Levan Institute Virtues and Vices Series: What is Courage?

Virtues and Vices Series: What is Courage?

Co-sponsored by the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics and the Thematic Option Honors Program

Join us for a wide-ranging discussion that tries to get at the virtue of courage. Why might it be important for us to determine the limits of courage? When is an act courageous? When might the same act instead be cowardly or reckless? Can someone act with courage without understanding what courage is? What is the relationship between the virtue of courage and other virtues like wisdom, justice, and reverence? How might we best be courageous in our daily lives?

The discussion will be guided by students from Thematic Option and Levan Institute Fellows and will be moderated by James Collins, Assistant Professor of Classics. All who are interested in participating are welcome.

Date: Monday, September 29, 2014
Location: THH 201
Time: 5:00 – 6:00 PM | Pizza Served

RSVP here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1-PTcOzYmxsHeXreYKYcBp3UQhx7DMEXQIP4xcbqQRwo/viewform


Levan Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics—COLLEGE ATHLETICS: Play or Work?

October 8, 2014, Ground Zero Cafe | Noon | Lunch Provided


College sports can be big business, generating enormous revenues for schools and salaries for coaches, while their athletes receive just scholarship, room and board.  Currently, pending lawsuits seek to remove caps on player compensation and to allow players to share in profits from the use of their likenesses.  Debate is growing over whether college athletes should unionize as employees.  What is a level playing field for college sports?

Moderated by Sharon Lloyd, Professor of Philosophy, Law, and Political Science

Levan Coffeehouse Conversations on Practical Ethics encourage faculty, staff, and students from every part of our USC community to talk about the ethical questions of the day.

ZYGO Series—HOBBY LOBBY: The Ethics of Healthcare between Corporation, Church and State

Friday, October 3, 2014, DML 241 | 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM | Lunch Provided


Co-sponsored by the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics and the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study

In September 2012, Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts and crafts stores, filed a lawsuit against the United States over a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) which mandated that health insurance provided by employers must include access to emergency contraceptives. Hobby Lobby stated that this provision violated their religious beliefs, and argued that they were protected by the First Amendment and Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The Supreme Court eventually ruled in their favor. This panel will seek to discuss the various ethical issues associated with the intersection of religion and health care, and the implications of this ruling. Is it ethical for a corporation to determine the exact services included in government- mandated health insurance for religious reasons? Furthermore, did this PPACA provision prevent Hobby Lobby from freely exercising religion, for which the RFRA was initially enacted?

Moderator: Varun Awasthi, ZYGO Student Director

Confirmed Panelists:
Hilary Schor, University Professor, English, Comparative Literature, Gender Studies and Law
Varun Soni, Dean, USC Office of Religious Life
Alida Liberman, Ph.D. Candidate, Philosophy, Levan Graduate Fellow
Drew Schmidt, Undergraduate Student, Philosophy, Politics, and Law, Levan Undergraduate Fellow, USC Dornsife

The ZYGO Series is organized by USC students in health and medicine who seek dialogue with USC faculty across disciplines in order to increase the integration of ethical themes into their curriculum.

zygo / ˈzʌɪgəʊ, ˈzɪgəʊ / pref. relating to union or joining

The Amygdala and the Stethoscope: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine – A Lecture by Danielle Ofri

The Amygdala and the Stethoscope: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine – A Lecture by Danielle Ofri

Vision & Voices – The Medical Humanities, Arts, and Ethics Series

Date: Monday, September 22, 2014
Location: Mayer Auditorium, USC Health Sciences Campus
Time: 11:30-12:30 PM

As part of the Medical Humanities, Arts, and Ethics Series, which engages core health issues in society today, we will present an afternoon with essayist and physician Danielle Ofri. Renowned for her use of dramatic stories, Ofri will explore how emotions permeate clinical decisions and provoke physicians, despite their commitment to the scientific method, to act in ways that are not nearly as rational and evidence-based as they may think.

Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine, has her clinical home at Bellevue Hospital, the oldest public hospital in the country. She writes about medicine and the patient-physician relationship for the New York Times and is the founder and editor in chief of the Bellevue Literary Review, the first literary journal to arise from a medical setting. Ofri is the recipient of the John P. McGovern Award from the American Medical Writers Association for “preeminent contributions to medical communication.”

Organized by Pamela Schaff (Pediatrics and Family Medicine), Lyn Boyd-Judson (Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics), and Alexander Capron (Law and Medicine).

Co-sponsored by the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics, Keck School of Medicine’s Program in Medical Humanities, Arts, and Ethics, and the USC Pacific Center for Health Policy and Ethics.

Research Assistant Position

We are looking for new undergraduate research assistants to aid in research tasks focusing on social and health consequences of drug use.  This is a paid part-time position through the USC School of Social Work and would include assisting with research tasks, such as data entry, literature reviews, and basic data analysis. Those with statistical or qualitative analysis experience are encouraged to apply. Spanish speakers are not required, but preferred.  If interested, please send a completed application and resume to erikague@usc.edu.

Undergraduate Research Opportunity

Interested in gaining valuable experience in a research lab?

Looking for a strong letter of recommendation?

The Town lab is looking for motivated undergraduate students who are interested in gaining lab experience as a research assistant. Our lab focuses on the interface between two main systems of the body, the central nervous system and immune system. More specifically, our lab is interested in the innate immune system in Alzheimer’s disease. There are projects focused on immune drug deliveries in Alzheimer rats, immune reactions to neural stem cell engraftments, and the basic cellular biology of microglia (the resident immune cells of the brain).

Freshmen and sophomores looking for multiple years of experience are highly encouraged to apply. Juniors with lab experience are also encouraged to apply. Animal handling experience is a bonus. Drosophila experience is also a bonus. We are asking students to dedicate at least 15 hours per week.

If you are interested, please send an email with a one paragraph description of your reasons for wanting to join the Town lab along with your CV to Allan Jensen allanjen@usc.edu

New Course Math for 499 (no math prerequisite)

Math 499 The Foundations of Mathematics and the Acquisition of Mathematical Knowledge Spring 2014

Why is addition commutative but its ‘inverse’ subtraction is not? Why is a equal to a÷b? b

Whyis a ÷c equalto a ×d? Whyisthisstilltrueevenifa,b,canddaren’tintegers? bd bc

What does e + π mean and how can we evaluate it? What is the difference in the meaning of the equals sign between x2 −1 = 0, x2 −1 = (x−1)(x+1), (x2 −1)/(x−1) = x+1 and √x2 = x? What does it mean for a line to be straight? Are there lines that are not straight? In Math 499 we will be addressing these questions and more!

In this class we will explore the foundations of mathematics and how we acquire and process mathematical knowledge. We will revisit K-12 mathematics from the point of view of a mathematician. We will explore the roles of metaphors, models, and definitions. We will discuss the use of symbols and see that even in mathematics their meanings are often contextual. We will compare and contrast proofs and convincing arguments and think about the roles they play in developing and understanding mathematics. We will discuss the relationship between mathematics and our physical world and how we use mathematics to understand the physical world. We will consider various algorithms common in K- 12 mathematics and discuss why and how they work. We also will read and discuss the literature on how K-12 mathematics is taught and how we learn and process that knowledge. Throughout the semester, you will also the opportunity to observe and participate in classes at AUGUSTUS HAWKINS High School. This is a new school with a modern curriculum implementing an initiative called the Algebra Project.

This class has no prerequisites. In particular, it is not necessary to have taken any college level math classes; you are only expected to know how to count (albeit fairly well!). However, students must be willing to engage with the material at a mathematically sophisticated level. There will be very little lecturing. There will be a lot of discussion, group work, and both oral and written presentations. This class will be valuable for math majors, anyone with an interest in teaching mathematics, and sociology and psychology majors interested in the science of learning.

David Crombecque


Mathematics Department


Course offering: has a service learning component

relevant majors: mathematics, sciences, psychology, sociology,