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Virtue Forum Luncheons

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Virtue Forum Luncheons


Our Virtue Forum Luncheon series began during the planning stages of the Institute, as a way for OU faculty and staff to discuss flourishing and virtue at OU and in higher education generally.

Approximately once a month, OU faculty, staff and graduate students convene over lunch to share virtue-related research and explore new ideas. Participants are united by an interest in approaching education informed by an understanding of human flourishing, character, and virtue.

Lunch is provided for all participants, but registration is required. Please contact us if you are interested in attending.

2019 - 2020 Virtue Forum Luncheons

Abstracts (where available) and other event information can be viewed by clicking the titles below. 

Civility and its Disappointments

August 28th, 2019 | 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Bizzell Memorial Library, Community Room

Amy Olberding, Ph.D. 

Presidential Professor of Philosophy
The University of Oklahoma



Presentation Abstract

Many virtues may be disappointing. After all, we often most need virtues when circumstances are troubling and vexing, when we are challenged by experiences difficult to navigate rather than easy. Civility, however, is a virtue that seems to have a special relationship to disappointment. Practicing civility, I argue, entails cultivating strategies, both behavioral and psychological, for managing disappointment. To be robustly civil in the ways suggested by the early Confucians requires hope and optimism about other people and our relations with them. But other people and our relations will, perhaps inevitably, fail to sustain that hope and optimism. We will be disappointed. Civility, as the Confucians present it, engages us in forms of disappointment management.

About Dr. Amy Olberding

Amy Olberding is Presidential Professor of Philosophy at OU.  Her research focuses on early Confucian ethics.  She is the author of The Wrong of Rudeness (Oxford 2019) and Moral Exemplars in the Analects (Routledge 2011).



Intellectual virtue: bridging the gap between personal and social epistemology

September 18th, 2019 | 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Bizzell Memorial Library, Community Room

Wayne Riggs, Ph.D. 

Professor and Chair of Philosophy
The University of Oklahoma

Assessment Link:  


Presentation Abstract -

There is a substantial and ever-growing body of evidence from a wide range of fields that the way humans cognize (think, reason, figure stuff out), at least when we do it well, is as a collective. Social psychology and cognitive science tell us that, as individuals, our reasoning processes are systematically biased and lazy, and hence not very reliable. Luckily, there’s lots of work from philosophy of science and social epistemology that describes how we are able to combine our cognitive efforts in a way that yields an epistemic total greater than the sum of its parts. But feminist epistemologists and others have for years warned that the very social embeddedness of human reason can lead us astray in still new ways. Virtue epistemology has seen rapid development in recent years as a theory of individual epistemic excellence. What is needed now is a version of virtue epistemology that takes account of our social ways and describes how creatures like us, social thinkers, can manage to think well together.


About Dr. Wayne Riggs

Wayne Riggs is a Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at the University of Oklahoma. His primary areas of interest are epistemology (especially virtue epistemology, understanding, epistemic luck, and social epistemology), philosophy of education, and philosophy of emotion.

Sacrificial Listening: An Epistemology and Pedagogy for Intellectual Humility in the Humanities

October 9th, 2019 | 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Bizzell Memorial Library, Community Room

David Vishanoff, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Religious Studies
The University of Oklahoma


Assessment Link:

Presentation Abstract -

One component of intellectual humility is the discipline of listening to unfamiliar voices, interpreting them in terms of our own categories, and then deconstructing our interpretations and categories by listening again to detect where we are distorting others to serve our own ends and shore up our own identities. This practice is grounded in an epistemology that I will characterize as relational, recursive, eschatological, and sacrificial. It has implications for both methodology and pedagogy in the humanities. It emerged not from research in epistemology or educational theory but from reflection on my own practice as a scholar of Islamic hermeneutics and as a leader of class discussions about Islamic texts.


About Dr. David Vishanoff

David Vishanoff is Associate Professor of Islamic studies in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He received his Ph.D. in West and South Asian Religions from Emory University in 2004. His first two books, The Formation of Islamic Hermeneutics and A Critical Introduction to Islamic Legal Theory, dealt with medieval theories of Qur’anic interpretation; he has been extending that project into the modern period, beginning in Indonesia where he spent the spring of 2013 as a Fulbright scholar. His other long–term projects are an epistemology and pedagogy of “sacrificial listening” and a series of studies on Muslim uses of the Bible, for which he is reconstructing and translating an eighth–century Muslim rewriting of the “Psalms of David.” These projects have led him to dabble in digital methods of data visualization and distant reading.

   Is there value to adversity?

November 20th, 2019 | 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Bizzell Memorial Library, Community Room

Eranda Jayawickreme

Professor, Department of Psychology
Wake Forest University




Assessment Link:

Presentation Abstract

The idea that struggle, trauma and adversity can be a catalyst for positive outcomes has a long intellectual history. Can adversity have an upside? Is there a purpose to suffering? Is it really the case that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? Is suffering required for achieving a good life? Are the fruit of suffering greater well-being? New knowledge? Wisdom? What does the research tell us about the ubiquity of such changes, and can we trust the research? Is the idea of growth through suffering rooted in reality, or an attempt to justify the suffering in our world? Is it possible to intentionally promote growth following adversity? I address these key questions in this proposed talk.

About Dr. Eranda Jayawickreme

Eranda Jayawickreme is associate professor of psychology at Wake Forest University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010. His research focuses on well-being, moral psychology, growth following adversity, wisdom, and integrative theories of personality, and has worked with populations in Rwanda, Sri Lanka and the USA. His awards include the 2015 Rising Star award from the Association for Psychological Science, Wake Forest University's Award for Excellence in Research, a Mellon Refugee Initiative Fund Fellowship, and multiple grants from the John Templeton Foundation, the Templeton Religion Trust, the Asia Foundation/ USAID, and the European Association for Personality Psychology.


   Privation of America's Public Institutions

December 4, 2019 | 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Oklahoma Memorial Union, Regents Room

Lawrence Baines

Professor, Department of Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum
University of Oklahoma




Assessment Link:

Presentation Abstract

Many American public institutions are being transformed from serving the common good to generating revenues for a select few. Privatization is redefining the military, prisons, higher education, and k-12 education for the foreseeable future. This session will provide a quick overview with a particular focus on privatization of k-12 schools.


About Dr. Lawrence Baines
Lawrence Baines is a professor in the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education and author of 12 books and 100+ articles.



Title TBD

January 15th, 2020 | 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Bizzell Memorial Library, Community Room






Presentation Abstract - TBD



Virtue, Morality, and Theodicy

February 18th, 2020 | 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Bizzell Memorial Library, Community Room

David Shatz

Ronald P. Stanton University Professor of Philosophy, Ethics, and Religious Thought




Presentation Abstract - Whereas many theistic philosophers have vigorously attempted to "justify the ways of God" in the face of suffering, in recent times others have argued that it is religiously and/or morally wrong or inappropriate to do so. Their approach has been called anti-theodicy.  This presentation will examine criticallly considerations of morality and virtue that have been marshalled for an anti-theodicy perspective.  

David Shatz is the Ronald P. Stanton University Professor of Philosophy, Ethics, and Religious Thought at Yeshiva University. He has edited, co-edited, or authored sixteen books and has published approximately ninety articles and reviews, dealing with both general and Jewish philosophy. His publications in general philosophy focus on the theory of knowledge, free will, ethics, and the philosophy of religion, while his writings in Jewish philosophy focus on Jewish ethics, Maimonides, Judaism and science, Judaism’s view of other religions, and twentieth-century rabbinic figures. In recognition of his achievements as a scholar and teacher, he was awarded the Presidential Medallion at Yeshiva University, the first member of the various university faculties to receive this highest honor. A book concerning Dr. Shatz’s life and thought appears in The Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers, a series that the  publisher, Brill, states “showcases outstanding Jewish thinkers who have made lasting contributions to constructive Jewish philosophy in the second half of the twentieth century.”



Practicing Humility and Pluralism while Promoting Healthier Societies

March 25th, 2020 | 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Bizzell Memorial Library, Community Room

Sean Alejandro Valles

Associate Professor in Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Philosophy




Presentation Abstract 

Health policy scholars are increasingly advocating for social reform as a means of improving health for all, and especially for marginalized populations; we need a “culture of health”. This is in part because health science has gradually uncovered that no only is health unequally distributed across populations, but 1) the health gaps are wider than they might seem, and 2) social determinants of health are responsible for many of those health problems and also point to social interventions that would deal with ill health at its root causes: fair wages, neighborhoods where it is safe to walk and play outside, affordable nutritious food, etc. Efforts to promote these sorts of social reforms raise philosophical and practical challenges. I argue that such efforts must navigate their relationships with two particular philosophical concepts: pluralism and humility. How can we advance health in diverse societies when there is such a plurality of views about the very meaning of health, varying within and between communities? Meanwhile, scholars of population health have tacitly argued for epistemic humility among health experts, but which sense(s) of epistemic humility are appropriate, given that there are multiple visions of what constitutes epistemic humility? I offer some recommendations on how to address both questions.


About  Dr. Sean Alejandro Valles

Sean Valles is an Associate Professor with an appointment in the Michigan State University Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Philosophy. His research spans a range of topics in the philosophy of population health, from the use of evidence in medical genetics to the roles played by race concepts in epidemiology. He is author of the the 2018 book, Philosophy of Population Health: Philosophy for a New Public Health Era. He is also Director of the MSU Science and Society @ State Program, supporting interdisciplinary faculty collaborations that join the humanities, arts, and sciences.


The Accident of Birth and Voices on the Move.  Writing by and about Refugees

April 15th, 2020 | 12:00 - 1:00 PM
Bizzell Memorial Library, Community Room

Roxana Cazan

Assistant Professor of English and Women's Studies




Presentation Abstract -

In her talk, Roxana Cazan will discuss two projects inspired by the experience of displacement, immigration, and exile that has profoundly defined the second decade of the 21st century and her own life. The Accident of Birth is a book of poems that explores the idea that existence is, in many ways, random. Being born in a certain country can be a matter of luck, and some individuals have the privilege of relocation. That the recent refugee crises have provoked us all to reconsider what it means to have the privilege of living in the West is fairly clear. What is less known, however, is that, often, relocation also entails a series of abandonments, of difficult sacrifices, perhaps of a more sentimental nature, a disconnectedness from all that is familiar. As an intellectual immigrant to the United States from post-communist Romania, Cazan has also struggled to reconcile with the things she had to give up, with living by herself, and with feeling irreconcilably alone. Many immigrants, however, have to face the harrowing processes of being othered, pushed into margins, and stripped of agency. Without claiming to know much about other people’s experiences, Cazan’s poetry gives voice to some of the unheard stories of refuge seeking as well as to her own in order to reveal the complicated nature of immigration. Co-edited with Domnica Radulescu, Voices on the Move is an anthology that gives voice to the realities of refugee life that have become particularly problematic after the United States announced its Executive Order 13769, also known as “the travel ban,” and the Trump Presidency declared its zero tolerance attitude towards undocumented immigrants, particularly those arriving from Mexico, Central and South America. As such, this multi-genre collection is concerned with border crossings and the ways in which migration, refuge, and exile issue a creative space in which the voices of those engaged in movement can be heard. Both of these books couldn’t be more relevant and necessary today: they offer an exploration of the trauma of migration highlighting that many refugees who escape war, famine, gang violence, or political oppression in their native lands encounter new and unexpected challenges in the countries in which they seek refuge; the books also illustrate the belief that artistic expression can transform and heal, educate and raise consciousness.


Roxana L. Cazan’s poems have most recently been featured in Connecticut River Review, Construction Magazine, Cold Creek Review, Hektoen International, Watershed Review, The Peeking Cat Anthology, The Portland Review, The Woody Guthrie Anthology (Village Book Press 2019), and others. A Romanian immigrant to the US, Roxana is the author of a poetry book entitled The Accident of Birth (Main Street Rag in 2017) and the co-editor of Voices on the Move: Writing by and about Refugees (Solis Press, 2020). She lives in Oklahoma City, where she is working on a manuscript that explores the challenges of motherhood and of raising a multi-ethnic, multi-racial child in a world profoundly troubled by race relations. 


Abstracts (where available) and other event information can be viewed by clicking the titles below.