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We are excited to announce the three PPE reading group selections for the fall 2020 semester! We will send out the space request form for these groups during the first week of classes. Keep an eye out for the email!

Anger and Forgiveness, Martha Nussbaum

Leader: Delaney Thull

Meets Mondays

Martha Nussbaum’s Anger and Forgiveness argues that political anger often takes on a simple retributive character, where the only way for the harmed party to feel restored is to see their oppressor suffer. On her view, political forgiveness often complements this anger, requiring a performance of self-abasement as a condition for public reconciliation. She looks at case studies of anger, from tense workplace relationships, to post-apartheid South Africa, and the American criminal justice system. And she brings the ideas of Ancient Greek Stoic philosophers into conversation with the more recent work of political activists, including King, Mandela, and Ghandi, in order to argue for a vision of civic generosity. In these days of deep political disagreement, readers will benefit from developing a critical understanding of both the danger and the power of anger in politics.




Christ and the Common Life, Luke Bretherton

Leader: Sam Schmitt

Meets Tuesdays

Democracy is in doubt or backsliding all over the world, including the United States. Many are unmoved by impartial, theoretical support of democratic society. Instead of speaking from ‘nowhere’, Luke Bretherton’s Christ and the Common Life (2019) makes an explicitly Christian case in favor of democratic government and the democratic way of life. While the text certainly makes a case for democracy, it is much more than that. Reading and critiquing this book will help us understand the interweaving of economic, political, theological, gendered, and racial conflicts in democratic societies–making the case that Christians ought to be committed to democracy for a number of reasons. The book engages thinkers as diverse as Elinor Ostrom, James Cone, Arendt, Augustine, Hayek, Hobbes, Carl Schmitt, Kant, Marx, and John Paul II. If all that is not enough, Prof. Luke Bretherton (the author) has generously agreed to join one of our last meetings to discuss the text and answer questions. This reading group is sure to be an interdisciplinary feast!




The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness, Michelle Alexander

Leader: Karl Adam

Meets Wednesdays

Do you want a place to have thoughtful discussions about the impacts of the American criminal justice system on the black community?  Do you want to learn from dialog with other students over what changes would make the criminal justice system and its policies more just and how those changes can be brought about?  Then join us to discuss legal scholar Michelle Alexander’s best-selling book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, which is “One of the most influential books of the last 20 years” (Chronicle of Higher Education) and a must read.

Alexander argues that the criminal justice system, in its current form, functions much like the Jim Crow laws of the past to keep black people in the role of second class citizens.  Along the way she addresses such topics as the political forces shaping criminal justice policy; the role and powers of the police; the economic impacts of a criminal record for job seekers; the psychological, economic, and political impacts of mass incarceration on the incarcerated, as well as their families, friends, and communities; and the, in her view mistaken, priorities of civil rights organizations.  We will read, analyze, discuss, explore and evaluate Alexander’s arguments so that we can come to a better understanding of the nature of racism in America and be armed with the knowledge and tools to be effective participants in building a better future.


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