Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thumb Twiddling

This is my stressful week where I'm in charge of not one, but two, symposiums sponsored by the Prindle Institute for Ethics. The first is on the ethics of how we communicate about climate change: six prominent speakers - two philosophers, a sociologist, a geo-scientist, a political scientist, and the director of Yale's Project on Climate Change Communication - are coming to campus to talk about how we should talk about this most urgent environmental issue of our time, or arguably of any time in human history. The second is our sixth annual Undergraduate Ethics Symposium, which brings talented, highly motivated undergraduate students from around the country (as well as some of DePauw's own best and brightest) to the Prindle Institute to share their analytic and creative works about ethics. Both events are almost guaranteed to go extremely well: an interdisciplinary committee that I put together worked for almost a year on the climate change event, and the Undergraduate Ethics Symposium (which I've attended for the last four years) is always wonderful. Nonetheless, it's hard for me to do anything else this week except pace and fret and gnaw at my fingernails.

Pacing, fretting, and fingernail-gnawing are not productive or pleasant activities.

I think it may be too much for me to expect my week to be filled with productive activities (above and beyond the productive activities associated with both symposiums), so I'm going to try to fill any free hours with pleasant ones. I crammed my weekend full of enormous quantities of sister fun: opening day of the Bloomington Farmers Market; daffodils in bloom at the House of the Singing Winds (the home and studio of Hoosier Impressionist artist T. C. Steele); lunch in the cute touristy town of Nashville, Indiana; a bus tour of Columbus, Indiana, dubbed the sixth most architecturally significant city in the United States (up there with New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington, D.C.) for its policy of having all its public buildings designed by famous modernist architects; overnight at the gorgeous historic West Baden Springs resort (rightly dubbed "the Eighth Wonder of the World"); a stroll through Madison, Indiana, situated on the banks of the Ohio River, which Charles Kuralt called the most beautiful river town in America; and a quick glimpse of one somewhat trickly waterfall at Clifty Falls State Park.

Yesterday I had the pleasures of seeing my Honor Scholar student here at DePauw complete the draft of her lovely honors thesis on academic integrity and of participating via phone in the doctoral dissertation defense of a terrific grad student at CU, whose dissertation offers a theory of just immigration policy. I had a long walk with my friend Nicki and her little dog, Henry. And then supper last night? Why, a hot fudge sundae with black raspberry ice cream at Dairy Castle, of course.

So instead of pacing, a lovely April walk past daffodils and tulips in bloom. Instead of fretting, stimulating philosophical conversation about academic integrity and immigration. Instead of fingernail-gnawing, licking the last bit of hot fudge sauce off my spoon.  Sounds good to me.

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