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2010-2011 Events: Talking to Strangers, Engaging Disagreement


    September 8-14, (VKC Courtyard)

    Photographs and text by Jayson Kellogg, USC College Undergraduate, deployed in Iraq from 2006-2008. Explore the perspectives of soldiers, citizens, and a shared war.

    Opening reception September 8, 5 p.m. Tyler Pavilion with remarks by artist Jayson Kellogg and Director of the Levan Institute, Lyn Boyd-Judson.

  • Crude: An Evening With Documentary Filmmaker Joe Berlinger

    Tuesday, September 14, 7 p.m. (Ray Stark Family Theatre)

    Co-sponsor: School of Cinematic Arts

    Crude tells the epic story of one of the largest and most controversial legal cases on the planet: the infamous $27 billion “Amazon Chernobyl” lawsuit pitting 30,000 rainforest dwellers in Ecuador against the U.S. oil giant Chevron. Winner of 19 international awards, Crude takes you inside a riveting, high stakes drama steeped in global politics, the environmental movement, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, multinational corporate power, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures.



    Followed by Q & A with award-winning director Joe Berlinger

    "A legal thriller with rare depth and power” — Stephen Holden, the New York Times

  • Levan Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics: WAR OF WORDS - Where do we draw the line between free speech and hate speech?

    Wednesday, September 22, 12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.  (Tutor Campus Center 302)

    Winning the fight for justice requires that you change the minds of those who disagree with you — or at least of the undecided.  When the debate is passionate and increasingly divisive — Muslim mosques, gay marriage, abortion — what are the proper rules of engagement?  How can you be true to yourself and your most strongly held beliefs, while respecting those who vehemently disagree with you? Where legal lines may provide protection, they may not promote conversation or meaningful dialogue.  Beyond drawing a bright legal line between free speech and hate speech, are there other ethical limits to how you can publicly express your opinion?  Where do we draw the line between speaking our mind and expressing hate?

  • Islamophobia Town Hall Forum

    October 3, 1:30pm - 4:00pm (Taper Hall of Humanities 101)


    Co-sponsored by the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Greater Los Angeles Area Office, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), Muslim Student Association West (MSA West), and One Legacy Radio (OLR)

    The current climate in the United States in terms of Islamophobia is worse today than the 24 months after 9/11. There are concerns that Muslims in America may not have access to sufficient resources and experience to positively and constructively engage friends, neighbors, co-workers, students, professors, and others in addressing subjects such as the so called "Ground Zero Mosque," the false perception that sharia law is taking over the United States, and the real/perceived lack of religious freedoms and tolerance in Muslim countries for non-Muslims. 
    This event is an opportunity for various Muslim organizations and stakeholders to share their experiences and expertise with Muslims and non-Muslims concerned with the increasing trend of Islamophobia in the United States.

  • Levan Annual Distinguished Lecture: Danielle Allen - “ANONYMOUS: Political Discourse and Civility in the Digital Age”

    October 13, 2 pm, (Tutor Campus Center 352)


    Danielle Allen is a political theorist who has published broadly in democratic theory, political sociology, and the history of political thought. Widely known for her work on justice and citizenship in both ancient Athens and modern America, Allen is the author of The World of Prometheus: the Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (2000), Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown vs. the Board of Education(2004), and Why Plato Wrote (2010).  In 2002 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for her ability to combine "the classicist's careful attention to texts and language with the political theorist's sophisticated and informed engagement." Allen is currently working on books on the Declaration of Independence, citizenship in the digital age, and education and equality.

  • Levan Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics: THE NEIGHBOR WITHIN - What should we do about America's illegal/undocumented immigrants?

    Wednesday, October 20, Noon (Ground Zero Cafe)


    Calls for immigration reform are coming from across the political spectrum. The one thing almost everyone seems to agree on is that the current situation is unsustainable. Immigrants who circumvented the legal immigration process in order to find a better life in the United States are accused of being a burden on social services, increasing unemployment and crime, and undermining the rule of law. Meanwhile, their undocumented status makes them subject to exploitation and forces them to live with the persistent fear that their families could suddenly be torn apart.
    What should our “nation of immigrants” do about our 11 million uninvited neighbors within?

  • 'BUY' THIS CANDIDATE: When Is Political Marketing Unethical and What Should We Do About It?

    Wednesday, October 27, 6 - 8 p.m. (University Club Pub Room)


    Co-sponsor: Unruh Institute of Politics

    With so much at stake each election cycle, candidates, political parties, and special interest groups spend huge sums on political marketing activities.  Every election brings fresh allegations of underhanded marketing tactics that deceive or manipulate voters and undermine the democratic process.  Our panel of experts will attempt to cut through the spin and counter-spin to answer the question: When are political marketing tactics unethical and what can we do about it?

  • USC Annual Ethics Cup Competition

    Saturday, November 13, 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.


    A campus-wide competition in partnership with Writing 340 courses at USC College, Marshall School of Business, and Viterbi School of Engineering. The goal is to provide student teams with an enjoyable way to engage ethical questions, develop critical thinking skills, and compete with their fellow students from disciplines across the university. The winning team will represent USC in the California Ethics Bowl.

  • FILM SCREENING: District 9

    Tuesday, November 16, 7 p.m. (Ray Stark Family Theatre)


    Co-sponsor: School of Cinematic Arts

    A tale of extraterrestrial refugees stuck in contemporary South Africa. It’s been 28 years since the aliens first made contact, and in order to accommodate them, the government of South Africa set up a makeshift home in District 9 as politicians and world leaders debated how to handle the situation.

  • Levan Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics: ROBOTS AND ALIENS - When the time comes, should human rights apply?

    Wednesday, November 17, Noon (Ground Zero Cafe)


    As robotic and Artificial Intelligence technologies that aim to imitate human beings continue to improve, we face the possibility that our creations may someday claim for themselves some of the rights and protections we take to be universal to man.  Less likely, but also possible, is that if contact with aliens is made, they could also make this demand of us.  What, if anything, would justify giving moral rights and protections to robots and extraterrestrials?

  • TEDxTrojans Student Conference - MAKE YOUR MARK

    Saturday, November 20, 1 p.m. - 6 p.m. (Tudor Campus Center, The Forum)


    Co-sponsors: TEDxTrojans, USC Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics, and Marshall Society and Business Lab

    TEDxTrojans brings together inspired and passionate USC undergraduate and graduate students in a single-day conference. The theme of this TEDxTrojans event is “Make Your Mark” and encourages students to think about the world in terms of how they can contribute and make an impact. Speakers and performers from myriad USC schools, majors and interests will share their ideas for social and environmental impact and show how they are changing the world.

    In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. 

    Click here for more information.

  • World Outside My Shoes: One Witness Remembers the Genocide in Rwanda

    Tuesday, February 1, 4:00 PM (USC Fishbowl Chapel)

    Co-sponsors: USC Shoah Foundation Institute, the Office of Religious Life, and the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics.

    Carl Wilkens, the founder of World Outside My Shoes and former head of Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Rwanda, was the only American who remained in the country when the 1994 genocide began. Hear his personal account of what he witnessed and his inspiring call to action against bigotry and violence.

  • Cinema of Substance - Beyond The Call: An Evening with Filmmaker Adrian Belic

    Sunday, February 6, 6 p.m. (Ray Stark Family Theatre)


    Co-sponsor: School of Cinematic Arts

    From the brothers who brought you the Academy Award nominated film Ghengis Blues, comes the next great adventure, Beyond the Call. In an Indiana Jones meets Mother Teresa adventure, three eccentric senior citizens - former soldiers and modern-day knights - travel the world delivering life-saving humanitarian aid directly into the hands of civilians and doctors. Ed Artis, James Laws and Walt Ratterman inspire through deeds not words, in some of the most dangerous yet beautiful places on earth, the front lines of war.

    Beyond the Call has premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, screened at over 150 film festivals on five continents and has won more than 50 awards, including Grand Jury Prizes and Audience Awards.

  • Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics: Secrets in Cyberspace

    Wednesday, February 23, Noon (Ground Zero Cafe)


    In September, Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge after being outed by his roommate on Twitter and Facebook.  A couple of months later the release of hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. government documents by WikiLeaks led to both death threats and worldwide praise for founder Julian Assange, declarations of a new era of greater public awareness, and warnings of a grave new threat to national security.  It may also have been the catalyst for revolution against the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt – perhaps even a wave of change across the Arab world.  As new leak-sharing organizations modeled after WikiLeaks appear, the issues of exposure, censorship and safety in cyberspace have come to the forefront of our public discussion.

    While truth is a worthy ideal, clearly some things are better kept secret. It may be easy to label lies as unethical, but what about revealing the truth? What might put others in danger?  What is too important not to share with the world – and how do you decide? When is it ethical to reveal secrets on the Internet?

  • USC Annual Ethics Essay Competition

    Co-sponsors: The Writing Programs at the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences, the Marshall School of Business, and the Viterbi School of Engineering. 


    The First Annual USC Ethics Essay Contest aims to recognize the best written work on ethics by undergraduates across the curriculum.  Papers can be a discussion of a current ethical issue, or a critical case analysis of recent ethics violations in a professional field (engineering, business, health sciences, law, politics, etc.). Click here for more information.


    Cinema of Substance - Double Feature + Coffeehouse


    Co-sponsored with the School of Cinematic Arts

    Tuesday March 29, 7:00 PM - 10:30 PM (Ray Stark Family Theatre)

    No One Knows About Persian Cats (2009) - 7 PM

    Recently released from prison, two young musicians decide to form a band. Together they search the underworld of contemporary Tehran for other players. Forbidden by the authorities to play in Iran, they plan to escape from their clandestine existence, and dream of performing in Europe. But with no money and no passports, it won't be easy...

    The Red Chapel (2009) - 9:00  PM

    A journalist with no scruples, a disabled man who suffered a stroke, and a comedian travel to North Korea with a mission - to make people laugh although they live under one of the world’s most notorious regimes. The Red Chapel chronicles the amusing and often bizarre encounters between this Danish “theatre troupe” and their North Korean hosts in a one of a kind, East-meets-West-meets-East look at cultural exchange in the modern world's last anti-globalist bastion.

    Winner: Grand Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival (2010)

  • Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics:


    GEN Y -- Will they bring a diferent understanding to what constitutes a moral foreign policy?

    Wednesday, March 30, Noon (Ground Zero Cafe)

    As the boom of Gen Yers - those born in the 1980s and after - begin to make their mark in the political arena, what, if anything, can we expect and/or hope to see change? Historical conflict and more recent nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea have fueled long-standing moral and political concerns in the U.S. Are the moral concerns of young Iranians, North Koreans any different from those of past generations?

    Will old conflicts and ideologies continue to dominate international dialogue or can we expect something different from a younger generation?

  • International Conference on Global Justice

    Thursday and Friday, April 7-8, 2011 (Davidson Conference Center)


    Hosted by the Department of Political Science (USC Dornsife) and Consulate General of France in Los Angeles

    Co-sponsored with University of Paris VIII, the USC Center for International Studies, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute

    A two-day collaborative conference focusing on the emerging field of "Global Justice" in the social and human sciences, law, medicine and economics. Panels will consider the impact of conflicts, human and environmental rights, restorative justice, and the reach of international legal institutions. 

    Click here for more information.

  • Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics: Truth or Prejudice

    Wednesday, April 27, Noon (Ground Zero Cafe)

    Should professors disclose their personal and professional opinions in class? What does it mean to expect professors to teach all views equally? How can they do so while still stating which views they find most compelling? Does knowing the professor’s opinion make a student feel that she needs to agree with the professor to receive a better grade?



    What has been your experience as a student or a professor?

    When do a professor's in-class comments cross the line into improper advocacy?

  • Click the links below to see 2010 - 2011 speakers from our series: