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January 2016

January 18: EMU Solidarity March and Speaker Presentation:

Solidarity March and Speaker Presentation

Eastern Mennonite University

EMU will be hosting Reverend Derrick Parson, Pastor of Providence United Methodist Church (N. Chesterfield, Virginia) at the Lehman Auditorium followed by the After Chapel Talk Back about Black Lives Matter on January 18 from 10:00AM-12:30PM. More Information


January 18: MLK Celebration speaker Diane Nash: JMU MLK Formal Program. The formal program will include keynote speaker Diane Nash. Diane Nash is an African American activist, lecturer and businesswoman. After attending both public and Catholic schools, Nash had never experienced segregation in public accommodations before moving to the South. She went on to become one of the pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement. More Information MORE >

January 20: Practice English and other languages:

Location: Festival- Allegheny Room

Conversation Partner Program Info Session flyer

The Conversation Partner program is an exciting opportunity for mutual cultural exchange while practicing conversation skills in English and other languages. Find out what it is all about during this information session.

Make sure to refer yourself for some preliminary information about the program and the application form found online.


January 23: Met Opera star Danielle Talamantes at JMU:

International recitalist and Met Opera star Danielle Talamantes will join forces with JMU Faculty pianist Gabriel Dobner to perform work by Granados, Turina, Gershwin, Ellington and More!

Tickets at:

Danielle Talamantes

Soprano Danielle Talamantes is an international recitalist who made her Carnegie Hall debut in a sold-out solo recital in 2007. Since then, she has sung as soprano soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Choralis, Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin, Nashville Symphony, National Philharmonic Chorale & Orchestra, Oratorio Society of Virginia, Seoul Philharmonic, Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, Trujillo Symphony Orchestra of Peru, and The United States Army Chorus. At the Marlboro Music Festival in Marlboro, Vermont, she was the featured guest soloist in Summer 2014 and Soprano-in- Residence in Summer 2012.

This rising star made an exciting stage debut this 2014-2015 season as Frasquita in Bizet’s Carmen in a return to The Metropolitan Opera. She also debuted the role of Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, and returned to the North Carolina Master Chorale for Dvořák’s Stabat Mater and the National Philharmonic for both Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Mozart’s Requiem and Exsultate, Jubilate. Her debut album, Canciones españolas, was recently released on the MSR Classics label and is already being hailed as a “triumph” and “an exquisite interpretation of Spanish gems.”


January 28: From Biology as Destiny to Biology as Opportunity:

Visiting Speaker: Nikolas Rose

Friday, 1/29 11am in Madison Union Ballroom


Nikolas Rose is Professor of Sociology and Head of the Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine at King’s College London. His work explores how scientific developments have changed conceptions of human identity and governance and what this means for our political, socio-economic and legal futures. Rose is a Co-director of the Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation (CSynBI), a major research collaboration between King’s and Imperial College London. Trained as a biologist, a psychologist and a sociologist, Rose co-founded two influential radical journals in the 1970s and 1980s, playing a key role in introducing French post-structuralist critical thought to an English speaking audience and helping develop new approaches to political analysis and strategy. He has published widely across numerous fields and disciplines, with work translated into 13 languages. He is a former Managing Editor of Economy and Society and Joint Editor-in-Chief of the interdisciplinary journal, BioSocieties

"The Human Sciences in a Biological Age: From Biology as Destiny to Biology as Opportunity?"

Thursday, 1/28 11am in Madison Union Ballroom

We live, according to some, in a century of biology, where the insights of genomics and neuroscience have opened up the workings of our bodies and our minds to new kinds of knowledge and new technologies of intervention.  Over the last fifty years, the relation of the social sciences to biological explanations of human conduct has – understandably – largely been one of critique: biology seemed to offer only reductionism, fatalism determinism, and a biological legitimation of inequality.  In this lecture I shall argue that a new biology is hesitantly taking shape, beyond reductionism.  A number of life scientists, especially those involved with biomedicine, are recognizing the limits of the powerful reductionist research programme that has driven advances over the last half century, and are tentatively exploring new styles of thought and investigation that address complexity and emergence. This emerging style of thought relocates the organism in its social and cultural milieu and recognises that living creatures are shaped by that milieu from the moment of conception if not before. In this talk I outline the changes in the life sciences, consider their limitations and argue for the need for a new relation that I term ‘critical friendship.’  Using examples from my current research on mental health, migration and the megacity, I argue that such a new relation can enable novel understandings of, and interventions into, some of the classical problems addressed by the social sciences, such as the effects of poverty, exclusion, racism and violence.  I conclude that a new engagement with biology is required if the social and human sciences are to revitalize themselves for the twenty-first century.

"Governing (Through) The Brain: How Neuroscience Moved from the Lab to the World"

Thursday, 1/28 3:30pm in Madison Union Ballroom

In this lecture I explore the ways in which, over the last fifty years, neuroscience has transformed itself from largely a laboratory based enterprise into an expertise making claims about how human conduct should be understood and governed in many different domains.  This shift has accelerated since the 1990s, at least in the US and Western Europe, and we have seen the proliferation of  brain based explanations of human behavior which are  supplementing and often displacing psychological explanations of human volition, action and emotion.  We can see this in relation to  advice to parents and teachers, in accounts of criminal behavior, in new understandings of human sociality, in marketing and consumption practices, in military research,  and in our understanding of personhood itself.  In this paper, I survey the birth of this this developing configuration, explore the role of neuroscience in the government of human conduct, and examine the implications, and the limitations, of the growing belief that what makes us humans human is our brains. Exploring three specific areas – psychopharmacology, brain visualisation and the idea of neuroplasticity -  I consider how has governing the conduct of human beings come to require, presuppose and utilize a knowledge of the human brain and with what consequences.  I ask what role are these new ‘cerebral knowledges’ and technologies are coming to play in our ideas about ourselves, our politics and our ethics? Is the ‘psychological complex’ of the twentieth century giving way to a ‘neurobiological complex’ in the twenty-first, and, if so, how should the social and human sciences respond?

"Beyond the Mind-Brain Problem? Problems and Perils of Intervening in the Human Brain"

Friday, 1/29 11am in Madison Union Ballroom

Philosophers have been debating the mind-brain or mind-body problem for centuries. While few neuroscientists claim to know how to bridge the ‘explanatory gap’ between mental events and brain processes, the operative philosophy of the neurosciences is now that “The half-century’s accumulation of knowledge of brain function has brought us face to face with the question of what it means to be human.... what makes man human is his brain…. Things mental, indeed minds, are emergent properties of brains.” (Mountcastle, 1998).  Undeterred by philosophical doubts, neurobiologists have proposed new brain based explanations for normal and abnormal mental states and processes, and have invented new technologies - from brain computer interfaces to  humanized robots - for simulating, reading and manipulating the human brain.   Neuroscientists are working with computer scientists, engineers and others to use this knowledge to create and control technological artefacts.  In this talk I will consider some of these developments and explore their implications.  While there is much to criticize in the exaggerated claims often made for contemporary neurotechnologies, I will ask whether, beyond critique, these developments offer a radical challenge to the comfortable dualism of much social thought, and what this might imply for the problems and perils of managing minds by interventions into brains.


January 29: Philosophy Colloquium: Brent Adkins:

Brent Adkins

Dr. Brent Adkins (Roanoke College) will be giving a philosophy colloquium talk on "Ethics without Responsibility: Spinoza's Practical Philosophy" from 3:30-5:00 in Cleveland Hall 114 on Friday, January 29th.  Faculty and interested majors/minors are welcome! 

Here is an abstract of his talk:

Is ethics compatible with science? Does the scientific search for causal explanations destroy the concept of moral responsibility? Indeed, how can one be held morally responsible for actions that follow necessarily from prior causes? At the same time without some concept of moral responsibility what would become of our personal, social, and legal interactions? What would an ethics without responsibility look like? While questions about the nature of ethics have always been salient, they take on a particular poignancy during the rise of modern scientific worldview in the 17th Century. Among the great Modern Philosophers, Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) offers a unique solution to the conundrums generated by a rigorously ordered universe, a solution that still resonates today. He argues that while ethics is compatible with science, science is not compatible with moral responsibility. In the end, Spinoza must show us that living ethically does not depend on moral responsibility.