‘Doing good’ is theme of University Series

Social responsibility always has been an underlying theme at the University of Indianapolis, beginning with the University’s founding as a church-related institution in 1902. And it was reaffirmed several decades later, when its “Education for Service” motto was adopted, and remains in force today.

Scene from Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan, the parable of a young woman who tries to follow all of the commandments of the gods yet is quickly taken advantage of by those she attempts to help

The focus became even sharper with this year’s launch of a University Series of lectures and related conversations devoted to the importance of “doing good.”

The University looked to one of its own, forensic anthropologist Stephen Nawrocki, to kick off the series with a lecture and discussion about the “Healing Power of Science: Forensics as Community Service.” Nawrocki and his students often put their education into service by assisting law enforcement agencies with cases that require identifying human remains.

The FBI’s No. 2 official, Deputy Director John Pistole, delivered “The FBI & Social Responsibility: A New Paradigm” in October. Pistole has since been nominated by President Obama to lead the Transportation Security Administration.

Other events in the series included a lecture by ice cream magnate Jerry Greenfield, cofounder of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc., and a presentation from Eboo Patel, founder and director of the InterFaith Youth Core, offered in connection with the Indianapolis Spirit & Place Festival.

A performance of Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan and a pair of lectures from a theology professor on the subject of “What I (as a Christian) Have Learned from Muslims Classical and Contemporary” rounded out the programming.

The lectures, programs, and special events of the University Series are designed to foster discussion in the campus community about the University’s four learning goals: social responsibility, creativity, performance, and critical thinking.

In 2010–11, the dominant theme will shift to creativity through conversations organized under the banner “Sculpting Our Lives,” though social responsibility will remain in view as a central force underlying all.

“Everyone can be agents of creative purpose,” notes Michael Cartwright, dean of Ecumenical and Interfaith Programs. “Collectively, we sculpt our lives and the lives of others as we engage challenges in the public sphere. And we have the opportunity as individuals to self-consciously shape our lives as we seek personal integrity in relation to those around us.”