Recordings of Sunday Platform addresses
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Creatively Caring For Ourselves and Others; Amy Miller, MSW

February 19, 2023

Given that our tagline is “Being Human, Together” it seems reasonable that our shared humanity is a worthwhile topic, generally speaking. While not specifically grounded in “the arts,” perhaps there are more creative ways to consider how we care about each other and ourselves than what we’re used to. Let’s explore the ways in which how we care for each other can help us build an ethical future that will allow all of us to thrive.


Ensuring the Future of the Arts in the Choices We Make Today; Joe Gfaller, Managing Director at St. Louis’s Metro Theater Company

February 12, 2023
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As we navigate the current COVID recovery period, the future of the arts in our community and across the globe is being shaped by two dynamic drivers: 1) dramatic shifts in habit and engagement around arts consumption and 2) the latent potential for young people today to integrate the arts into their thinking and learning to ensure a vibrant future for the arts in decades to come. The first requires creativity and agility from art-makers to ensure that new, relevant channels can continue to make art accessible and to attract art-goers to traditional channels of consumption. The second requires a commitment to invest in young people with a level of grace and respect for their collective intelligence and emotional wisdom. Combined, our communities’ success in addressing these two pressing needs will determine much of our future – not just our future in the arts, but also a future for the many gifts the arts empower: empathy, critical thinking, understanding difference, and cultivating creativity and hope.

Joe Gfaller is the Managing Director at St. Louis’s Metro Theater Company – the region’s third-oldest professional theater and the only professional theater in the region exclusively devoted to producing for youth and families. Across his career, he has held roles at the Tony Award winning Alliance Theater and American Repertory Theater, Opera Theater of Saint Louis, and 7 Stages. He has worked a consultant across a range of disciplines, including work with the documentary “Flint: The Poisoning of an American City,” the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Utah Symphony, and the National Blues Museum. He has directed two dozen professional stage productions, including regional premieres by Caryl Churchill, Christopher Durang, David Mamet, Addae Moon, and Michael Frayn. He is adjunct faculty in the Arts Management and Leadership program at Webster University and has previously taught at Clark Atlanta University and Berry College. He is a graduate Leadership St. Louis, LEAD Atlanta, and Harvard University.


For the Love of a Music City; Alonzo Townsend

February 5, 2023

Louise Jett, leader-in-training, speaks with St. Louis native Alonzo Townsend about his early life as the son of the late blues legend Henry Townsend, his childhood growing up in St. Louis, and his vision for the future of the St. Louis music scene. Alonzo is the youngest son of Delta blues legend and patriarch of the St. Louis blues, Henry James “Mule” Townsend and blues singer Vernell Townsend. Alonzo has made it his mission to carry on the blues heritage and become an active voice for St. Louis’ history and vibrant music scene. He is the founder of the Townsendx3 Agency which books the shows for The Dark Room and provides exposure for up-and-coming artists in our area.


Money Talks: A Frank Conversation; Amy Miller, MSW, Interim Ministry Team Director

January 29, 2023

Many people have a hard time talking about money or have money “wounds” that make it a sore subject for them. We are taught to shroud salaries in secrecy and that money “makes the world go round” but it also “can’t buy me love.” We receive endless mixed messages about money and what it means or doesn’t mean about our value as people. This Platform will be a candid conversation about money, in myriad contexts, as well as an introduction to the annual Ethical Society Pledge Drive.


The Ethics of Cryptocurrency: The Good, the Bad, Opportunities, and Vulnerabilities; Professor Keith W. Miller, PhD

January 24, 2023
Photo of gold Bitcoin

Ethics asks questions about better and worse, and about opportunities and vulnerabilities. Ethics explores intentions, duties, and expectations. Ethics praises virtue and warns against evil. When ethics looks at socio-technical systems, the technical details and human values become intertwined. Cryptocurrency (and its underlying technology, blockchain data structures) are central to several such socio-technical systems. Cryptocurrency has attracted much attention lately, both positive and negative. In this half hour, we’ll look at some of the technical details essential to cryptocurrency, and at some of the human values that have become intertwined with cryptocurrency. We will also at least mention some of the ethical theories that are being applied to help shed light on ethically significant decisions about cryptocurrency that have been made, and are likely to face us in the near future.

Keith W. Miller, PhD is UMSL’s Orthwein Professor for Lifelong Learning in the Sciences. He is a member of both the Computer Science Department and the College of Education. His primary research interests include computer ethics, technology and education, and software testing. He partners with the St. Louis Science Center and Girls’ Inc. of St. Louis. Learn more about Keith.


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Bitcoin Photo by Kanchanara on Unsplash

There Is No “E” (for ethics) in Capitalism; Beth Neff, organic farmer and urban planner

January 15, 2023

In our society, we rarely see examples of group benefit prioritized over profit. Few models of exchange place the rewards of ownership in the hands of consumers or provide workers with a chance to participate in self-governing institutions based on democratic models of decision making. Rarest of all are arrangements whereby consumers, producers, and workers act in collaboration with one another to produce advantage for all. The MARSH Cooperative is testing these ideals in the real world, attempting to activate new paradigms for the ethical replacement of capitalism.

Beth Neff is an organic farmer, urban planner, sustainability activist, writer, parent, and cooperative organizer. Her current project is MARSH, a not-for-profit organized as a cooperative laboratory for the practical investigation of relational forms of social, economic, ecological, and cultural composition. MARSH combines urban farming, a sliding-scale grocery store, a sustainable commercial kitchen, and public space in order to cultivate tactics and strategies for resilience and biocultural transformation.


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Re-learning How To “People”; Amy Miller, MSW, Interim Ministry Team Director

January 8, 2023

It has been a rough couple of years since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, and it often feels like we have forgotten how to “people.” Studies suggest that we have become less extroverted, less agreeable, less creative, and less conscientious in the past few years; we are also lonelier and less connected than ever. A new year gives us a fresh start and hope that we can come together in new as well as familiar ways. In 2023, with a new interim director, we can practice reconnecting, growing together, and building new relationships in 2023.


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Rekindling Communally-Bonded Schools to Improve Black Students’ Educational Experiences; Jerome Morris, PhD

December 11, 2022

This talk unveils the historical and theoretical background of powerful African-American school communities, illustrates how social and educational policies weakened these relationships, and provides strategies that rebuild the relationships that contemporary Black students have with their schools and communities.

Dr. Jerome E. Morris is the E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor of Urban Education and the Founder and Director of the Center for Communally Bonded Research at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL). Morris’ interdisciplinary and empirically-based scholarship examines the institutional structure and culture in schools, provides innovative conceptual frameworks to study marginalized communities, and cultivates meaningful partnerships with communities and schools. The nexus of race, social class, and the geography of educational opportunity represents a major theme of his scholarship. Morris has been in the forefront of highlighting the centrality of the U.S. South in African-Americans’ experiences, examining achievement-gap issues, and rebuilding viable urban communities and schools. He was recently awarded the prestigious Lyle M. Spencer Research Award from the Spencer Foundation to investigate the development of his theory of Communally-bonded Schooling. Dr. Morris is the author of Troubling the Waters: Fulfilling the Promise of Quality Public Schooling for Black Children (Teachers College Press), and The Joys and Pains of Central City: Black Community and School-life in a Birmingham Housing Project (forthcoming, University of Georgia Press). An award-winning researcher, Morris has published extensively in leading research journals such as the American Educational Research Journal, Teachers College Record, Educational Researcher, Review of Research in Education, Anthropology and Education Quarterly, Educational Policy, and Urban Education.


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The Future of Ugandan Humanist Education; Educator and Member Krystal White

December 6, 2022

The Ugandan students and schools the Ethical Society supports are full of strength, resilience, and hope, and member Krystal White experienced that positive energy firsthand this summer on her month-long journey visiting the students and teaching at their schools. ​Come learn about the recent developments at the Uganda Humanist Schools and leave inspired by the schools’ promising future.

Note: The Ethical Society community currently supports 33 female high-school students with full boarding scholarships ($500/yr) and provides reusable menstrual supplies for all menstruating students in the primary and secondary schools. If you would like to make a donation to benefit the schools and you cannot attend the platform, please contact Krystal White at krystalsnowhite@gmail.com or Nancy Jelinek at njelinek@ethicalstl.org.


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Entangled Empathy – Exploring our Relationships with Animals; Lori Gruen, PhD

November 27, 2022

How should we think about our relationships with other animals? Entangled Empathy is one way to both motivate and improve those relationships. This presentation by Leading Scholar in Animal Studies and Feminist Philosophy Lori Gruen will describe what entangled empathy is and why it is a valuable perspective.

Lori Gruen is a leading scholar in Animal Studies and Feminist Philosophy. She is the author and editor of over a dozen books, including most recently Carceral Logics (Cambridge, 2022) co-edited with Justin Marceau and Animal Crisis (Polity, 2022) co-authored with Alice Crary. Gruen’s work in practical ethics and political philosophy focuses on issues that impact those often overlooked in traditional ethical investigations, e.g. women, people of color, incarcerated people, and non-human animals. Gruen has documented the history of The First 100 chimpanzees in research in the US and has an evolving website that documents the journey to sanctuary of the remaining chimpanzees in research labs, The Last 1000.


Unedited Video

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