President's High Table

Phi Beta Kappa logo

The 2013 President’s High Table will take place April 8 in the Orton Center, following the initiation of new members of Phi Beta Kappa, a national academic honor society.

Philosophy professor Dr. Kathie Jenni will be the guest speaker, presenting “The Power of the Visual: Witnessing and Moral Motivation.”

“I'll be discussing the dramatic power of visual images, such as photographs and especially films, to enliven empathy and motivation to take moral action,” she said. “This is something I've observed in my teaching about ethical issues such as animal treatment, world hunger, and our responsibilities to address those problems and others. I explore the question: what is it that the visual provides that is absent in other ways of learning? Why does the visual move us to action when prose and statistics do not?”

Jenni will also explore society’s tendency to forget the moral resolutions formed when presented with documentary evidence of problems, after the images have faded from our memories.

“I argue that we have a responsibility to renew our direct acquaintance with those problems through images, precisely because we know that the visual will move us to act on our moral values,” she said. “I also discuss ways in which awareness of suffering and the sense of urgent responsibilities to help need not undermine happiness. To the contrary: our responses to the visual show us how much we can care, and how caring can give meaning to our lives.”

Jenni is pleased to be participating in an event that honors “some of our best and most serious students.”

“In the same way that we celebrate superb athletic, musical, or theatrical performances, the Phi Beta Kappa dinner celebrates and honors students who have worked hard and well across the curriculum,” she said. “These students have chosen to take full advantage of a liberal arts education, taking courses in the sciences, arts, humanities and more, and they have achieved excellence while doing so.”

The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. Reservations are now closed.

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