," Steensland added.

The Religion and Ethics Seminar topics and their leaders are:

  • Religion, Spirituality, Healthcare and Ethics: Led by Amber Comer, Department of Health Sciences at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at IUPUI; and Alexia Torke, Department of Medicine at the IU School of Medicine. The first event in this seminar will be a talk by Wendy Cadge, Brandeis University, at noon March 9, titled "Paging God: Religion in the Halls of Medicine."
  • Islam in the American Public Sphere: Led by Asma Afsaruddin, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the School of Global and International Studies at IU Bloomington; and Abdulkader Sinno, Department of Political Science and Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the School of Global and International Studies at IU Bloomington.
  • Environmental Justice: Led by Gabriel Filippelli, Department of Earth Sciences at the School of Science at IUPUI; and Carlton M. Waterhouse, IU McKinney School of Law at IUPUI.
  • The Ethics, Values and Practices of Public Art in Urban Contexts: Led by Jason M. Kelly, Department of History at the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI; and Pamela Napier, visual communication design program at Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI.
  • Economic Justice and Inclusive Markets -- The Ethics of Doing Business With the Poor: Led by Kelly R. Eskew, Kelley School of Business at IU Bloomington; and Philip T. Powell, Kelley School of Business Indianapolis.
  • Moral Thinking in Artworks of Economic Success and Economic Failure: Led by Stephen Buttes, Department of International Language and Culture Studies at the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, and Andrew Kopec, Department of English and Linguistics at the College of Arts and Sciences at IPFW.

Each pair of faculty members will lead a seminar that meets six times over two consecutive semesters. Seminar meetings may include faculty workshops, public speakers, community events and faculty-student activities. Each seminar will set its own schedule. Details will be available through the consortium's website.

"The seminars can have different purposes," Steensland said. "Some are oriented toward public engagement. Others are oriented toward scholarly development and academic research. Some involve students, and others involve community partners. The mix of goals and activities matches the diverse ways in which religion and ethics impact society."

The consortium solicits proposals for seminars twice a year. Proposals for the next round of seminars, to begin in Fall 2017, are being accepted between March 1 and April 1.

INDIANAPOLIS -- The 2016 Spirit & Place Festival explores "home" -- as a place, a space and an idea -- through more than 50 programs, including nine Indiana University and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis events.

The festival begins Nov. 4 and continues through Nov. 13.

An initiative of The Polis Center, part of the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, the annual Spirit & Place Festival is Indianapolis' largest collaborative festival that uses the arts, religion and humanities as a vehicle for shaping individual and community life through experiences presented in partnership with more than 100 organizations.

Focusing on the meaning of "home," events will range from pet ownership to affordable housing, mass transit, art therapy, homelessness, race relations, public health, religion, home renovations and more.

IU and IUPUI Spirit & Place Festival events are:

My Earth, My Home, My Responsibility, Nov. 9. Lead partner: IUPUI Senior Academy. Through exhibits, conversations and short multimedia presentations, experts in the fields of architecture, aging and the environment will explore how our choices can help preserve our common home -- Earth -- for future generations.

Homes Before Highways, Nov. 9. Lead partner: Department of Anthropology at IUPUI. Share stories and see photos of homes and businesses destroyed on Indianapolis' south and west sides by the interstate construction of the 1960s and '70s.

Leaving Home, Nov. 10. Collaborating partner: IUPUI Medical Humanities program. Exhibit opening and panel discussion on the closure of Indiana's Central State Hospital in 1994 and the current state of mental health care in Central Indiana.

A Place to Call Home, Nov. 10. Collaborating partner: IU Public Policy Institute. How can Indianapolis end homelessness? Tell us what you think in this unique town hall meeting and workshop to create a community plan.

Chronicling Hoosier, Nov. 12. Lead partner: IUPUI University Library. What is a "Hoosier"? Learn what digital historical newspapers reveal while exploring community history.

Refugees Welcome,  Nov. 12. Collaborating partner: The Polis Center. Explore the concept of "home" through refugee perspectives with creative placemaking through art, faith and data.

Wandering to Where We All Live, Nov. 12. Collaborating partner: IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute. Art, science and curiosity combine in this exploratory walk with local artists, scientists and community members, which will explore a different way of seeing our waterways.

Genius Loci: Herman B Wells and the Spirit of Place, Nov. 13. Lead partner: professor Richard Gunderman. Deepen and enrich your connection to the Hoosier state by learning about the authentically Indiana ideas of legendary IU President Herman B Wells.

The Public Conversation/Barlow Lecture in the Humanities, Nov. 13. Part of the School of Liberal Arts' Barlow Lecture in the Humanities, also sponsored by the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI. A sculptor, a sociologist, a community activist and a political scientist will reflect on poverty, homelessness, public policy and the human spirit.

Learn more about these and other Spirit & Place Festival events at

The IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI has named Professor Emily Beckman as director of the Medical Humanities and Health Studies (MHHS) Program.

Beckman is an assistant clinical professor of medical humanities and health studies and also serves in the role of adjunct assistant professor with the Department of Medicine in the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Medical humanities and health studies focuses on educating students and the public about the broader role of health and medicine in today’s world. Humanities courses raise questions of how human beings deal with health, medical intervention, illness and death. Social science courses provide insight into the social, economic and cultural contexts of health, illness and health care.

“Professor Beckman has done a great deal to grow our Medical Humanities and Health Studies program, develop curriculum, recruit and advise students, and champion the degree across units on campus,” said Kristy Horn Sheeler, associate dean for academic programs in the School of Liberal Arts. “She is the perfect person to lead the program into the future and I am delighted she has accepted the position as our next director.”

In recent years Beckman has worked to raise the profile of medical humanities at IUPUI and nationally. An example of Beckman's work and the way in which medical humanities connects health and well-being with humanities is a recent collaborative project, "Voices from Central State.” Made up of a series of events, “Voices from Central State” brings together experts in medical humanities, museum studies, and history to investigate mental health and mental illness. Driving this project is a series of writings by patients at Indiana’s flagship mental institution, Central State Hospital (1848-1994), which provide a rare opportunity to explore and assess patient experiences of mental health care. The series kicked off on August 26 and continues Sept. 26 with artist Nanny Vonnegut presenting her grandmother Riah Cox’s memoir, “I Remember Jones,” written about Cox's hospitalization at Central State in the 1940s.

“With a growing interdisciplinary Medical Humanities and Health Studies major, and a new graduate certificate in Medical Humanities, the MHHS Program, in partnership with the largest medical school in the country, is positioned to become a leader in Medical Humanities education, research and scholarship,” says Beckman.

Beckman replaces Professor William Schneider, the program's founding director, who will continue to teach in and serve MHHS as a member of the faculty.

Four liberal arts students were recognized not only among the Top 100 IUPUI students, but also among the top 20 overall and top 10 women. Awards were presented during the April 8 Top 100 Outstanding Students Recognition Dinner.

Elizabeth Alexander (senior, Spanish), Kelly Moors (junior, neuroscience/French) Jessica Sauer (junior, journalism) and Hadyatoullaye Sow (junior, international studies, medical humanities and health sciences/public health) were recognized for their academic achievements and named top 10 female students.

Faculty and staff nominated more than 2,000 students for this year’s Top 100 honors. Among the criteria: being a degree-seeking junior or senior at IUPUI, completing a minimum of 56 credit hours applicable to her/his degree program, and achieving a minimum cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. in addition to scholastic success, judges considered extracurricular activities on campus, and civic and community service.

From the top 100 female and male students, a panel of alumni, faculty and staff chose the top 10 female and male students. From this select group, the most outstanding female and male students were selected.

The IUPUI Alumni Council and the Student Organization for Alumni Relations sponsored the event.

A complete list of the top 20 students can be found here. A full list of the Liberal Arts students in the Top 100 is available here.