Department of Philosophy

Navigation + Search
Home / Beamer-Schneider Professorship / Beamer-Schneider Lecture in Ethics and Civics

Beamer-Schneider Lecture in Ethics and Civics

there is a crack in everything
that’s how the light gets in*

–from Anthem by Leonard Cohen

Beamer-Schneider Lecture

As part of its commitment to develop the ethos of Case Western Reserve University and its relationship to its larger community, the Beamer-Schneider Professorship will present from time to time an event by public intellectuals, ethicists, or thinkers of politics on a matter concerning the intersection of ethics and civics. The idea is to advance our thinking in these domains and to invite us to deal with a difficult area of our lives philosophically.

Protesting highschoolers in Rouen, France, April 1989

Protesting highschoolers in Rouen, France, April 1989

The inaugural lecture was given in April of 2011 by Simon Critchley of the New School University in New York City. His lecture was called “The Powerless Power of the Call of Conscience” and ranged between anarchic politics, social conscience, and the capacity of schools to problematize authority. His workshop, given the day before, was on Apollinaire’s great poem “Zone” and examined the intersection of the personal and the political in Apollinaire’s apparent autobiography of a despondent city-dweller of Paris in the first decades of the 20th century. Professor Critchley also worked with the SAGES class vocation & Life which had read his 2006 book Infinitely Demanding.

Beamer-Schneider Lecture

Susan Neiman, director of the Einstein Forum in Berlin, gave the second biennial Beamer-Schneider Lecture in Ethics and Civics in April, 2013. Her lecture, “Learning from the Germans: Tarantino, Spielberg, and American Crimes,” examined how 60 years of German attempts to deal with its Nazi past produced a template for confronting national evils. In American culture, such confrontations are rare. Neiman reflected on how Americans can begin to think about forging an identity in the face of our own torturous past. Her workshop the following day was on her novel, Time Heals, tracing the lives of nine people – including writers and barkeepers, bureaucrats and punks, Germans and Jews – as they were affected by the consequences of World War II in postwar Berlin. Neiman also participated in an upper level ethics seminar on Kant and the banality of evil which had read her Evil in Modern Thought.

The third lecture took place in April 2015 and became a socially engaged art project with Michael Rakowitz.  Chicago Tribune’s Christopher Borrelli described Rakowitz as one of the most influential conceptual artists of the moment, a “deeply politically minded soul whose work, posed between agitprop and performance, has accomplished the remarkable: He has figured out a way to make conceptual art less…Conceptual. And more accessible.”   Rakowitz built off the Ethics Table’s 2014-2015 discussions of police brutality to develop a project on the right to safety beginning with the missing orange cap from Tamir Rice’s toy gun.  The project involved SPACES, Zygote Press, Guide to Kulchur, and the Social Justice Institute. Rumor has it that the Rakowitz project will go live in the 2018 Cleveland Triennial.


Stay tuned for the next Beamer-Schneider Lecture!  We have scheduled it for October 12th and 13th, 2017.  Kyle Powys Whyte will join us.  We will imagine what it would be to “decolonize” Cleveland.  The event, called Decolonizing Cleveland, will have four parts:  a community welcome breakfast on October 12th, a lunch on indigenous knowledge practices for scientists on the same day, a community charrette on the evening of the 12th in which we imagine decolonizing Cleveland co-sponsored by the Social Justice Institute, and a public talk during common hour on the 13th, wherein Kyle discusses the criteria of decolonization and strategies from Standing Rock to other indigenous social movements.  We want to thank everyone who has graciously agreed to take part so far or who has expressed interest.  If you would like to remain informed of the events, please email

Page last modified: July 10, 2017