Academic Celebration focuses on changing boundaries of ethical behavior

Gay marriage, the war in Iraq, downloading music from the Internet and the evolution of Vietnam are among the many hot picks of this year’s Academic Celebration, which takes as its provocative theme: “Right, Wrong and Grey: Ethical Boundaries for the 21st Century.” The annual event begins Sunday, March 28, and continues through Wednesday, March 31.

The goal of the four-day celebration, which is hosted each spring by the Mercyhurst College Honors Program and organized by students, is to create dialogue among students, faculty and members of the community. 

Nearly 30 presentations in the form of lectures, panel discussions, movies, displays and performances will be offered this year, all of which are free and open to the public. 

“In choosing this theme, we envisioned an interdisciplinary examination of the changing boundaries of ethical behavior in today’s world,” explained Dr. Karen Williams, faculty adviser for Academic Celebration. Assisting Williams in orchestrating this year’s observance is honors program director Dr. Candee Chambers and student chairpersons Kristen Hudak and Ashley Gardner. 

“Over the years, Academic Celebration has featured a variety of stimulating topics, but none has captured the attention of so many departments across campus as this year’s,” Williams said. “We have representation from more disciplines than ever this year, making our exploration of ethics a truly diverse one. It’s a particularly timely theme, and we are proud of the high quality of presenters on the program. The student chairs have worked hard to organize one of the most intriguing collections of events in recent years, so we hope to see good attendance from the Mercyhurst community as well as the larger Erie community.”

The inaugural event for the 2004 celebration will be a lecture by Sister Anne Curtis,RSM, a member of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas regional community of Rochester, N.Y., and a lobbyist for NETWORK National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. She will reflect on her experiences living in Chile and working among the poor, juxtaposed with her practice as a lobbyist promoting economic and social justice on Capitol Hill when she speaks Sunday at 7 p.m. in Mercy Heritage Room of Sullivan Hall. 

Other featured events include a presentation by Madame Nathalia Krassovska on "My Life and the Romantic Period: An Oral History" Sunday at 4 p.m. in Walker Recital Hall; a lecture by Dr. Maria S. Zaragoza, a leading researcher in cognitive psychology, on the “Forced Confabulation and False Memory in Child Witnesses” Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Walker Recital Hall; “Fool for Christ,” a one-woman play starring stage and screen actress Sarah Melici, on Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Taylor Little Theatre; and “The Ethics of Global Warming” a lecture by Donald Brown, director of the Pennsylvania Consortium for Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy, on Wednesday at 8:15 p.m. in Walker Recital Hall.

Many other presentations on this year’s Academic Celebration calendar will highlight the intellectual creativity and research of Mercyhurst faculty and students, among them a program on ethical dilemmas in archaeology, a lecture on the inconsistencies of the Salem Witchcraft Trials, a panel discussion on the ethics of food production and consumption, a lecture on the changing face of Vietnam, student accounts of alternative spring break experiences through service learning, and a presentation on Catholic sexual ethics in the 21st century.

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