SOU is “Exploring Happiness” This Year for a Campus Theme

(Ashland, Ore.) – Southern Oregon University launches a new annual campus theme discussion this evening with a panel on “Happiness and the Arts.” Members of the Departments of Music, Theatre and Art will examine how the arts have defined and described happiness. The presentation is at 7:00 p.m. in the Meese Room of the Hannon Library. It is free and open to the public.

This year SOU’s campus theme is “Exploring Happiness.” It’s the fourth year for the university’s campus theme – an annual conversation across the campus and the community that focuses on a specific topic and features multiple events. Previous campus themes have been “Tocqueville Imagining America,” “On Being Human,” and “Civility.”

The Co-Directors of the SOU campus theme program are Dr. Dan Morris and Dr. Prakash Chenjeri. Chenjeri, associate professor of Philosophy, says “Exploring Happiness” will give the campus the opportunity to explore the topic from various perspectives, “For centuries, philosophers, religious people, artists, and writers have pondered the question of happiness. More recently, research in the biological sciences, in particular evolutionary biology, genetics and neuroscience, and cognitive psychology are shedding new light on the subject with huge implications for our understanding of what happiness is, what makes humans happy, and why. Social scientists are examining the issue from a socio-economic-political perspective. Throughout the year, we will explore this fundamental human experience from a variety of disciplines.”

Dr. Christopher Bobonich of Stanford University is this fall’s featured presenter. His talk, “Happiness and the Greeks,” will be November 1 at 7:00 p.m. in the SOU Art Building Meese Auditorium. The following day, November 2, Dr. Bobonich will present “Happiness and the Meaning of Life” at 4:00 p.m. in room 118 of the Science Building.

“Exploring Happiness” presentations are scheduled throughout the school year. Here are the fall term presentations.

Happiness and the Arts

Members of the Departments of Music, Theatre and Art will examine how the arts have defined and described “happiness.” The ensuing discussion will focus on comparisons of these artistic depictions and examine the various interpretations they suggest.

Presenters: Eric Levin (Theatre Arts), Melissa Geppert (Art and Art History), Cynthia Hutton (Music); Moderator, Fredna Grimland (Music) Wednesday, October 10, 2012 • 7 pm • Meese Room of the Library

Happiness, Whose Vision, Which Version?

Historically believers and theologians of various religious traditions have argued that ultimate human joy and happiness in life consists in understanding and appreciating human life as divinely created and inspired. But is this necessary true? This panel will explore the question whether human happiness necessarily requires a divine grounding from three perspectives: Christian, Hindu, and non-religious perspectives. McAllister will argue that Christianity seeks to unfold a relational, moral and aesthetic vision that supports an embodied practice with a desire for healthy community, justice, and joy at its core. Chenjeri will present a Hindu view according to which true ananda (bliss) can only be realized when there is a secession of illusory individuality. And, Gholson will conclude through representative, secular examples, that a belief in a supernatural power is not the only possible route toward happiness.

Presenters: Stuart McAllister (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) Prakash Chenjeri (Southern Oregon University), and Bill Gholson (Southern Oregon University)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012 • 6 pm • Meese Room of Library

Happiness and the Greeks

Ancient Greek philosophers thought all people insofar as they are rational should take happiness as their ultimate end. They also thought that most of us are radically mistaken about whether we are in fact happy. Why did they think these things and can these ideas be defended? Does the ancient Greek conception of happiness have anything to tell us about how to live our lives?

Presenter: Dr. Christopher Bobonich, Stanford University

Thursday, November 1, 2012 • 7 pm • Meese Auditorium, SOU Art Building

Happiness and the Meaning of Life

Greek philosophers advocated taking happiness as one’s ultimate goal. A characteristically modern thought is that people should value leading meaningful lives. What’s the relation between the goals of happiness and meaningfulness? Do they go together or can they compete? What is it to lead a meaning full life and does it require more than that you think your life is meaningful?

Presenter: Dr. Christopher Bobonich, Stanford University

Friday, November 2, 2012 • 4 pm • Science 118, Science Building

The Virtue of Discontent

Though many would question the worth of seemingly negative attitudes such as “discontent,” I argue that our ability to identify and utilize discontent as a moral emotion and attitude is central to our ability—both at the individual and community level—to promote the good, and achieve the conditions for a flourishing, happy, life. In this presentation, I engage with the intellectual and political history of “discontent” in the Western tradition, I consider its meaning as a concept, as well as its value and its place along a path towards happiness. Finally, drawing on contemporary work in virtue ethics and moral psychology, I conclude that “discontent” is not only a valuable attitude in identifying crucial opportunities for progress and improvement, but that it is further an essential element of a healthy and positive social world.

Presenter: Devora Shapiro, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Southern Oregon University

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 • 7 pm • Meese Conference Room, Hannon Library

 Three Sisters: Talk Back/Discussion of the Play with Theatre Faculty

Theatre Arts faculty and student performers will conduct a post-play discussion of the SOU production of the Anton Chekov play Three Sisters in relation to the campus theme of Happiness. The play begins at 8pm, and the discussion will follow immediately thereafter.

Presenters: Eric Levin, Performing Arts, Jackie Apodoca, Performing Arts

Thursday, November 15, 2012 • Play begins at 8 pm

Discussion begins immediately after the play • Center Stage of the Theatre Arts Building

For more information, visit sou.edu/ahc/exploringhappiness

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