I am grateful to be a part of this project and am looking forward to thinking about these issues in 2022/23. We are pleased to announce that the theme for the Interdisciplinary Studies Conferences for 2022-23 is “Collective Moral Conversations”. This will be broken up into two conferences; the title of the fall conference is “Our Goods vs. My Interests”; the title of the winter conference is “Moral Contests”. Please find the call for breakout sessions for the fall conference below, and a fuller vision for the conferences attached. We anticipate that some breakout sessions may be more fully integrated with what is currently known as the King’s Public Lecture Series. While we have yet to confirm the Keynote Speaker of either of these conferences we are certain you will find the topic timely (and a little risky), needed, and exciting.

Fall 2022 Conference Title: “Our Goods vs My Interests” (September 15 & 16, 2022)

In the fall we would like to find particular wedges into collective moral conversations and their importance in the human experience. With a juxtaposition of “our goods vs. my interests,” we would like to investigate whether there are good things in life and learning that require other people. In Canada, as an example, we have long assumed that publicly funded healthcare and education are goods that are part of our collective well-being. Spiritually, there has been a long history of gathering together in worship as foundational to the experience of faith. However, more recently, the claim that one is “spiritual but not religious” frequently deemphasizes any great emphasis on communal liturgies or institutional claims on spiritual practice. Economically, Western countries have attempted to provide support and corrective measures to a growing economy that is meant to help everyone thrive. Such an effort does not happen uncontestably. There are serious objections to whether governments should advocate for particular goods as being social, like land or water, or less obviously in issues like family planning or care for the elderly. Many are also concerned with corporate influences over public goods, not the least of which are profit motives over health measures like vaccines and the contested claim that they are a public good. Further, certain justifications of arguments over the separation of Church and State have hinged on the so-called public good of faith-based governance. In the realm of business, it has long been argued that a competitive-based, free-market model is the most effective in resource distribution. In the University, efforts towards Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and the movement toward greater accessibility in admissions departments and the delivery of the curriculum are viewed by some as threats to the admission standards and the research quality of the University.

But at its root, we are left with an overriding question of whether there are any goods in life that, necessarily, are collectively good. If so, what are they? If not, what are the consequences for our lives?

Contributors to breakout sessions are encouraged to think carefully about “Our Goods vs. My Interests” from interdisciplinary perspectives. 

Formats: There are considerable format varieties that are acceptable: Some that we are looking for include 20-minute online video content that can be accessed asynchronously, panel discussions, Interdisciplinary teams that can present in-person, and in-person – workshops or talks, 60 – 90 minutes long that are engaging.  We seek to offer sessions that stretch across a wide range of disciplines and offer particular interaction between two or more traditional academic disciplines.

Some ideas include (though not an exclusive list):

  • Storytelling and its contexts
  • Technological frameworks for moral conversations
  • Languages for social change
  • Communication and “deep listening”
  • Uncommon facts and common values
  • High and low forms of visual art, performance, and literature
  • The “scientific method” and knowledge
  • The proper relationship(s) of the researcher to research
  • Changes to social structures like family, church, and school
  • Land, water, and or energy as resource or context
  • Retributive or Restorative justice
  • How to “think” well; critical thinking and argumentation
  • Diversity and identity formation
  • Political Polarization and social trust
  • Civic responsibility
  • Intentional forms of “being together”
  • Liturgies and rituals constituting common spaces
  • Government attitudes toward private property and wealth distribution and redistribution
  • Individual Lifestyles and Public Healthcare
  • Vaccinations and/or wearing a mask during COVID
  • Health and Safety Regulations
  • Student choices and public education
  • The purposes of the (Christian) Liberal Arts University
  • Nurturing moral conversations in the classroom
  • The future of democracy(ies)
  • Localization vs. globalization
  • Community social engagement in business and/or academics
  • Social Justice and human needs
  • Rights and Responsibilities
  • Income inequality and its impact on civic life
  • Confessional and accountability models of human relationship
  • Drawing lines between private, social, and public life

With the breakout sessions, then, we are looking for concrete ways that collective moral questions show up in our lives, for insight into why these are important, and for practical suggestions in engaging with these questions meaningfully. We are particularly interested in sessions that allow us to engage such serious questions meaningfully, rather than answering these questions reductively or too simplistically.

We are therefore asking you to either: 1) point out and discuss a way social goods and collective moral conversations show up in our lives in an ‘original’ breakout session; or 2) point us to someone else you may know who could discuss an issue particularly well; this could either be a person you know that you could put us in contact with, or even a video you’ve seen, or a book or article you’ve read, that described it well (a ‘curated’ presentation). Presentations are welcome from presenters within the King’s Faculty, Staff, and Students or an external presenter. Please submit proposals for breakout sessions by June 24, 2022; expect to be contacted shortly thereafter to see how we could work with you to incorporate that as a breakout session for the conference and whether it would suit the fall conference or the winter one.

Of course, if you have any questions, please ask me or your representative on the IS committee. You can email me at Raymond.Klassen@kingsu.ca.

With much appreciation,

Ray Klassen (Director)

Dr. Daniel Kim (Business)

Dr. Caitlynd Myburgh (Natural Science)

Dr. David Long (Social Sciences)

Dr. Jeff Dudiak (Arts)

Prof. Andrew Kirk (Education)

Raymond Klassen, Director of Interdisciplinary Studies

the King’s University, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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