Steel Center

Steel Center Lectures and Special Events

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:

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 ( 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  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 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)