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2009 - 2010 Events: It May Be Legal, But Is It Right?

  • Taxi to the Dark Side: Film Screeing Followed by Q&A with Director Alex Gibney

    Tuesday, September 22, 6 PM

    Winner of the 2008 Academy Award for documentary feature, Taxi to the Dark Side is a gripping investigation into a murder mystery that examines the death of an Afghan taxi driver at Bagram Air Base. The film exposes a worldwide policy of detention and interrogation that condones torture and the abrogation of human rights. This disturbing and often brutal film is the most incisive examination to date of the Bush Administration’s willingness, in its prosecution of the “war on terror,” to undermine the essence of the rule of law.

  • Levan Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Healthiness - Does American society have a moral duty to ensure adequate health care for all its members

    Friday, September 25, 2009, Noon - 1:30 PM (Ground Zero Cafe)

    Co-sponsor: The Pacific Center for Health Policy and Ethics

    Healthcare in the U.S. is currently provided through a hodgepodge of mechanisms: Emergency care, charitable clinics, MediCare, private insurers, the Vetrans Administration, public vaccination programs, school clinics and more.

    As the political debate heats up over how or whether to create an efficient universal system for the provision of health care, we want to address a more fundamental moral question: Does morality require a society like ours to provide adequate health care to its members? Do children and vetrans have a moral claim on society that adults who have not bought private health insurance do not? Should moral claims to healthcare be treated as matters of entitlement or of charity? And if we do have a claim on others to provide us with healthcare, what, if any, are our individual responsibilities for remaining healthy?

    Let's get downn to the underlying moral issues upon which a principled public policy on healthcare might be built.

    Moderated by: Sharon Lloyd, Professor of Philosophy, Law, and Political Science, USC Dornsife

    Guest Panelists:

    Alexander Capron, Professor of Law and Medicine, Scott H. Bice Chair in Healthcare Law, Policy, and Ethics, USC Gould School of Law

    Pamela B. Schaff, MD, Assistant Dean for Curriculum. Director of the Program in Medical Humanities, Arts, and Ethics. Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Family Medicine, USC Keck School of Medicine

    Stephen Finlay, Associate Professor of Philosophy, USC College

    Jennifer auf der Springe, Inquisitive Student,Health and Humanities Major, USC Dornsife

  • Balancing Concerns: Do Human Rights Matter in a Global Recession?

    Tuesday, October 6, 6 PM - 8 PM (University Club Pub Room)

    Co-sponsors: Unruh Institute of Politics and the Center for International Studies

    Are economic pressures causing the United States to de-prioritize human rights in our dealings with other countries?

    What are responsible strategies for governments to ensure that their economic growth agendas don't jeopordize the human rights of the poor and disadvantaged in the nations with whom they are working?

    Is the U.S. harming the cause of spreading human rights and democracy by cooperating so closely on economic issues with nations that don't respect the rights of their own citizens? Or does this type of engagement create the type of economic growth that will empower these countries' dispossessed residents.

    These questions and others will be addressed when the Unruh Institute of Politics and the Levan Institute co-host a wide-ranging panel discussion titled "Balancing Concerns: Do Human Rights Matter in a Global Recession?"


    Alison Renteln, Department of Political Science and human rights law expert, USC

    David Kang, School of International Relations and Director of Korean Studies Institute, USC

    Dick Castner, Western Regional Director at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

    Christian Whiton, former Deputy Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea

    Adam Weissman, Class of 2010, USC


  • Belief Behind Bars: A Call for Human Rights and Religious Freedom in Iran

    October 14, 7:30 PM (Bovard Auditorium)

    Co-sponsors: The USC Office of Religious Life and the Los Angeles Baha'i Center

    International artists and religious leaders gather together to speak out against the upcoming trial of the Baha'i leadership in Tehran and to support human rights and religious freedom in Iran.


    Rainn Wilson, The Office

    Eva La Rou, CSI: Miami

    KC Porter, Grammy award winning musician/producer

  • Waltz With Bashir

    Oct 25, 2009, 6:30 PM - 9 PM (Eileen Norris Cinema Theatre)

    Nominated: Best Foreign Film, 2009 Academy Awards

    Winner: Best Foreign Film, Golden Globes

    Winner: Best Picture, National Society of Film Critics

    Winner: 6 Israeli Academy Awards

    One night at a bar, an old friend tells director Ari Folman about a recurring nightmare in which he is chased by 26 vicious dogs. The two men conclude that there's a connection between the dream and their Israeli Army mission in the first Lebanon War of the early eighties. Ari is surprised that he can't remember a thing anymore about that period of his life. Intrigued by this riddle, he decides to meet and interview old friends and comrades around the world. As Ari delves deeper and deeper into the mystery, his memory begins to return in surreal images.

    "An amazing film! A work of astonishing aesthetic integrity and searing moral power." - A.D. Scott, The New York Times.

  • Rosalie Silberman Abella, Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada: " Human Rights and History's Judgement"

    October 27, 12:30 PM - 2 PM (USC University Club, Banquet Room)

    Co-sponsors: USC Provost's Distinguished Visitor Program and USC Gould School of Law

    Justice Rosalie Abella's life has been a series of "firsts": She was Canada's first Jewish woman judge and the country’s youngest ever. She was the first woman chair of the Ontario Labour Relations Board and the first woman in the British Commonwealth to become the head of a Law Reform Commission. In August 2004, she was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, becoming the first Jewish woman to sit on the Canadian Supreme Court bench. Abella is considered one of Canada's foremost experts on human rights law. Abella has also been active in Canadian cultural life, is the recipient of 27 honorary degrees, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

  • Levan Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics: The Ethics of Eating: Is it possible to eat with a clear concience?

    Friday, October 30, 2009, Noon - 1:30 PM  (Ground Zero Cafe)

    We live in a world today where our food choices are almost limitless. But as our food-options multiply, so do the methods of killing, raising, transporting, preparing, and engineering food for our consumption.

    What we choose to eat may help perpetuate cruel or unjust treatments of animals, utilize resources that have a prfound impact on the well-being of others around the world, and negatively impact the environment in a myriad of ways.  How can we indulge in the vast array of food options open to us but still ensure that our choices are morally responsible ones?  Is it possible to eat with a clear conscience?

    Moderated by: Sharon Lloyd, Professor of Philosophy, Law, and Political Science, USC Dornsife.

    Guest Panelists:

    Edwin McCann, Professor of Philosophy

    John Strauss, Professor of Economics

    Kory DeClark, Inquisitive Graduate Student, Philosophy, USC Dornsife


  • Levan Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics: Not okay to pay this way?

    Friday, November 20, 2009, Noon - 1:30 PM (Ground Zero Cafe)

    Co-Sponsor: Marshall Business Student Government

    Is there anything wrong with paying an executive a salary that dwarves that of those at the bottom of the corporate latter? Must executive compensation depend on the standard metrics of performance, merit or contribution? And what about incentive structures in compensation packages that lead to risky behavior that could harm shareholders or the general public?

    When it comes to compensating executives, when is it not okay to pay in a particular way?

    Moderated by: Sharon Lloyd, Professor of Philosophy, Law, and Political Science, USC Dornsife

    Guest Panelists:

    Ed Lawler, Marshall School of Business, USC

    Nina Walton, Gould School of Law, USC

    Victoria Chernova, Inquisitive Student, Business and International Relations


  • Bringing Ethics into the Classroom: Workshop for Faculty and Teaching Assistants

    January 21, 2010, 1 PM - 3 PM (Doheny Library Intellectual Commons)

    Featuring Dallas Willard, Professor of Philosophy, USC Dornsife

    Co-sponsor: The Center for Excellence in Teaching

    This teaching workshop will focus on strategies for incorporating discussions of ethical issues into any course, teaching ethics across the cultural divide, and using the new Levan Online Ethics Resources Center.


  • Exhibition: “IT MAY BE LEGAL. BUT IS IT RIGHT?”

    January 26-29 (SOS Lawn)

    A public art rendering of Levan’s annual theme in collaboration with USC Roski art students (FA 335 New Genres: Experimental Practices in Contemporary Art). Come view sculptural, photographic, and performance art that invites you to reflect on our annual question. Check out student graffiti walls that will change daily with a new subject for consideration. Pick up a marker and add your thoughts.

    Click here to view project descriptions.

    Click here for more about the exhibition

  • No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti: Film Screening

    Friday, February 12, 7 PM (Norris Cinema Theatre/Frank Sinatra Hall)

    Co-sponsor: USC School of Cinematic Arts

    A father’s love for his child is unconditional, a bond that can’t be broken. But sometimes government bureaucracy can interfere. Li Wu-hisung lives in a harbor zone in Taiwan with his small daughter. He doesn’t have a job, so he takes on risky tasks on boats to earn money. When he tries to do the right thing and enroll his daughter in a school, the government decides it’s in the child’s best interest to remove her from his care. The title of the film, which translates to I can’t live without you, becomes evident once the man’s daughter is taken from him. He does everything he can to get her back, leading to a desperate standoff in front of the media and the world.

  • Levan Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics: Xxtreme Minors - When should we allow minors to put themselves in dangerous situations?

    Friday, February 26, 12 PM -1:30 PM (Ground Zero Cafe)

    We like to see teenagers push themselves, strive to achieve great things, show they are independent, and take risks. But taking risks can mean putting oneself in dangerous situations. There are the immediate physical dangers of extreme sports, the unpredictable hazards of natural expeditions, the psychological and physical risks of body-focused activities such as ballet, and the more mundane dangers of everyday life, including driving, consuming alcohol, and regularly eating fast food.

    How dangerous is too dangerous? How old is old enough? Who should make these decisions?

    This question was recently brought to a head as the Dutch authorities have been struggling with whether to allow 13 year old Laura Dekker to attempt to become the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the world without assistance. Dekker's father approved of the voyage, but what of society's interest in protecting its minors from physical and emotional harm?

    Moderated by: Lyn Boyd-Judson, Director, Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics

    Guest Panelists:

    Sharon Lloyd, Professor of Philosophy, Law, and Political Science, USC College

    Donna Spuijt-Metz, Keck School of Medicine

    Jillian Schlesinger, Independent filmmaker and television writer-producer

    Laura Small, Inquisitive Student, Anthropology, and Whitewater Rafting Guide 


  • The History, Politics & Future of Arab Jews with Rachel Shabi

    Friday, March 12, 1:00 PM (Waite Phillips Hall, B27)

    Co-sponsors: The Levantine Cultural Center and the USC Middle East Studies Student Association

    Rachel Shabi lays bare the painful division within Israeli society between Ashkenazi Jews, whose families come from Eastern Europe, and Sephardic or Mizrahi Jews, who come from the Arab countries of the Middle East. Herself from an Iraqi Jewish family, Shabi explores the history of this relationship, tracing it back to the first days of the new state of Israel...Through a combination of archival research and personal interviews, Shabi brings to light the prejudices that permeate Israeli society and demonstrates how they affect Mizrahi lives and hopes.

  • Levan Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics: Parenting Our Parents - How should we manage the care of our parents as they get older?

    Friday, March 26, Noon -1:30 PM(Ground Zero Cafe)

    We all know that parents have to take care of their children. But does there come a time when we have to start taking care of our parents? What if it costs us serious time and serious money? What if they fight us and tell us to go away and leave them alone? Should we respect their autonomy as we watch them deteriorate, or should we force them to do what we think best for them? How should we parent our parents?

    Moderator: Sharon Lloyd, Professor of Philosophy, Law, and Political Science

    Guest Panlists:

    Shawn Herz, M.S.G. LM.F.T. Marriage, Family and Child Therapist. Director of program development for the Los Angeles Caregiverr Resource Center

    Merril Silverstein Ph.D., Professor of Gerontology and Sociology, USC Dornsife

    Jack Peace, Inquisitive Undergrad, Pre-Med

  • The Ethics of State Involvement in Women's Health

    Monday, April 5, 8:30 AM - 5 PM (Davidson Conference Center)

    Co-sponsors: USC Institute for Global Health and USC Center for International Studies

    Conference co-chairs:

    Alison Dundes Renteln, Ph.D., J.D., Professor of Political Science & Anthropology, USC Dornsife and Jonathan M. Samet, M.D., M.S., Director, USC Institute for Global Health, Professor and Flora L. Thornton Chair, Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine

    For many women around the globe, health has become the central intersection of the personal and the political; women's bodies are the arena for policy debates about population, poverty, reproduction, and morality.  How do the laws and policies of a nation-state affect women's health? Is the state invested in these issues because women are seen to be bearers and nurturers of future citizens? Or are there other concerns such as economic development, human welfare, or religious ideology that shape this engagement? What are the current and historical responsibilities of the state in addressing women’s health issues? How can they be measured and improved upon, and how do we approach the underlying ethical issues in practical and useful ways for women around the globe?


    Global Norms and International Agreements on Women's Health, State Policies and Women's Health, Economic Empowerment, Development Programs, and Women's Health, Gendered Consequence of Violence and War on Women's Health and Global Medicine, Global Norms, State Policies

  • Tsotsi: Screening followed by discussion with director Gavin Hood

    Sunday, April 11, 6 PM (Eileen Norris Cinema Theatre)

    Co-sponsor: USC School of Cinematic Arts

    Set amidst the sprawling Johannesburg township of Soweto - where survival is the primary objective - TSOTSI traces six days in the life of a ruthless young gang leader who ends up caring for a baby accidentally kidnapped during a car-jacking.

    The film is a psychological thriller in which the protagonist is compelled to confront his own brutal nature and face the consequences of his actions. It puts a human face on both the victims and the perpetrators of violent crime and is ultimately a story of hope and a triumph of love over rage.

  • Exhibit: The Resistance to the Khmer Rouge Genocide - Arms and Emotion

    Launching reception April 14, 4 PM - 7 PM (VKC Library)

    Co-sponsor: The Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education

    Exhibit open: April 14 - 20

    The Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) is the major source of documentary evidence for the tribunal established by the government of Cambodia and the United Nations to try senior members of the Khmer Rouge for crimes against humanity. DC-Cam has mounted a traveling exhibition of photographic and archival materials to provide information about the trial.

    The opening ceremony of the exhibition included remarks by USC Shoah Foundation Institute Executive Director Stephen Smith; USC School of International Relations Lecturer Kosal Path; USC Levan Institute Director Lyn Boyd-Judson; and Cambodian genocide survivor Danny Vong.

  • Business Ethics and Spirituality

    April 15, 7 PM (The Art of Living Center - Los Angeles)

    Co-sponsors: Office of Religious Life, USC Yoga and Service, USG Program Board, and the Center for Religion and Civic Culture

    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, John Paul Dejoria, and Rob Dyrdek will discuss philanthropy, the importance of ethics in business, and the practical role spirituality can play in promoting human values.

    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a world-renowned humanitarian and spiritual leader.  His foundations have touched the lives of millions of people in more than 140 countries.  Sri Sri was recently noted among India's seven most powerful individuals by Forbes-India.

    John Paul Dejoria is the founder of Paul Mitchell.  His rags-to-riches biography exemplifies the American Dream.

    Rob Dyrdek is a professional skateboarder, TV star, filmmaker, entrepreneur and a multi-faceted philanthropist.


  • LEVAN ANNUAL DISTINGUISHED LECTURE: Anthony Kronman "What is Education For?"

    Friday, April 16, 2:30 PM - 4 PM (University Club Banquet Room)

    Anthony Kronman is Sterling Professor of Law at Yale Law School. A former Dean of Yale Law School, Professor Kronman is the author of Education's End: Why our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life and teaches in the areas of contracts, bankruptcy, jurisprudence, social theory, and professional responsibility.

  • TIRP High School Leadership Conference

    Saturday, April 17, 8 AM - 3 PM

    The Levan Institute is co-sponsoring the 2010 TIRP (Teaching in International Relations Program, USC Dornsife) High School Leadership Conference

    Ethics and Foreign Policy: US Options With Iran

    High school students from around USC will come together for a day to represent conflicting worldviews and different ethical perspectives and deliberate US policy options towards Iran. TIRP volunteers, drawn from USC undergraduates, will serve as mentors for the high school students to ensure a thoughtful dialogue to answer the question: what is a strategic and ethical foreign policy towards Iran?

  • Levan Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics: Past and Distant People - What are our obligations to the dead?

    April 30th, 12 PM - 1:30 PM (Ground Zero Cafe)

    "Dead men tell no tales," so why should it matter how we treat them? What's wrong with partying on their graves, violating the terms of their wills, or speaking ill of them? What could be the basis of any moral obligations in the treatment of those no longer living among us?

    Moderator: Sharon Lloyd, Professor of Philosophy, Law, and Political Science, USC Dornsife

    Guest Panelists:

    Lynn Swartz Dodd, Lecturer, Religion, USC Dornsife. Curator, USC Archaeology Research Center. Director: Tell al-Judiadah Publication Project, Co-director: Kenan Tepe Excavations (Upper Tigris Archaeological Research Project), Resarch Associate, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA

    Dallas Willard, Professor of Philosophy, USC Dornsife

    Ben Rolnik, Inquisitive Undergraduate, Philosophy

  • Click the links below to see speakers from our 2009-2010 speakers from our series: