In the "Ethical Inquiry" series, we examine ethical questions, highlighting a broad array of opinion from journalism, academia, and advocacy organizations. Our intent is to illuminate and explore the complexity of some of the most vexing ethical questions of our time.

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Ethical Inquiry: December 2018

Recommended Books From the Year

For the December installment of "Ethical Inquiry" we are taking the opportunity to recommend some books published in the last year on topics related to the work of the Ethics Center and by people affiliated with the Center, as well as a few selections not as closely tied to our work that have impressed members of our staff.
(See our recommendations from 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 20152016 and 2017!)

The following are selections from works published in 2018:

by Ethics Center Staff

Handbook on Promoting Peace Through Practice, Academia and the Arts

“Understanding an Enemy is Like Understanding a Poem: Art and Peace in Theory and Practice” by Cynthia Cohen in Handbook of Research on Promoting Peace Through Practice, Academia, and the Arts by Mohamed Walid Lufty and Cris Toffolo

This chapter by the Director of Peacebuilding and the Arts Cynthia Cohen offers five brief examples of arts-informed peacebuilding in different parts of the world, incorporating different art forms and addressing different issues. The chapter’s title is based on the concept of trans-subjectivity, understanding self and other through each other, the ethical and epistemological interdependence that characterizes experiences of coming to know both enemies and poems. []

Let's Make a Better World

Let's Make a Better World: Stories and Songs by Jane Wilburn Sapp by Jane Wilburn Sapp with Cynthia Cohen

Let’s Make a Better World: Stories and Songs by Jane Sapp, by nationally admired cultural worker, musician, educator, and activist Jane Wilburn Sapp, a longtime Ethics Center collaborator, with Cynthia Cohen, is part memoir, part songbook. Let’s Make a Better World is an inspiration and an affirmation for cultural workers, activists, artists, and justice-seekers. Sapp shares her personal journey, and the songs she has written with young people and has sung with people of all ages. She tells the stories behind each song and offers suggestions for teachers and chorus leaders. The book was designed by Wen-ti Tsen. An accompanying podcast series features Sapp, Cohen and others.    []

Oxford Research Encycopedia - Education coverArts and Peacebuilding in The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education by Mary Ann Hunter and Cynthia Cohen

An article on arts and peacebuilding by Mary Ann Hunter, a longtime affiliate of the Center's Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts, and Cynthia Cohen is included in The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. []

The Trials of Richard Goldstone by Daniel Terris

In The Trials of Richard Goldstone, Director Emeritus of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life Daniel Terris, tells the story of this extraordinary individual and the price he paid for his convictions. Richard Goldstone is a member and former chair of the Ethics Center International Advisory Board. It describes how Goldstone, working as a judge in apartheid South Africa, helped to undermine this unjust system and later, at Nelson Mandela’s request, led a commission that investigated cases of racial violence and intimidation. It also considers the international renown he received as the chief United Nations prosecutor for war crimes committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the first tribunals to try political and military leaders on charges of genocide. Finally, it explores how Goldstone became a controversial figure in the wake of the Jewish jurist’s powerful, but flawed, investigation of Israel for alleged war crimes in Gaza. Read a BrandeisNOW interview with Daniel Terris about the book here. There will be a reading, discussion and reception featuring Richard Goldstone and Daniel Terris on Monday, March 18th. Read more about the upcoming event here. []

by Ethics Center Affiliates

A Neighborhood Politics of Last Resort by Stephen Danley

Stephen Danley, ENACT Faculty Fellow at Rutgers-Camden University, explores the steep rise in neighborhood associations in post-Katrina New Orleans which is commonly presented in starkly positive or negative terms – either romanticized narratives of community influence or dismissals of false consciousness and powerlessness to elite interests. Considering the plight of grassroots activism in the context of national and global urban challenges, A Neighborhood Politics of Last Resort immerses the reader in the daily minutiae of post-Katrina life to reveal how multiple groups responded to the same crisis with inconsistent and often ad-hoc approaches, visions, and results. []

The Politics of Millennials: Political Beliefs and Policy Preferences of America's Most Diverse Generation

The Politics of Millennials: Political Beliefs and Policy Preferences of America's Most Diverse Generation by Stella Rouse 

Stella Rouse, ENACT Faculty Fellow at the University of Maryland, explores the factors that shape the millennial generation's unique political identity, how this identity conditions political choices, and how a cohort's diversity informs political attitudes and beliefs. This book explores politics from a generational perspective, first, and then combines this with other group identities that include race and ethnicity to bring a new perspective to how we examine identity politics. []

Black Politics in Transition: Immigration, Suburbanization, and Gentrification

Black Politics in Transition: Immigration, Suburbanization, and Gentrification by Candis Watts Smith

In Black Politics in Transition by Candis Watts Smith, ENACT Faculty Fellow at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, considers the impact of three transformative forces ― immigration, suburbanization, and gentrification ― on Black politics today. Some of the most important developments in Black politics are happening at state and local levels today, and this book captures that for students, scholars, and citizens engaged in this dynamic milieu. []

Handbook on Promoting Peace Through Practice, Academia and the Arts

“Indigenous Ceremonial Peacemaking: The Restoration of Balance and Harmony” by Polly Walker in Handbook of Research on Promoting Peace Through Practice, Academia, and the Arts by Mohamed Walid Lufty and Cris Toffolo

In Indigenous Ceremonial Peacemaking: The Restoration of Balance and Harmony, Polly Walker explores indigenous conceptualizations of peace, focusing on some Native American, First Nations, Native Hawaiian, and Australian Aboriginal approaches, with an emphasis on peacemaking ceremonies. The author articulates some of the central tenets of Indigenous paradigms and explains how these shape historical and contemporary peacemaking, both among Indigenous peoples and between Indigenous and Western peoples. Polly Walker, longtime affiliate of the Ethics Center, is an Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College. []

by Ethics Center Board Members

Eternal Sonata

Eternal Sonata by Jamie Metzel

In 2025 America, it's hardly news when a renowned octogenarian scientist dying of cancer disappears from a local hospice, but when Kansas City Star reporter Rich Azadian begins to dig, he discovers that other elderly scientists around the world have also vanished recently - all terminally ill and receiving the same experimental treatment from a global health company. His investigation leads him to the reclusive Noam Heller, a brilliant researcher exploring new technologies to reverse-age cancer and other cells. Using revolutionary stem cell treatments and snippets of DNA from rare, immortal Arctic jellyfish, his breakthrough promises the genetic equivalent of the fountain of youth. First published in 2016, the paperback edition was released in 2018. []

Related to International Justice and Human Rights

Of Love & War

Of Love & War by Lynsey Addario 

In this compelling collection of more than two hundred photographs, Lynsey Addario’s commitment to exposing the devastating consequences of human conflict is on full display. Her subjects include the lives of female members of the military, as well as the trauma and abuse inflicted on women in male-dominated societies; American soldiers rescuing comrades in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan, and Libyan opposition troops trading fire in Benghazi. []

from Brandeis University Press

Black Power Jewish Politics

Black Power Jewish Politics: Reinventing the Alliance in the 1960s by Marc Dollinger

Marc Dollinger shows how, in a period best known for the rise of black anti-Semitism and the breakdown of the black-Jewish alliance, black nationalists enabled Jewish activists to devise a new Judeo-centered political agenda—including the emancipation of Soviet Jews, the rise of Jewish day schools, the revitalization of worship services with gender-inclusive liturgy, and the birth of a new form of American Zionism. []

Extra Hidden Life, among the Days

Extra Hidden Life, among the Days by Brenda Hillman

Brenda Hillman begins her new book in a place of mourning and listening that is deeply transformative. This is poetry as a discipline of love and service to the world, whose lines shepherd us through grief and into an ethics of active resistance. []

Suggestions for other selections from 2018 that we missed in our list?  Let us know.

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