Empathic Understanding and the Virtuous Life

Faculty: Dr. Mark J. Krejci

Jamil Zaki, in his book “The War on Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World” reviews a range of research on the importance of developing empathy in order to motivate the process of seeking understanding in the world. In order to understand not only the role of empathy but also the motivation for empathy, this course will consider how the virtues as understood in philosophy, religion and psychology serve as a foundation for empathic behavior. In the end, we will consider why some seek an empathic understanding while others do not seek connections with others and thus contribute to what Zaki labels as an increasingly “fractured world.”

In Search of Home: Immigrants and Refugees Around the Globe and in our Community

Faculty: Dr. Lisa A. Twomey

According to the United Nations, by mid-2020 there were more than 80 million “forcibly displaced” people around the world; close to half of them were children. Who are these young people and what are their stories? This course studies the plight of immigrants and refugees across the globe by reading stories about young people from several different countries who have traveled from their homeland, often alone, in search of family or a country to welcome them. The semester begins with local stories of immigrant youth, then the focus shifts to immigrants at our southern border and finishes with a close look at the diverse undocumented immigrant population of the United States. Students also spend a significant amount of time in the community, working with English Language Learners at local schools and visiting several other places that work with immigrants. As we engage with these people and read the narratives of others around the world, we will also study immigration history and policy and developed a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the United States as a “Nation of Immigrants.”

Greeks at War

War is a tragically pervasive and strikingly perplexing part of the human experience. To understand better what war is, how it affects both combatants and non-combatants, what causes it, how to prevent or end it, we will look at war in the "distant mirror" of the ancient Greek writings on war. The ancient Greeks were both a very combative and a deeply thoughtful culture, and they have left us profound reflections on war in a number of genres: Homer's epic poetry (The Iliad), Thucydides' history of the Peloponnesian War, Aristophanes' comedy (Lysistrata), Euripides' tragedy (Trojan Women), and Plato's philosophy. Throughout the semester, we will use a number of films to connect the Greek experience of war to parallel modern experiences.