• Hendrix College

    Steel Center Events

  • Visiting Altheimer Scholar – Dr. David Livingstone Smith, Author and Professor of Philosophy (University of New England)

    Altheimer Lecture – On Inhumanity: Dehumanization and How to Resist It

     Thursday, October 22nd at 7pm. We will be hosting this event via Zoom and livestreaming it to our Facebook page. To register in advance, please email steel@hendrix.edu.


    One evening, Rudolf Höss, the commander of the Auschwitz extermination camp, was sipping wine with his brother-in-law Fritz. Fritz asked him what the termsubhuman meant. “Look, you can see for yourself,” Höss, replied, “They are not like you and me. They are different. They look different. They do not behave like human beings.” The Holocaust, the enslavement and brutal lynching of Black Americans, and many other atrocities, were fueled by such dehumanizing beliefs. Drawing on ten years of research, and using real examples, Dr. Smith will explain how dehumanization works, focusing on its close connection to racism, its psychological dynamics, and what we need to do to resist and combat its toxic power. -Dr. David Livingston Smith

     Visit the FB event page https://www.facebook.com/events/344143183489537

    Dr. Smith will also be leading the Steel Center Wednesday Afternoon Discussion What, If Anything, Is Race? on October 21st at 4:10 pm. Visit https://www.hendrix.edu/steelcenter/wednesdayafternoon/ for more information. 

    David Livingstone Smith is Professor of Philosophy at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. He has written or edited nine books, including Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others (St. Martin's Press, 2011), which won the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf award for nonfiction and his latest book, On Inhumanity: Dehumanization and How to Resist It. His work has been translated into seven languages. David is an interdisciplinary scholar, whose publications are cited not only by other philosophers, but also by historians, legal scholars, psychologists, and anthropologists. He has been featured in several prime-time television documentaries, is often interviewed and cited in the national and international media, and was a guest at the 2012 G20 economic summit, where he spoke about dehumanization and mass violence.


    To the Hendrix Community, 

    Ellis Study Hall

    Beginning January 28th, the Steel Center will host a study hall period in Ellis Hall. Study Hall will take place on Tuesday evenings throughout the spring semester from 6 pm to 8 pm. A student attendant will be present at all times. Study Hall is open to any Hendrix student. 

    Previous Events This Year

    Philosophy Flicks 

    Inside Out

    Friday, March 6th, 2020

    @6pm in Ellis Hall

    Everyone is welcome! Popcorn and beverages will be provided!


    A Clockwork Orange

    Monday, March 30th, 2020

    @6pm in Ellis Hall

    Everyone is welcome! Popcorn and beverages will be provided!


    The Lorax

    Monday, April 6th, 2020

    @6pm in Ellis Hall

    Everyone is welcome! Popcorn and beverages will be provided!


    Let’s Talk About Beauty: Invitations and Aesthetic Discourse

    November 7th in Mills B

    Normative discourse, or talk of what we ‘ought to’ or ’should’ do, is often said to be distinctive in aiming at convergence. When we talk about what we ought to do, think, believe, or feel, the thought goes, we aim to get everyone on the same page and ‘converge’ in our beliefs, feelings, plans, etc. While this might be true of some normative domains, I argue that it is not true of the aesthetic. Like much moral discourse, typical aesthetic claims seem to express feelings or have prima facie imperatival force. But, as I argue, the conversational aims aesthetic discourse are distinctive. A symptom of this is the special type of speech act we typically perform in aesthetic discourse. Understanding the speech act requires understanding the force of aesthetic imperatives, and among the several options a few stand out: demand, request, recommendation, and invitation. To adjudicate between these options, I present an account of the normative character of aesthetic discourse and argue that the invitation reading fares best. On this view, typical aesthetic claims include invitations to appreciate. It turns out that the ‘end’ of aesthetic discourse is community, in a sense, not convergence, and so we should reject theories of aesthetic conversation that emphasize convergence.

    Led by Nick Riggle, Author and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at University of San Diego

    Ellis Hall Exhibit:

    The Anthropogenic Sublime 

    Hurricanes, floods, droughts, and tornadoes produce sublime experiences of nature being bigger than us, more powerful than us, and beyond our comprehension. But, once we acknowledge human-caused changes in the natural environment in the Anthropocene, how do we use art to express the sublimity of natural environments? Works in The Anthropogenic Sublime approach questions about the boundary between humans and nature, about activity and passivity, and about how we express and represent ourselves, our environments, and nature in an era of human caused changes to the natural environment.  


    OPENING – Friday, September 27th 5 -7 pm in Ellis Hall  This is a come and go event featuring the works of six artists with a guided walk through at 6 pm.



    The exhibit will be open in Ellis Hall from September 2019 – August 2020.

    Lecture and Brunch

    Thursday, September 19th, 2019

    Reading Group

    Led by Dr. James Dow

    Contact steel@hendrix.edu for your free copy of the book!

    *while supplies last*


  • Previous Events 2018-2019

     Wednesday Afternoon Discussion

    April 24th, 2019

    The Body of Empathy: Can Art Cultivate Empathy?

    “Hendrix College cultivates empathy” is the first clause of our statement of purpose. The Ellis art exhibit The Body of Empathy, curated by Dr. Dow and Dr. Lopas, asked the question of whether engaging with art can enable us to cultivate empathy. Dr. Dow will lead a discussion about the aesthetics of portrait paintings, discuss the artworks in the exhibition, and will argue that empathizing with personas and scenes in portrait paintings cultivates empathy in ways that differ from interacting with people and nature.

    Led by Dr. James Dow

    April 17th 7 pm in the Mills Center, Room B

    The Ethics of Portraiture

     Featuring Steel Center Guest – Dr. Anne Eaton, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Affiliate to Art History and Gender Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago

     Portraits can provoke the highest levels of moral outrage that the artworld has seen. Consider, for instance, Marcus Harvey’s Myra, which was widely and vociferously decried in the UK in the mid 1990’s. Can such outrage be justified? If so, what makes a  portrait the proper object of moral judgment? If not, what sort of mistake, exactly, are the morally outraged making? In this paper I consider a variety of features of portraits that at least appear to make them proper candidates for moral evaluation: (1) moral attributes of the artist, (2) the moral valence of the processes of making the portrait, (3) and the portrait’s effects in the world. After finding each wanting to some degree, I offer an alternative understanding of what makes a portrait the proper target of moral judgment and consider some examples.

    This is a free event, open to everyone.

    A reception will follow the lecture in the Mills Center Library.


    Philosophy Flicks 

    Being John Malkovich

    Thursday, January 24th, 2019 

    @7pm in Mills A

    Everyone is Welcome! Popcorn and beverages will be provided!

    Steel Center Art Opening "The Body of Empathy" 

    September 19th, 2018 from 4pm-8pm

    Please join us in Ellis Hall for an art opening for The Body of Empathy on September 19th from 4pm-8pm with a descriptive walk through the exhibit at 6pm. The Body of Empathy is an internationally juried show of environmental portrait paintings by six different artist: Donna Festa, Karen Fleming, Nina Jordan, Eva O'Donovan, Emily McIlroy, and Niamh McGuinne. The yearlong show is jointly curated by Professor Mathew Lopas and Dr. James Dow. The theme of The Body of Empathy is whether we can empathize with characters or persons in paintings. Can looking at the human body in a painting be a type of ethical witnessing of the life of a person? How does engagement with paintings cultivate empathy differently than perspective taking with people?

    Donna Festa

    Green Sweater, 2013

    Oil on Panel 

    4in x 4.5in

    Donna Festa

    Man with Gray Shirt, 2012

    Oil on Panel 

    6in x 6in

    Donna Festa

    Happy Birthday Evie Smith, 2012

    Oil on Panel 

    6in x 6in

    Donna Festa

    Woman with Thinning Hair, 2012

    Oil on Panel 

    6in x 6in

    Donna Festa

    Thoughts, 2013

    Oil on Panel 

    4in x 4in

    Eva O'Donovan 

    Emma, 2018

    Oil on Printed Fabric

    35in x 45in

    Niamh McGuinne

    Wilgefortis, 2018

    Thermal Transfer Screen Print and Encaustic on Aluminum 

    42cm x 35cm

    Emily McIlroy 

    Memory: Autopsy, 2014

    Oil and Black Pastel on Paper

    52in x 33in

    Karen Fleming

    Burden, 2018

    Oil on Board

    61cm x 61cm

    Nina Jordan

    1131 LaSalle St., 2015

    Oil on Canvas

    48in x 60in

    Previous Events 2017-2018

    Wu-wei as Transformative Experience 

    November 8th, 2018 from 7pm-8pm

    Dr. Julianne Chung

    This presentation explores the possibility that the philosophical and religious ideal of wu-wei (variously translatable into English as, e.g., "no-trying", "no-doing", "non-action", or "effortless action" (cf. Slingerland 2003 and 2005)) can-at least it is presented in the Zhuangzi-be fruitfully interpreted as a transformative experience. It begins by describing in more detail what wu-wei is before explaining why it can be understood as a transformative experience for Zhuangzi. The overall project, however, is ultimately one that involves multidimensional multicultural exchange, rather than, say, one that aims simply to re-interpret early Chinese philosophical ideas using tools furnished by contemporary Anglo-Zhuangist wu-wei as a transformative experience stands to enrich Anglo-analytic philosophy's understanding of the notion of transformative experience.



    "A Sand County Almanac with Essays on Conservation from Round River"

    The Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy will hold a reading group on Aldo Leopold's " A Sand County Almanac" and other readings meeting mostly biweekly on Wednesdays starting September 26th from 4:10pm to 5:10pm and Nature walks in local natural areas every third week on Saturday afternoons starting October 6th with Dr. James Dow and Dr. Maureen McClung. The focus of discussions will be Leopold's account of environmental value.

    Please join us as we recognize the release of Dr. Robert Williamson's new book!

    Ellis Hall Open House


    Come visit and tour Ellis Hall. Recently renovated and new home to Religious Studies, Philosophy and The Marshall T. Steel Center. 

    Refreshments will be provided.

    Thursday, April 19th

    7pm in Mills B

    Praising and Loving the Unjust: the Problem of Socratic Patrotism 

    with Dr. Emily Austin- Hendrix '00 

    Reception to follow in the Mills Library 

    Friday, April 20th

    3:30pm to 4:30pm in the RaPC

    Steel Center: Friday Afternoon Discussion 

    The Steel Center & The Raney Building: How They Shaped My Life

    with Dr. Amanda Baugh '04, Dr. Emily Austin '00 and Dr. Jay McDaniel

    Saturday, April 21st

    10:30am DW Reynolds, Room 10

    Book Talk with Dr. Amanda Baugh '04 & Dr. Whitney Bauman '98

    Facilitated by Dr. Fred Ablondi & Dr. Jay McDaniel 

    Book signing to follow


    at 2pm on the Ellis Hall Lawn

    Join us for an afternoon of Traditions, Memories, History and the future of the Steel Center by Dr. Jay McDaniel. Recognition of Dr. McDaniel and dedication by Dr. Stella Capek & Dr. Bill Gorvine. Announcement of the Steel Center Director and the new Steel Center home. This is a come and go event & refreshments will be provided.

    (In case of rain, we will gather in the Mills Lobby)

    Hendrix College Altheimer Lecture & Events

    Join us on Tuesday, April 17th at Hendrix College for two special events featuring guest speaker-

    Anat Hoffman, Israeli Activist and Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center.

    Co-sponsored by: The Marshall T. Steel Center and the B’nai Israel Temple

    Presenters from South Central Seminar 

    in Early Modern Philosophy

    To view more photos from the conference visit the hendrix flicker account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hendrixcollege/albums/72157688072553252/with/38822930252/

    Saturday, March 3rd in the RaPC from 9AM-12PM

    Interfaith Workshop

    While most interfaith resources are concentrated in urban areas, the need to cultivate hospitality toward other religions exists in rural areas as well. During this workshop, we will explore the characteristics of “an interfaith mindset,” learn about existing interfaith initiatives in rural Arkansas, and brainstorm new ways to cultivate interfaith understanding in areas where religious diversity is not readily apparent. All are welcome.

    The workshop is sponsored by the Greater Arkansas Interfaith Network, with assistance from the Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy, and facilitated by Dr. Jay McDaniel and the Rev. Teri Daily.

    Saturday, February 24th at Hendrix Campus

    Regional Interfaith Conference – “Interfaith Community and the Future of American Democracy”

    With the support of Interfaith Youth Core, Hendrix College will host a one-day regional student interfaith training focused on the potential of interfaith collaboration to transform the American political landscape. The morning keynote will feature Miroslav Volf of Yale Divinity School, who will focus on the value of building interfaith relationships. The afternoon will feature a workshop on building interfaith community and shaping that community for political advocacy, led by the Arkansas Public Policy Panel. Students will have the opportunity to meet and build relationships with students from other campuses. Participating schools include: Hendrix CollegeLyon CollegeUniversity of Central ArkansasUniversity of the Ozarks and Rhodes College.

    Tuesday, September 19th                 

    7pm in the Mills Center, Room A

    Faith in Black and White: The Church and Race in ‘Colorblind’ America – The Bible in Black and White

    Featuring – Guest Speaker, Dr. Nyasha Junior – author and Biblical Scholar. This is a public speaker event to explore the systems of racial injustice in contemporary American culture and the role of the Church in creating a more racially just society. The event is free and open to the public. A reception and book signing will follow in the Mills Center Library.

    Pictures of the event can be seen here.

    Wednesday Afternoon Discussion

    September 20th, 3:30pm to 4:30pm in the RaPC

    No Crystal Stair: Becoming a Black Woman Biblical Scholar

    Guest speaker – Dr. Nyasha Junior, author and Biblical Scholar. Dr. Junior will discuss her intellectual journey and the challenges along the way. Open to the public. Tea and coffee will be provided.

    Pictures of the event can be seen here.

    Thursday, September 21st                                                                       

    8 to 9 pm in the Brick Pit

    Peace Vigil and Dedication an Arkansas Peace Week Event

    Guest speakers include: Sophia Said, Director and Interfaith Leader of the Madina Institute of Little Rock. Reverend and Dr. Denise Donnell, Director of Just Communities of Arkansas. Tyler Pearson, of Compassion Works for All. Event includes a candlelight vigil and signing of the peace manifesto. This event is open to the public.

    Thursday November 16th

    7 pm in Mills B

    Death: A History

    Guest speaker – Dr. Gideon Manning, Scholar of Philosophy


    “This talk will explore some of the myriad ways in which death is more than a biological event, for it is a historical event in the fullest sense, affecting art, literature, economics, government organization, and cultural and social practices. This is easiest to see when death occurs on a massive scale, as in epidemics, like the Black Death, or in times of war, like the U. S. Civil War. By focusing on these events and the broader history of death, this talk will identify some of the changes that have occurred in how death is experienced, represented, and has been conceived in Western culture. Questions that will be relevant to the subjects discussed include: What is the ideal death? How does a good death relate to a good life? How should we plan for death? What role do physicians have at the end of life? How should we mourn? Is death to be feared? Is immortality desirable? References will be made to the history of medicine, ancient and contemporary philosophy, the Old and New Testament, sociology, history of economics, and literature.” – Dr. Manning


    The talk will be followed with an opportunity to meet and visit with Dr. Manning in the Mills lobby. Coffee will be served. This event is free and open to the public.

    Friday through Saturday, November 17th – 18th


    The eighteenth annual meeting of the South Central Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy will be held Friday-Saturday, November 17-18, 2017 at Hendrix College (Murphy Building – Seminar room), in Conway, Arkansas.  As with other Seminars in Early Modern Philosophy held throughout North America and Europe every year, the papers presented here cover subjects in philosophy from (roughly) the period Montaigne to Kant.  For program times and schedule, please visit:




    Attendance is free and all are welcome, though those planning to attend are asked to make your reservation to Tammy Vanaman (vanamant@hendrix.edu) by November 1.

    PHILOSOPHY FLICKS- A series of film screenings and discussions that will occur once monthly.

    Thursday, February 8th 7pm in Mills C

    No Philosophy association is necessary and everyone is welcome. Popcorn and drinks will be provided! You are welcome to participate in a brief discussion after the film (but it’s not required). 


    Thursday, October 26th 7pm in Mills C

    September 14th at 7 pm in Mills C

    Previous Events 2015-2016

    Steel Center Film Screening & Friday Afternoon Discussion

    A film screening of "If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" will be held in the RaPC at 4 pm on Thursday, December 1st. A Friday Afternoon Discussion will follow on Friday, Dec. 2nd from 3:30 to 4:30 in the RaPC. The discussion will cover whether or not environmental disobedience is ever justified and will be presented by the Philosophy Dept. seniors and facilitated by Dr. James Dow. The film screening and discussion are open to everyone.  

    Dare to imagine

    “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.  On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”  So writes Arundhati Roy, Indian novelist and author of The God of Small Things.  Another world becomes possible through acts of social imagination. 

    From October 10-18, 2015, people throughout the United States, influenced by hopes for the common good of the world, are creating Imagination Stations in public spaces nationwide.  One of them will be on the brick patio at Hendrix on October 12-14.  It is sponsored by the Hendrix Murphy Foundation, The Steel Center for the Study of Religion and Philosophy, Fat Soul International, and the “Art and Spirit” course of The Engaged Citizen initiative.  With chalk provided by the Hendrix Murphy Foundation, members of the Hendrix community (students, staff, and faculty) can write their own haiku and short poems, or draw images if they prefer, envisioning the world they wish to inhabit and—looking back from the future—celebrating the work  that helped bring it into existence. The entire process will be videotaped through time-lapse photography. The resulting texts, images, videos, and more will be uploaded to an online platform, yielding a crowd-sourced vision of the future, inspiring art, policy, and community action.

    31st Annual Steel – Hendrix Awards Banquet

    Thursday, March 10, 2016

    Banquet and Awards at 5:30 p.m. 
    Worsham Performance Hall

    Please join us to celebrate these individuals who have made significant contributions in the areas of religious education, social awareness, and youth service.

    • Anthony Falkowski  – The Ethel K. Millar Award for Religion and Social Awareness
    • DrBrooks Holifield – The Mary and Ira A. Brumley Award for Religion Education
    • Lori Fallon  – The Hendrix College Youth Director of the Year

    (Tickets are $20 until February 19 $25 after that date w/ deadline of March 4, contact  mulhearn@hendrix.edu  or call 501-450-1263)

    Followed By: Wilson Lecture at 7 P.M.

    Hope in a Time of Climate Change: A Dialogue Between the Bible and Science

    Presented by:  Dr. Carol Newsom of Emory University

    Charles Howard Candler Professor of Old Testament and Past President of the Society of Biblical Literature 

    Carol Newsom

    Religious language: How “different” is it from everyday language and why?

    Thursday, April 7, 2016 


    7pm Mills B followed by a reception in the Mills Library

    Presented by guest speaker Dr. Eve Sweetser Professor of Linguistics, University of California – Berkeley

    It is rather a standing trope of the discourse about religious language that it is special.  This is often said to be due to the ineffable nature of religious experience, simply beyond the capacity of language to express.  And yet – we keep on using language to express it.  Indeed, we keep on using the same kinds of language (many of the same metaphors, for example) which are part of our everyday grammatical repertory.  This talk will explore some of these structures, and discuss some of the reasons why this should be so. 

    *The event is free and open to the public.

    Campus Map 

    Farewell to the Raney Building 

    Saturday, April 16, 2016

    Reception 11 a.m. to noon 
    Raney building lobby

    We will bid farewell to Mary Richardson, Instructor of Speech at Hendrix since 1979; Stephen Kerr ’76, Virginia A. McCormick Pittman Distinguished Professor of Economics and Business, who has taught at Hendrix since 1979; and to the Raney building itself that will make way for the future Dawkins Welcome Center. If you cannot join us, please send your warm wishes to Mary and Stephen in care of the Office of Alumni and Constituent Engagement and we will deliver them.

    Farewell Raney 

    “Tibetan Sang Chö (Incense Offering) Ritual”

    Tuesday, April 26, 2016

    Presented by Geshe Shenpen Samdrup and Dr. Gorvine


    This traditional smoke or incense offering ceremony traces its roots to the indigenous Bön tradition of Tibet, which preceded the arrival of Buddhism in Tibet. It uses a variety of fragrant plants (such as juniper/cedar, sage, and other aromatics) as offerings to sanctify a given space and to restore one’s relationship with the physical and spiritual environment, purifying impurities and pollution in the process. This popular ritual as currently performed by laity and monastics integrates the practical, life-affirming concerns of Tibetans with the wisdom-teachings and compassionate-activities of enlightened beings (or Buddhas). It is believed that by participating in the offering, one may enhance one’s health, vitality and wellness, wish the same for others, and enjoy integrating with a broader, sacred world. Doing so may also help with final exams and projects! This particular performance will be conducted by Geshé Shenphen Samdrup, a Tibetan monk, scholar and spiritual teacher from Menri monastery in northern India, and all are welcome to join in! 

    “Calming the Mind, Engaging the Heart: A Guided Meditation in the Tibetan Tradition” 

    Thursday April 28, 2016


    Mills Library at 4:10 p.m.
    Presented by  Geshe Shenpen Samdrup and Dr. Gorvine 

    Come meet Geshé Shenpen Samdup, a monk, scholar, and spiritual teacher in the Tibetan Bön religious lineage who was born in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan and comes to us from Menri monastery in northern India. Drawing from his many years of study and practice, along with his experience working with students from around the world, Geshé Samdup will share insights and invite participants to get an experiential appreciation for how Tibetan practitioners understand and undertake meditation practice, and how these approaches might be of value to a variety of interested people.   

    Falls Corbitt

    Dr. Peg Falls-Corbitt Philosophy Professor to Receive Distinguished Professorship

    September 1st, 11:10 a.m.

    Hendrix College will formally install Dr. Peg Falls-Corbitt as the Virginia A. McCormick Pittman Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at a special ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 1, at 11:10 a.m., in Reves Recital Hall in the Trieschmann Fine Arts Building. Guests from the community are welcome to attend.

    Read More

    “Chanting, Contemplation and Inspiration: An Experiential Journey with the Nechung Oracle, Advisor to the Dalai Lama”

    Saturday, Oct. 22, at 10 a.m.

    Reves Recital Hall in Trieschmann Fine Arts Building

    The event will feature a presentation by the State Oracle of Tibet, the Venerable Thubten Ngodup, who will be accompanied by Lama Tenzin Choegyal and seven monks from Nechung Monastery. 
    In this special event, Lama Tenzin Choegyal will offer a brief introduction to guests and to the chants they will offer, and he will facilitate an introduction by the Venerable Thubten Ngodup (Kunten-la) to Tibetan contemplative practice. 
    Following this, attendees are invited to participate in a wide-ranging question and answer session. 

    The program is co-sponsored by the Marshall T. Steel Center, the Interdisciplinary Program in Asian Studies, and the Miller Center for Vocation, Ethics, and Calling. 

    For more information, contact Hendrix religious studies professor Dr. Bill Gorvine at  gorvine@hendrix.edu or 501-450-3820.

    Epistemic Injustice and the Child Presented by Dr. Deborah Tollefsen

    November 10, 2016

    Mills B at 7pm Followed by Reception in Mills Library

    In Epistemic Injustice (2007) Miranda Fricker argues that there is a distinct type of harm done to those who are discredited due to prejudicial stereotypes. This harm is distinctively epistemic in nature as it prevents a person from participating in the knowledge production practices of a community and deprives a subject of full epistemic status. The examples that Fricker focuses on are those involving race and gender. The woman who is given less credibility in the boardroom when she speaks, for instance, because of prejudicial stereotypes about women, suffers not just a moral injustice, but an epistemic one. Dialogue with others—dialogue across difference—is possible only if we acknowledge the phenomenon of epistemic injustice and work to ameliorate it. In this talk, I raise the question of whether children, as a class, are subject to epistemic injustice. I argue that they are and that this is not only detrimental to the child but to the adult's ability to understand and gain knowledge of the world.

    - Dr. Deborah Tollefsen

    This event will include a Q&A time at the end of Dr. Tollefsen's talk. A reception in the Mills Library will follow. This event is open to the public. 

    Dr. Tollefsen will also lead the  Steel Center's Friday Afternoon Discussion - Shaping the Group Mind - Friday November 11 at 3:30 in the Religion and Philosophy Commons (RaPC)