Burma’s Hard-Line Buddhists Are Waging a Campaign of Hate That Nobody Can Stop | TIME

Dr. Jerryson was recently interviewed by Time magazine about Buddhist extremists in Burma:

Michael Jerryson, an expert on religion and violence at Youngstown State University in the U.S., says that part of the success of these movements is their ability to use Islamophobia to tap into dormant communal hostilities. Says Jerryson: “There is no religion that is inherently violent or nonviolent. In this way, these recent conflicts are a reminder that Buddhists struggle with the same social problems as people from other religions.” He adds that the dominant Western view of Buddhist monks as transcendental creatures — forever pondering on the oneness of all things — is wrong, for the act of becoming a monk “does not wash away the person’s internal struggles or behavioral patterns.”

You can read the entire article on Time’s website:

Burma’s Hard-Line Buddhists Are Waging a Campaign of Hate That Nobody Can Stop | TIME

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Dr. Mir’s Statement on the Smithsonian Website

Dr Mir was recently asked to participate in the Human Origins Initiative at the Smithsonian Institution. Scholars from across the country were asked “What does it Mean to be Human?” from the perspective of their respective disciplines.

“What Does It Mean to be Human?” Statement on Islam and Science at the Smithsonian website

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Moral Psychology and Education

Our own Dr. Deborah Mower recently secured a grant to hold an NEH Summer Institute for college and university professors. The institute will take place at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, and will deal with the moral psychology behind effective moral education.

Moral Psychology and Education: Putting the Humanities to Work

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In Defense of the Liberal Arts

[The following is a letter received by our department by a former graduate and current Harvard Divinity School student. He has agreed to allow us to post his letter here.]

My name is Cary Dabney. I am currently a graduate student at Harvard University’s Divinity School. I am also an alumnus of Youngstown State University, class of 2013.  I want to thank you in advance for taking time out of your busy schedule to read this correspondence. I promise this message will be brief, but it is a message I feel needs to be shared in light of the changing academic environment at my beloved Alma matter.

On October 18, 2015, I was instructed to turn in an excerpt from my master thesis to be completed and defended before a board next spring. This excerpt is generally an opportunity for the professor who has been assigned as your director to offer criticism and suggest appropriate modifications to your approach and overall theory. After reading my excerpt, this Harvard professor of over thirty years made the following comment, “It’s rare that I find myself without critical comment on a paper, but such is the case here… this paper is final draft quality, with nothing more needing to be done as far as I’m concerned. I have never read or experienced a student so adequately prepared for this area of work…you are one of the most promising students of medieval philosophy and moral theology I have ever worked with.”

I share this with you not due to any need of recognition; rather, I share this with you to make you aware of the work that is being done in the classrooms of the liberal arts college at Youngstown State University, particularly the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department.  The faculty and staff of the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department prepared me, a non-traditional student and a first-generation college graduate, in such a way that I am now considered a top candidate for doctoral work in my field.

I have heard rumors that several liberal arts programs are at risk of being reduced or cut altogether. I will be the first to admit that I am completely ignorant of what it takes to effectively run a state university, but I also know that if it were not for the foundation laid by the men and women in the college of liberal arts, specifically in areas of language, philosophy, and religious studies, I would never have earned a fellowship to Harvard University, and I most certainly would not have been able to excel at the graduate level.  My fellow students here at Harvard all come from academic institutions that have a commitment to the liberal arts.  This includes students from all Harvard graduate schools;  the medical school, business College, and law school.  If Youngstown State wishes to continue to send its graduates to the leading graduate schools in the country, then it must maintain its commitment to the liberal arts, including language, philosophy, and the study of world religion. If not, graduates from Youngstown State will simply not be able to compete with students in the academy.

Again, I share this with you out of my love, pride, and concern about MY Youngstown State University.  Thank you for the work that you do, and your commitment to the students of YSU. I know their welfare are you chief priority.  My aim here is only to give voice to some of those who may no longer walk the halls of YSU, but always carry a piece of YSU with us.

Penguin for life!

Cary W Dabney

Master of Divinity Candidate, 2016

Harvard University, Divinity School

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2015-2016 Shipka Speaker: Dr. Shaun Nichols

On October 15, 2015, Dr. Shaun Nichols of the University of Arizona presented a talk on the relationship between morality and emotions entitled: “Morality and the Emotional Brain”.

2015–2016 Shipka Speaker: Dr. Shaun Nichols from YSU Phil and Rel Studies on Vimeo.

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Youngstown Torch Club Invitation

The newly elected president of the Youngstown Torch Club has invited any interested persons from the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies or any students of philosophy to their meetings that take place in Kilcawley Center every month. The first meeting of the 2015–2016 season will be Sept 21st. The schedule is: 5:30 social time; 6 to 7 PM dinner; 7:15 Discussion Time. September’s topic is historical, economic and philosophic: “The Nashville Experiment 1863: how should the Market be regulated”. Anyone is invited to any phase of our meeting. If you are interested, please contact Don Butler, at 330–856–5897

History of the Torch Club (from the International Torch Club website:

From ancient times a torch has been a symbol of Light and Truth. It is the same today. Torch International proudly uses the torch, with the addition of a triangle – – a symbol of Deity – – Recognizing the source of all intelligence as its emblem. The Association of Torch Clubs was founded on June 18, 1924 by William Bullock, who had the vision of forming an association of clubs across the country with a purpose of broadening intellectual and social horizons. “The objective,” he said, “is to be cultural and educational, to get light and understanding on all vital subjects.”

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Who Said Philosophy Doesn’t Pay?

A recent article in The Atlantic magazine compares the salaries of humanities graduates. Guess who comes out on top? &nbsp

The Earning Power of Philosophy Majors

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Dr. Deborah Mower Received NEH Grant

Congratulations to Dr. Mower who, along with her co-winner Dr. Phyllis Vandenberg, professor of Philosophy at Grand Valley State University in Michigan has recently received a $150,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant to run a four-week long Summer Institute for College and University Teachers on “Moral Psychology and Education”. The YSU Newsroom Center has published a nice article discussing the award. The article can be accessed here.

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Alumni Update: Michael Poljak

Image of Michael Poljak

Michael J. Poljak: Bethel Park, PA

Dr. Bruce Waller has received more good news about one of our graduates.

Michael Poljak graduated with a degree in philosophy and a minor in psychology in 2013. He was also a YSU hockey player, and national rookie of the year. He would eventually hold the poistion of head coach for 2 years.

Michael recently completed a Masters of Science in Education, Counseling/Student Affairs and Leadership. While pursuing his masters’s degree he worked for 3 years in the Center for Student Progress as a Graduate Assistant Intern and Peer Mentor.

Michael informed us that he has recently been hired as the Academic Counseling Coordinator in the Office of Academic Development at Carnegie Mellon University. He will be responsible for supervising, guiding, training, managing, and hiring 15 to 20 Academic Counselors. These counselors will meet one on one and occasionally in small groups with CMU students in order to support their academic, social, and emotional needs. He will also be responsible for assisting student led tutoring and supplemental instruction sessions along with creating educational workshops.

The department wishes Michael the best of luck in his new position.

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Alumni Update: Sean Geizer

Recent graduate Sean Geizer is currently working at an after school academy on the south side of Seoul, South Korea. He teaches approximately 7 classes per day of 40–50 minutes each with a 5 minute break between classes. He works with elementary and middle school students after their public school lets out.

In a recent email to Bruce Waller, Sean had some very nice things to say about his experiences in our department:

My time with the department was to brief but still the cornerstone of my time at YSU. I didn’t know anything about it [philosophy] when I enrolled at YSU, but I eventually got sucked in and am glad I did. It changed my life and I am eternally grateful. Even if I weren’t preparing for graduate studies in philosophy, it has helped me teach logical fallacies in debate class for ESL Korean children, and get annoyed every time someone on TV says, “that begs the question. ..” incorrectly. If there’s ever something I can do for the department or you personally, please please please let me know.

The department wishes Sean the best of luck with his teaching in Korea and with his future graduate studies.

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