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Collecting History Now

No matter the conflict, time keeps ticking by, and who better to measure it than museums? Here, the history collected is still a living, painful truth. In Ferguson, MO, the ashes of the riots after the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson are still quite literally being cleaned up. But they are not being cleared away — the Missouri History Museum is planning an exhibit on civil rights, and this chapter of history is playing a large role. Continue reading “Collecting History Now”

Join the Prindle Intern Team!

Are you looking for an opportunity to enrich your DePauw experience and share your passions with others, while gaining valuable skills that will help you in virtually any career?

As a Hillman Intern at The Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics, you will be exposed to a wide variety of experiences that will challenge you and stimulate your personal growth. You will have a chance to express yourself by engaging in critical ethical thinking in a wide range of disciplines and by sharing ethical issues that you care about with fellow DePauw students, faculty, and a wider community beyond DePauw.

An internship at the Prindle Institute offers:

1. Knowledge

A primary goal of a Prindle internship is ethics education: ensuring that each intern is well-equipped to examine the complexities of ethical thinking and choice. Prindle Interns, or “Printerns” are exposed to a variety of global and societal issues through discussions with fellow interns, meeting visiting scholars and guest speakers, and attending Prindle events.

2. Skills

An internship at Prindle will provide you with a set of skills that you will serve you well in virtually anything you decide to do. You will gain communication skills by writing for the Prindle Post. You will be exposed to social media management, Prindle event marketing, and event programming. Printerns practice creativity and critical thinking, conflict management, and public speaking through the wide variety of roles available to them, and have the flexibility to determine how they can best contribute.

3. Power

As a Printern, you will have the power to share ethical issues that you care about with the community, and to choose how to share them. You have the ability to create conversation and change on campus, and will have the resources to call attention to and critically discuss topics that you are passionate about. In the past, Prindle Interns have chosen to hold events on topics such as sustainability, gender equality, food justice, international relations, biomedical ethics, and racial equality.

Applications for 2015-2016 are due Sunday, February 15.

For more information about internships at the Prindle Institute and how to apply, click here.

Ethics of School Cancellation – Day of Inclusion

With the recent announcement of details regarding DePauw University’s Day of Inclusion activities, some in our community have questioned whether cancellation of school and requirement of attendance is warranted for this large-scale community discussion and day of learning. On DePauw’s intellectually driven campus, it is important to analyze the ethics involved with such a decision, and for us to come together as a community in solidarity.  Continue reading “Ethics of School Cancellation – Day of Inclusion”

Decreasing Sexual Assault: Should Sororities Host Parties Too?

Beer pong cups on a table.

Officials at Brown University have ruled that the fraternities Phi Kappa Psi and Sigma Chi “created environments that facilitated sexual misconduct” at fraternity parties. Brown University isn’t the first college where stories of sexual assault at fraternity parties have made national news. There was the situation with the Rolling Stone University of Virgina incident which resulted in a ban on fraternities until January 9. Colombia University student Emma Sulkowicz, famous for carrying her mattress around until her rapist is expelled, attended President Obama’s State of the Union on January 20.  With sexual assault being a very real fear for students nationwide, some sororities have decided that they should host their own parties.

Continue reading “Decreasing Sexual Assault: Should Sororities Host Parties Too?”

Cannabis and Cancer

An Australian man was arrested and stripped of his parental rights after treating his 2-year-old daughter with cannabis oil. Adam Koessler’s daughter has been diagnosed with stage-4 neuroblastoma, which develops from immature nerve cells. The cannabis oil was used in addition to diet changes, chemotherapy, and nautropathic medicine.  Although he says that his daughter’s quality of life was greatly improved by the use of supplemental medicinal-grade cannabis oil, medical marijuana treatments are illegal in Australia.

Continue reading “Cannabis and Cancer”

Can You Own Yoga?

Can you own an ancient practice? India has recently appointed a “Minister of Yoga” to the Cabinet, and begun compiling a library that demonstrates how to “properly” do yoga. Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants yoga to be recognized as an Indian tradition. While nothing official has been released, the government appears to be moving in the direction of proposing a geographical indication; this is the same trade indication that the European Union has in regards to champagne, which can only be produced in the same-named region of France. This would be part of the Indian government’s campaign to improve infrastructure and manufacturing sectors, including improving the economy has a whole.

Continue reading “Can You Own Yoga?”

Repurposing Buchenwald: Housing Refugees

A photo of the Buchenwald concentration camp today.

Should refugees seeking asylum be housed in former concentration camp barracks? Schwerte, Germany, is planning to house 20 asylum seekers in a satellite post at former Buchewald concentration camp. While the barracks were used for guard’s quarters and not as housing for the camp’s slaves, some refugee groups have said that it is in poor taste. The building in question has had numerous other purposes since the camp closure in 1945; it has been a kindergarten, a site for war wounded, and a storage facility. There has been a push to retire Nazi-era sites from use, for purposes of historical remembrance and respect. But is using the sites of former atrocities to allow people to escape atrocities in their own countries a valid form of atonement for these sites?

Continue reading “Repurposing Buchenwald: Housing Refugees”

What the Government Can See and No More?

A photo of an iPhone in a charging dock

If the government can’t see it, should you be allowed to communicate with it? British Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday that if he is reelected, his Parliament will draft a bill that bans messaging applications that encrypt data so that the government cannot view it. Certain messaging applications’ style of encryption makes it difficult to access, even if the government has a warrant or a subpoena. This include applications like iMessage, Snapchat, Google Hangouts, Skype, and WhatsApp. Wireless companies and service providers would be asked to provide more information about their customers to the government, and then banned if they do not cooperate.

Continue reading “What the Government Can See and No More?”

Field Trips for High-Profile Juries

An empty courtroom

In a typical criminal trial, the jury is shown pictures or videos of the crime scene as evidence. When photos or videos do not provide enough information for the jury to make their decision, a judge can grant a “jury view.” This allows juries to go to the scene of the crime and examine the area for themselves. Recently, the judge in the ex-NFL player Aaron Hernandez’s murder trial granted a jury view.

Continue reading “Field Trips for High-Profile Juries”

The Dead on Facebook

Two people working on laptops with the Facebook logo in the background.

Should Facebook suggest posts about the dead on your News Feed? In her article for The AtlanticShirley Li wrote about her experience with Facebook suggesting she like a page that was a memorial to a woman who died in 2013. The woman had died in a tragic fire (in a house with a history of code violations and overcrowding), but seemingly had no connection to Shirley Li. After some intensive digging, Li found that an old Facebook friend of hers had liked the page but hidden her likes, although there was no other connection. Photos of the dead woman continued to appear on her News Feed. Facebook explained the posts were showing up because Li was in the target demographic for the ad campaign began by the administrator of the page; when Li contacted the administrator, the administrator explained that herself and the deceased’s mother posted frequently on the page to share the deceased’s story and keep her memory alive. People can offer condolences, come together to grieve, and remember her. Since Facebook has no “in memoriam” option for starting pages, the page is treated just like any other page and sent out like an ad campaign.

Continue reading “The Dead on Facebook”

Convicted Felons in Professional Sports

Receiving employment after prison can be difficult for many who are released; in fact, unemployment can lead to multiple offenses in the long run. While rehabilitation is generally good for society, are there certain jobs that convicted felons should not be allowed to have? There are certainly restrictions on jobs, such as sex offenders cannot work with children;  but should they be allowed to return to professional sports?

Continue reading “Convicted Felons in Professional Sports”

Ebola in the News

A sign for a medical facility in Sierra Leone.

Although the American news coverage has dropped off significantly, the death toll in the Ebola epidemic in West Africa continues to rise. It is currently approaching 10,000 victims, and 6/10 of the people currently suffering from the disease will likely die. Over 8,000 people have died and over 20,000 have been infected. The news cycle has moved on, however, now that the disease has left American shores. While people in the United States were suffering from the disease, fear was high about an epidemic breaking out in America; the news took advantage of that. But with the disease remaining containing in West Africa and no current cases in America, interest has waned and so has reporting.

Continue reading “Ebola in the News”

Sex Stings and Property Seizure

A laptop open to Facebook

After a year-long investigation in Tampa Bay, Florida, a news station has revealed that police have been using dating sites to arrest men as sex offenders who had no interest in underage trysts. Many of the men arrested had posted ads for women who were 18 and older – all legal adults – and police pretended to be adult women and then later told the men they were underage. One man was interested in an adult woman, who said she had an underage ‘sister’ who liked him, and was charged with traveling to meet a minor when he went to meet the adult instead. In another case, police responded with a fake profile to a man’s ad for 18+ women and then later revealed to him that they were fourteen. He responded that he wasn’t okay with meeting someone underage, but was arrested for not immediately terminating contact. Another 21-year-old man said he did not wish to have sex with the police’s decoy almost 16-year-old girl, but after lots of pressure from cops after cops insisted on sex rather than a relationship and threatened to refuse to meet him, he agreed and was arrested. The men had posted ads on legal dating sites, along with Craigslist, Facebook, and Twitter. In various cases, men were arrested for no legitimate crime; the evidence did not hold up in court.

Continue reading “Sex Stings and Property Seizure”

Minors and Unwanted Medical Treatment

A hypodermic needl

Should anyone be forced to receive medical treatment they do not want? In September, a 17-year-old in Connecticut was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The girl, Cassandra C., told her mother that she did not want to receive chemotherapy treatment because she does not believe in putting “poison into her body,” even if she has cancer. Cassandra believes the chemotherapy will harm her body as much as the cancer; Cassandra’s mother supported her decision. The Department of Children and Families took Cassandra into temporary custody after her mother allowed her to skip several treatment appointments, saying that her mother was neglecting her by allowing her to skip appointments. Now, Cassandra is confined to a hospital room to receive chemotherapy. With the treatment, she has an 85% chance of survival. Without it, she has two years to live.

Continue reading “Minors and Unwanted Medical Treatment”

Conflict Antiquities: Is there a Future for the Past?

Cover image for Late for School with an illustration of a young white boy running towards the viewer while gripping his backpack strap. Behind him is a giant gorilla's face and hand and a T-Rex skeleton.

This Guest Scholar post was written by Rebecca Schindler, professor of Classical Studies at DePauw University. 

Seven thousand years of history in the Middle East is on the brink of being wiped out. The on-going civil war in Syria and the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have placed the region’s cultural heritage at great risk. Sites and monuments across northern Iraq and Syria are being intentionally destroyed by ISIS and/or looted for their “portable antiquities,” objects that can easily be transported and sold through the black market. In December 2014, UNITAR reported that, based on satellite imagery, 24 sites in Syria have been destroyed, 104 have been severely damaged, and another 162 moderately or possibly damaged. The authors quote Francesco Bandarin, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture: “the consequence [of Syria’s crisis] has been a massive development of a phenomenon, illegal excavation, which we think is extremely dangerous for the cultural heritage; I would say lethal.” (UNITAR Report, Dec. 2014) The material culture of some of the world’s great civilizations is disappearing before our eyes.

The looting of archaeological sites in Iraq has been a well-known problem since the US-led invasion in 2003. However, the initial situation in Iraq was quite different than what is happening now. In the years after 2003, archaeological looting was primarily carried out by Iraqis whose other sources of income had been compromised by the war. Archaeologists refer to this as “subsistence looting.” Although such activity is illegal and destroys archaeological data, it is difficult to condemn looters who are desperate to feed their families. They are using their cultural patrimony for a greater ethical good.

At the dawn of 2015 the situation is different. Both The Free Syrian Army and the Syrian government have been involved in looting their own archaeological heritage to support military endeavors. (Reuters, Oct. 17, 2014) In the last 12 months, the rise of ISIS has aggravated the situation even further. ISIS militants are deliberately destroying Sufi, Shiite, Yazidi, and Christian monuments for ideological reasons. The “Tomb of Jonah” outside of Mosul (Iraq) is one such example. ISIS brags about these efforts in its own publications (see Dabiq).

It also appears that ISIS is at least condoning, if not directly profiting from the looting of archaeological sites in Syria. The Mesopotamian city of Mari, founded in the 3rd millennium BCE as a trade center on the Euphrates River, is a case in point. The Syrian region where Mari is located, Albu Kamal, came under ISIL control in June 2014. In satellite imagery dating between August 2011 and March 2014, 165 looting pits are visible; between 25 March and 11 November 2014, 1,286 new looting pits appeared, an average of 5.5 a day. The damage visible in the satellite imagery is visible even to the untrained eye. (“AAAS Analysis Shows Widespread Looting and Damage to Historical Sites in Syria.”) What is less clear is ISIS’s involvement in the looting and sale of archaeological artifacts. In October 2014, Foreign Policy reported that ISIS’s second greatest source of revenue, after illegal oil says, may be from the sale looted antiquities. (Foreign Policy, October 17, 2014) This meme has been widely repeated in the media but FP’s sources may have exaggerated the figures and there is no direct evidence connecting ISIS to the sale of illegal antiquities. (Chasing Aphrodite blogpost, Nov. 18, 2014) On the other hand, there is no evidence that they are not involved in the sale of conflict antiquities and the controversy is a reminder that the unregulated market in conflict antiquities is likely, either directly or indirectly, to contribute to terrorist activities.

We need to keep the problem in perspective: 76,000 people died in Syria in 2014, the deadliest year of the conflict to date, and over 10 million people have been displaced. (BBC, Jan. 1, 2015) Most realistic commentators acknowledge that the cultural heritage crisis in Iraq and Syria cannot be addressed until the conflict itself is brought to an end. In the meantime, we do not have to feel completely helpless. Information is power. Archaeologists and cultural heritage officials are working hard to document Syria’s (and Iraq’s) cultural heritage before it is destroyed and in the hopes that Syria will someday be rebuilt. We can support those efforts (see ASOR’s Syrian Heritage Initiative, for example) and we can continue to educate ourselves about the history of peoples whose lives and labors, in better days, contributed to advancements in art, science, and literature that have enhanced the world for everyone.

Ethics of the Virtual Snow Day

A winter road bordered by snow-covered trees

Across the country, schools are experiencing high numbers of school cancellations due to weather and illness outbreaks. While usually these events bring a couple of days off for students, many schools have shifted to virtual teaching instead. Students log on to discussion boards, social media, or school websites and are able to complete assignments, discuss topics with other students, and ask teachers questions. Instead of running longer school days or chipping away at weekends or breaks, students can attend school from their homes. In theory, it is no different than taking online classes, or even going to college, since assignments are completed on your own time rather than in class. Many colleges also have online discussion portions to classes. However, it is unclear if these days will end up counting towards the school’s final total of state-required days.

Continue reading “Ethics of the Virtual Snow Day”

Buried Without A Brain: Should Shipley’s Family Have Been Informed?

In the news since 2010, the ethical dilemma of Jesse Shipley’s brain has reached headlines once again.  The Shipley family discovered their son’s missing organ after a high school field trip to the morgue resulted in students informing the family that Jesse’s brain was in a jar, labeled with his name.  Nearly a decade after Shipley’s body was buried without his brain, the court is still weighing in on this ethical dilemma: Should medical examiners have the right to remove (and keep) the organs of the dead?

Continue reading “Buried Without A Brain: Should Shipley’s Family Have Been Informed?”

The Rolling Stone UVA Rape Story Debacle

Cover image for Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon featuring an illustration of a green dragon seated on an orange blanket. It's sitting in front of a purple wall and is between two trees.

This post by Dr. Jeff McCall was originally published by The Indy Star on December 26, 2014. 

Journalism enters dangerous territory when reporters look to tell “stories” that are more dramatic, more sensational and more confrontational than what is provided by real life. Rolling Stone magazine found this out with its recent, misguided story about sexual assault at the University of Virginia.

Continue reading “The Rolling Stone UVA Rape Story Debacle”

All Clubs Are Created Equal

Children hanging rainbow flags out of a bus window

For more than a year, students at North Putnam High School – not far from the Prindle Institute – have been attempting to form a Gay-Straight Alliance club. On November 20, the school board voted to not approve the club. The vote was 3-3, with one abstention. On December 23, the American Civil Liberties Union sued North Putnam Community School Corporation to get the club instated. Continue reading “All Clubs Are Created Equal”

Freedom of Speech: The Ferguson Grand Jury

Police at the Ferguson protests

The role of a Grand Jury is to secretly examine all evidence of a case and decide if there is reason to indict at individual. In the case of the August 9 Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, a Grand Jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer that fatally shot Brown. Grand Jury members are not allowed to reveal their identities or discuss the cases; now, an unnamed member of the Grand Jury is suing the prosecutor. The member claims that restricting speech about the jury proceedings is unconstitutional under the First Amendment and that the evidence and laws were not presented in a clear and precise manner. The juror also says that Prosecutor McCulloh was incorrect in implying that the decision was unanimous and that every juror though all charges did not have substantial evidence. This is not the first time that these claims have been made; the juror goes further to say that the evidence presented was clearly skewed in favor of the police officer instead of with an equal, unbiased presentation. The juror wants to be able to discuss these issues in public and bring more attention and information into the public eye. The lawsuit claims that the case of Ferguson was unique, and the gag order should be lifted for this case alone.  Since the constitution does state that the secrecy measures are on a case-by-case basis, it is possible to lift the gag order on just this case.

Should a member of the Grand Jury be allowed to speak out about the proceedings of the case? Is restricting their speech about cases an ethical thing to do, whether or not it is unconstitutional? Is it right to lift the gag order on only “unique” cases, or should it be abolished overall?