Department of Philosophy

The Ethics Table

Ethics Table 1

The Ethics Table is a key initiative of the Beamer-Schneider Professorship in Ethics. It is a metaphor that has many institutional forms. Since spring semester 2013, it has taken three. In all these forms, “ethics” is meant broadly in the original sense as ethos, a way of life, and so includes politics as well as more private matters.

Brown bag lunches

Schedule and Dates
Location: The Cleveland Room Thwing Center

  • September 2nd: Welcome!
  • September 16th:  Group planning
  • September 30th:  Refuge
  • October 14th: Creating capabilities
  • October 28th:  Planning & wisdom
  • November 11th: A global constitutional convention to protect the rights of future generations
  • January 20th:
  • February 17th:
  • March 16th:
  • April 13th:

The main Ethics Table expression is a periodic brown-bag lunch open to any member of the campus community, students especially, and to members of the wider community outside the campus if they so desire. The lunches are BYO (bring your own) food, with coffee and some dessert provided. Here are some tips and comfortable ground rules for the ethics discussion. The lunches meet at 11:30 AM in The Cleveland Room in Thwing Center. Please keep an eye out for announcements in the Daily.

The lunches are meant primarily to encourage free-form discussion of ethical issues relevant or of interest to campus members of any kind (students, faculty, staff, administration, …). They are meant to widen our community ethos and enrich our reflective and critical understanding of our university as an environment for ethical learning.

To be put on a contact list for these lunches or if you have topics you would like to see discussed, please email

Ethics Table Fellows

The Ethics Table Fellows is a group of students, staff, and faculty selected from an application process that focuses on a project to improve the ethical learning environment of Case Western Reserve University. The fellowship is biennial.

Across the year, the fellows meet monthly, reading and discussing ethical theory, working on individual projects, and preparing for an open symposium at the school year’s end. Fellows are given some research money and a stipend or other appropriate form of compensation at year’s end for their work. If you are interested in applying to be a fellow, please contact:

Ethics Table Fellows, 2015-2016

Ethics Table Fellows, 2013-2014

The Moral Inquiries ~ a Heights gathering

The third form the Ethics Table has taken is a spin-off group that meets in the historic Coventry neighborhood of Cleveland Heights at Mac’s Back’s Books, the much-loved independent bookstore that adjoins Tommy’s.  Called “The Moral Inquiries ~ a Heights gathering,”  this community group discusses moral issues and is co-organized with members of the community.  For more information, please see its website.  You can join the hosting platform easily if you want to sign up for it.

The first Ethics Table

In the mid-1990s, Bob Lawry from the School of Law convened a summer ethics institute that allowed Case Western Reserve University faculty to explore incorporating ethics into their classes. In 2011-12, supported by the Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust, the Beamer-Schneider Professorship renewed the institute in a different, evolving form–and opened the Table to staff, administration and to graduate students who in direct ways through their programs foster the ethical learning environment of Case Western Reserve University.


In its new form, the Ethics Table’s first pulse was during the year 2011-2012. The group met daily for a week in August 2011 to explore the idea of a university ethos. Readings included D.H. Winnicott’s Playing and Reality; Dan Scheinfeld’s et al., We Are All Explorers: Learning and Teaching with Reggio Principles in Urban Settings; Martha Nussbaum’s Creating Capabilities; Alice Munro’s Runaway, and the Share the Vision common reading for the year, Justice by Michael Sandel.

Ethics Table

The group then met monthly around town — to get out of school, gain perspective and to support local businesses. We ate at the Squirevue Vallee Farm with Spice of Life farm to table catering, at Le Petit Triangle in Ohio City, Club Isabella in University Circle, Prosperity Social Club in Tremont, the Alumni House where we skyped in philosophical counselor Lauren Tillinghast, Empress Taytu in East Cleveland, Café Anatolia in Cleveland Heights, and at the Greenhouse Tavern downtown.

At each of these meetings, two members of the group presented on ethics from their perspective in the university, and a special guest gave a presentation. The special guests this year were Anthony Jack (Cognitive Science), Shannon French (The Inamori Center), Chin-Tai Kim (Philosophy), Laura Hengehold (Philosophy), Lauren Tillinghast (NYU extension branch and private practice), Rhonda Williams (Social Justice Institute), Piers Turner (Ohio State University, Ethics Center), and Dean Moyar (Johns Hopkins University, Philosophy).

Finally, the group convened for a two day retreat in May 2012, with The Montessori School of Cleveland and Roger Saillant (Fowler Center) as special guests at the Inamori Center and at the Manor House of Squirevue Vallee Farm. The group reflected on its future and on the prospect of future developing our university’s ethos. Members of the group also chose to read Simon Blackburn’s Being Good, which was given to all members of the group for their reference.

Ethics Table participants

Members of the Ethics Table 2011-2012

  • Elizabeth Banks, Director, Center for Civic Engagement and Learning
  • Nicole Deming, Assistant Professor of Bioethics, Director of Medical Education, Co-Director, Bioethics Master’s Program
  • Sarah Gridley, Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing
  • Mary Holmes, SAGES instructor and local foods entrepreneur
  • Megan Jewell, Director, The University Writing Center
  • Kenneth Johnson, Graduate student, Affiliate of the Inamori Center
  • Kathryn Mercer, Professor of Legal Writing, the Law School
  • Mark Pedretti, Lecturer, the Department of English
  • Adam Perzynski, SAGES instructor and medical sociologist at MetroHealth
  • Rolfe Petschek, Professor of Physics
  • Drew Poppleton, Assistant Director for Experiential Learning, the Career Center
  • Suzanne Rivera, Associate Vice President for Research and the Department of Bioethics
  • Rachel Sternberg, Associate Professor of Classics
  • Tracy Wilson-Holden, Director of Research Education
  • Jeffery Wolkowitz, Dean of Undergraduate Studies
  • Peter Yang, Associate Professor of German

Ethics Table