Posts

Philosopher Graham Harman to lecture in Campus Theme series

SOU’s 2021 Campus Theme takes on “Thinking Uncertainty” and “Justified Untrue Belief”

SOU’s Campus Theme lecture series – which has focused each academic year since 2009-10 on a specific concept – is taking on the idea of “Thinking Uncertainty” this year and continue on Wednesday, Feb. 10, with an online lecture on “Justified Untrue Belief” by prominent philosopher Graham Harman of the Southern California Institute of Architecture.

Knowledge has been defined since the days of Plato as justified true belief – that the conditions of truth, belief and justification equate to knowledge. Harman’s lecture will put a contemporary twist on that description by examining justified untrue beliefs.

Harman maintains that knowledge cannot be “justified true belief” because – according to his philosophical concept of “object-oriented ontology” – a thing cannot be simultaneously justified and true. His concept of object-oriented ontology, or the nature of being, holds that no two entities – including human thought – can make contact without mediation from a third. He suggests there can be “justified untrue belief,” including science; and there can be “unjustified true belief,” including both philosophy and art.

Harman’s lecture will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday on a Zoom webinar at https://sou.zoom.us/j/81549473609.

Other events on the schedule for this year’s Campus Theme series include:

  • “Uncertainty and the Buddhist Perspective” on Thursday, Feb. 25, with Dan Le, a full-time volunteer with the Compassionate Service Society in Anaheim, California; Le is a practitioner in both the Zen and Huayan traditions of Buddhism. “
  • A Pathway to Peace: Making Friends with Uncertainty,” on Thursday, March 4, with Fred Grewe, an ordained minister who has companioned with almost 3,000 dying patients over the past 13 years at Providence Hospice in Medford.

Each year’s Campus Theme series aims to create opportunities for students, faculty, staff and community members to engage in intellectually stimulating conversations. The Campus Themes address big questions, enable deep understanding and broaden the intellectual horizons of participants.

This year’s theme of “Thinking Uncertainty” picks up where last year’s theme of “Uncertainty” left off. Campus Themes in previous years have ranged from “Civility” to “Race” to “Truth.”

Harman, Wednesday’s speaker, holds the titles of distinguished professor of philosophy and Liberal Arts Program coordinator at the Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles. He is the author of 18 books, most recently “Art and Objects” (Polity, September 2019).

He received his bachelor’s degree from St. John’s College, his master’s degree from Penn State University and his doctorate from DePaul University. He has taught at American University in Cairo and the European Graduate School, and has been a visiting faculty member at the University of Amsterdam, University of Turin and Yale University.

SOU President Linda Schott to discuss uncertainty in higher ed

SOU president to discuss higher ed “uncertainty” in campus lecture

Southern Oregon University President Linda Schott will lead a discussion of uncertainty in higher education as the university’s Campus Theme lecture series continues this week.

President Schott’s talk – “Uncertainty: The Only Certainty for Higher Education” – will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 5, in the SOU Art Building’s Meese Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Her presentation is the fourth in this year’s Campus Theme lecture series, which is examining uncertainty in a variety of fields.

President Schott’s discussion will outline some of the uncertainties facing higher education in an age where change is constant.

With technology advancing at an exponential rate, she has advocated making SOU “Oregon’s university for the future” by focusing on the human skills that set us apart from technology – such as creativity, communication, cultural understanding and ethical decision-making.

She has encouraged faculty and staff at SOU to be explore and participate in the evolution of learning technologies. She has taken steps to include adult learners and non-traditional students in the academic mix at SOU to offset the nationwide demographic decline of traditional college-age students.

President Schott has also encouraged belt-tightening measures, pursuit of innovative revenue-producing programs and a re-examination of Oregon’s higher education funding model in response to the continued uncertainty of state support for public universities.

President Schott received her bachelor’s degree in history and German from Baylor University, and her master’s degree in history and doctorate in history and humanities, both from Stanford University. She taught at three Texas universities and held administrative positions in Michigan and Colorado before taking her first presidential post in 2012 at University of Maine at Presque Isle.

She is midway through her fourth year as president of SOU, focused on preparing students for the opportunities and uncertainties that lie ahead, and providing them with tools to lead successful lives of purpose.

The common premise for this year’s Campus Theme lectures is “uncertainty.” The first lecture in the series was by Stanley Crawford, who talked about his legal fight against a large garlic importing company. The second lecture was by Cailin O’Connor, who discussed the spread of misinformation and the inherent uncertainty of our beliefs. The third lecture, by SOU French professor Marianne Golding, followed the uncertain journey of three young Jewish refugees from Germany and Czechoslovakia and the women who helped them escape from German-occupied France.