Recordings of Sunday Platform addresses
Since July 2012, Dr. Karen I. Hall has served as the superintendent of the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, where she oversees more than 1,500 students, 275 employees, and a $25 million budget. She joined the MRH district as assistant superintendent in 2008, coordinating a wide array of programs: human resources, professional development, curriculum and instruction, federal grants, home visits, gifted instruction, and social justice training, among many others. Dr. Hall has held principal positions in the Pattonville and Ritenour school districts and was a third-grade teacher in Kirkwood. Under her leadership, MRHSD was named a “District of Distinction” from District Administration Magazine and has consistently earned national attention for its system-wide sustainability practices.
One of the most important roles we each play for others is that of mentor. People learn from example, and we can choose to set a good example by identifying our best qualities and relentlessly living up to them. At a time when there are so many poor examples in public life, it’s important to remind ourselves that by living up to our own highest standards—by being our best selves—we can help others to do the same.
Dr. Will Ross grew up in a gritty, hard-scrabble ghetto in Memphis, Tennessee. His life was changed at age 15 when a prominent Jewish couple was able to send him to a summer program at a boarding school in New Hampshire, as well as provide financial support until he graduated from college. Mr. Wexner, a local businessman, and his wife, Shirley, were both active in the Civil Rights movement in Memphis and instilled in Will a strong sense of social justice and an embrace of Dr. Martin Luther King’s philosophy of inclusion and non-violent protest against racial injustice. Dr. Ross continues that legacy as he advocates for health equity throughout St. Louis.
Will Ross, MD, MPH, is associate dean for diversity, principal officer for community partnerships, and professor of medicine in the Division of Nephrology at Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Ross has recruited and developed a diverse group of medical students, residents, and faculty. He helped establish free local medical clinics and has worked nationally and globally to promote health equity. He is a charter and founding member of the St. Louis Regional Health Commission and Chairman of the St. Louis City Board of Health. He is a founding member of the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience, a magnet high school for students pursuing careers in medicine and biomedical sciences. He previously served as Chief Medical Officer of St. Louis Regional Hospital, the last public hospital in St. Louis. Ross earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and an MD from the Washington University School of Medicine.
He completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Vanderbilt and a Renal Fellowship at Washington University. He also completed a master’s degree in epidemiology at Saint Louis University.
Humanism is often presented as a tradition grounded in Classical teachings, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment – essentially a project of the West. Is this picture accurate, or are there more diverse expressions of Humanism than this? This Platform will explore the many diversities within the philosophy and tradition of Humanism, giving life to the rich and complex worldview the Ethical Society promotes.
Ethical Humanism promotes the idea that truth and ethics are discovered and created by human beings working together, learning to communicate across all lines of difference and to listen deeply and learn from each other. But how do we learn and teach appreciation for diversity? How do we react to differences between people and bring out the best in each other, when difference can also be a source of conflict?
In keeping with June’s “Celebrate Diversity” theme, Jia Lian Yang and Ethical Society member Treasure Shields Redmond will be discussing the genesis of their award winning podcast, Who Raised You? The Who Raised You? podcast is a kitchen table conversation with St. Louis’s artists, educators, and change makers that explores how culture, family, and intersecting identities pave our way toward liberation.\
Most of us struggle with self-worth sometime. Perhaps we don’t like how we look, or we think we haven’t accomplished much, or we worry about how others see us. Developing a secure and abiding sense of self-worth is perhaps one of the most important things we can do for our mental health and well being—so why is it so difficult?
The subject of this Platform was suggested by the winner of the Platform Topic silent auction item at this year’s Youth Group Dinner Dance. The generations to come after us are on many of our minds lately, as we grapple with the climate crisis and witness other fundamental changes in culture and politics. Ethics is about relationships; what kind of ethical responsibilities can we have with those who do not even exist yet? How can and should we take them into account when making ethical decisions?
Brexit. For years that word has dominated international headlines as people throughout the world follow the seemingly endless saga of Britain’s quest to leave the European Union.
“Brexit is one of the most significant international affairs in many decades: it impacts the world economy and the politics and culture of every country in one of the most powerful regions of the earth,” said Ethical Society Outreach Director James Croft. “The dream of the European Union was that closer economic and cultural integration of nations would prevent further atrocities like the Second World War: with Brexit, that dream is starting to unravel.”
But what is Brexit, exactly? Why did it happen, and what does it mean for the United Kingdom and for the world? How could Brexit affect the USA, and what similar political and cultural currents are flowing in this country?
“When Britain leaves the European Union, the USA could be affected in numerous ways,” Croft said. “Right now, some US vacationers might be delighted that the fall in the value of the pound is making their trips to the UK cheaper. But the long-term picture is much more troubling: the exit of the UK from the EU could cause the economic growth of the EU to slow, which would hurt US exports and therefore the economy. Britain’s exit may embolden nationalist elements in other nations to push for their countries to leave too, which would compound this problem.”
“Brexit can be seen as part of a troubling trend toward nationalism and isolationism which is spreading across the globe,” Ethical Society Outreach Director James Croft said. “Numerous nations – including the US – are grappling with their self-image and trying to determine what sort of country they want to be. The competition between open and welcoming internationalist perspectives and closed and paranoid nationalist ones will, I think, be a defining feature of political and cultural discourse for decades.”
Many religions have a concept of environmental stewardship that says humans have been given responsibility for the environment and other animals by a creator. Ethical Humanism embraces the theory of unguided evolution. Yet many Ethical Humanists are strong environmentalists. What is the basis for the Ethical Humanist environmental ethic? How do we decide ecological ethical questions? Some people argue that humans have been so harmful to the environment that the earth would be better off without humans; is this really true?
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