WSU faculty selected to speak across state as Foley Fellows

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Humanities Washington holds events and programs led by cultural experts, scholars, and storytellers, who discuss everything from Washington State history to philosophy to current social issues.

Five Washington State University faculty have been selected to the 2024-2025 Foley Speaker Fellows for the Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau program.

The five are among the more than 30 speakers who will be available for speaking engagements across the state, providing free public presentations on science, politics, music, philosophy, spiritual traditions and more, in dozens of communities beginning in January. The five are considered WSU’s “Foley Fellows,” as their selection is part of the collaboration between the university’s Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service and Humanities Washington, a nonprofit that aims to foster thoughtful conversation and critical thinking. This is the third cohort of Foley Speakers to be added to the Speakers Bureau.

“What’s great about this program is it allows WSU faculty to present their research across the state to general audiences,” said Cornell W. Clayton, director of the Foley Institute who established the partnership with Humanities Washington. “We reach out to faculty to participate, and we select speakers whose research addresses various aspects of democratic politics or public policy from the perspective of the humanities.”

The new Foley Fellows and their topics are:

Trevor Bond

Coming Home: How the Nez Perce Tribe Regained Their Cultural Heritage

Bond, director of the David G. Pollart Center for the Arts and Humanities and associate dean for digital initiatives and special collections at the WSU Libraries, presents the remarkable story of how the Nez Perce Tribe and their allies purchased the largest and oldest collection of Nez Perce material culture — including dresses, shirts, and other regalia — from a museum more than 2,000 miles away from their homeland. Bond authored “Coming Home to Nez Perce Country: The Niimiipuu Campaign to Repatriate Their Exploited Heritage,” a finalist for the 2022 Washington State Book Award for non-fiction.

Michael Goldsby

How Beer Might Save Democracy

Goldsby, associate professor of philosophy in the School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs, presents a simple solution to how polarized politics have turned fellow Americans against one another: Get off social media and back into social settings where face-to-face meetings over a tasty beverage can encourage finding a common ground and allow people to connect to one another in a more authentic, focused, and empathetic manner.

William Kabasenche

Morality and Medicine: How Philosophy Can Help with Healthcare Decisions

Kabasenche, professor of philosophy in the School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs and the Ethics Thread director for the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, explores the intersection of philosophy and healthcare. With real-life examples including issues of informed consent, medical confidentiality, and conflicts-of-interest, his presentation ponders what ethical medicine means for those of us who are patients, and how it informs what we can and should expect from our providers. The talk will also look at some examples of more contested issues in healthcare where there is disagreement about what good care looks like.

Carolyn Long

Have You No Sense of Decency? Shame in American Politics

Long, associate professor in the School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs, presents thoughtful questions about the use of shame as a weapon and its long history in the United States — from the use of pillories and stocks in colonial America to the rise of “cancel culture.”

When shame is used to demonize others, does it contribute to political polarization? Are shame and shamelessness equally destructive to our politics and society? Can shame be used effectively in politics without demonizing the person being shamed? And if this is the case, how can we fix this and improve our political discourse?

Jennifer Sherman

Bad People and Good Ol’ Boys: The Criminalization of Rural Disadvantage

Sherman is professor of sociology whose qualitative research and publications focus on poverty and inequality, mainly in the rural Northwest. If you live in a rural area and commit a crime, your social standing plays a huge role in your ability to recover. Drawing on research from Central and Eastern Washington, this talk explores how the social dynamics in rural communities play an outsized role in how a person is treated after an entanglement with the law.

She presents the questions: Why do we define criminality in the ways we do? And are there more effective ways to keep our communities safe and support vulnerable people?

Institutions hosting Speakers Bureau presentations include libraries, colleges, museums, and cultural centers. Some presentations are available online as well. Speakers are available for scheduling through Humanities Washington. See its events calendar for more.

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