Vulnerability and Responsibility

The theme of this year’s Presidential Colloquium, “Vulnerability and Responsibility,” was chosen with an eye to alignment with the summer reading program for incoming freshmen. (This year incoming freshmen read The Iguana Tree, a novel written by Clemson alumna Michel Stone, which, she told the assembled freshman class, is about “hope and humanity.”) Colloquium events will explore the relationship between vulnerability, noting that we are all vulnerable in some measure, and responsibility, not in the sense that presupposes culpability, but in the sense of what one can be reasonably expected to do—what one's responsibilities are. The colloquium will also explore whether and to what extent the vulnerabilities of citizens entail societal responsibilities.

The aim of the Presidential Colloquium is to provide opportunities for Clemson University students and faculty, as well as members of the community to come together to explore important issues. The colloquium comprises various events spread over the academic year, e.g., speakers, theatrical performances, panel discussions, and films. In every case the event is linked to the colloquium theme, which is selected with an eye to its integration “across the curriculum.


February 20, 2014

Self Auditorium
Strom Thurmond
Mr. Tom Keith
President, Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina
Columbia, SC

Tom Keith

Tom Keith










"Charity Matters: Does Your Contribution Make a Difference?"

In times of limited resources and unending need, making wise choices to give of one’s time and money takes on an ever increasing importance.  Yet many decisions to give to organizations and causes are made without adequate reflection of the ultimate impact of the gift.  Just as there is now a movement by foundations and other philanthropic organizations to demand of grantees that they show a “return on investment,” individual donors are also encouraged to be more diligent about how gifts of money and time translate to meaningful results.  When money and volunteer time are given unwisely, the outcomes may be more than simply wasted resources; the outcomes may actually be harmful to the intended beneficiaries.  Moreover, giving wisely means more than adequately investigating the intended charity recipients or effectiveness of programming.  Giving wisely also means developing a personal philanthropic philosophy toward change.  Are you more inclined toward giving for humanitarian causes (providing fish) or changing behavior (teaching people to fish) or perhaps social changes (creating more opportunities for fishing)?  With a focus on South Carolina, this interactive colloquium is organized to provide you an opportunity to explore your own personal philosophy of giving and reflect on how to give more effectively in the future.

Tom Keith is the president of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, a position he has held since March 1996. The Sisters of Charity Foundation, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System, has awarded more than $52 million through over 1,800 grants across South Carolina since its inception.
Mr. Keith serves on Winthrop University Foundation and South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families Boards of Trustees. He has been an active member of the Southeastern Council of Foundations since 2002, including serving on the board from 2004 to 2010. He is a founding member and former chairman of the South Carolina Grantmakers Network, a group of 40 grantmaking foundations from across the state. Mr. Keith is an advocate for the poor and underserved and speaks to an array of foundations, community groups, colleges, nonprofits, and faith-based groups on a regular basis.

In 2007 Mr. Keith was appointed to serve on the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission by Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal. He was inducted into Winthrop University College of Business Pinnacle Society in 2008 and earned the Clemson University Institute for Family and Neighborhood Life Leadership Award in 2009. In 2004 he received the Healthy Learners “In All Things Charity” Award. In march 2013 Mr. Keith received the Otis A. Corbitt Leadership Award for outstanding service in Human Services and Community Development.
With over 35 years experience in nonprofit leadership in five states, Mr. Keith earned his BA in Communications from Marshall University and a MBA from Winthrop University.

Mr. Keith is a newly elected member of the Board of Directors for FADICA, a national organization made up of foundations interested in Catholic activities based in Washington, D.C.


Mark Small

Mark Small

Mark A. Small, J.D., Ph.D is Associate Director of the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life, Director of Graduate Studies and Professor of psychology.  He formerly held law and psychology faculty appointments at the University of South Carolina and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and has served as a Fulbright Scholar (2004) and Fulbright Senior Specialist (2006) in the Czech Republic.  Prof. Small has served as principal investigator on grant projects funded by agencies within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and public foundations within South Carolina. 

He was principal investigator for the South Carolina Rural Communities Compassion Project, a 10-year competitively-funded initiative by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and South Carolina Foundations to build the capacity of rural faith and community-based organizations to provide child and family services.  As part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Child, Youth, and Family Services program, Prof. Small serves as one of 8 national consultants that provide technical assistance to community programs across the country.  Also as part of the program, Prof. Small is principal investigator of the Clemson Sustainable Communities Project, a program designed to provide after-school services to vulnerable populations in Spartanburg County.


Sponsored By:
The Rutland Institute for Ethics
The Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life


September 5, 2013

Strom Thurmond Institute
Dr. Christopher Wellman
Professor of Philosophy
Washington University, St. Louis

Christopher Wellman

Christopher Wellman

"Procedural Rights"

Christopher Heath Wellman is Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis. He works in ethics, specializing in political and legal philosophy. His most recent books are Liberal Rights and Responsibilities and (with Phillip Cole) Debating the Ethics of Immigration: Is There a Right to Exclude? He is currently completing a book on criminal law.

"...In this essay, I argue that, absent special circumstances, there are no moral, judicial procedural rights. I divide this essay into four main sections. First I argue that there is no general moral right against double jeopardy. Next I explain why punishing a criminal without first establishing her guilt via a fair trial does not necessarily violate her rights. In the third section I respond to a number of possible objections. And finally, I consider the implications of my arguments for the human right to due process..."




Sponsored By:
The Rutland Institute for Ethics
The Lemon Lectures in Social, Legal and Political Thought


January 27, 2014

232 Hardin Hall
Dr. Stephen Nathanson
Professor of Philosophy
Northeastern University

Stephen Nathanson

Stephen Nathanson

"Political Polarization and the Markets vs. Government Debate"

One of the most divisive issues in U. S. politics involves the role of government. In particular, there are strongly contrasting views about what functions should be carried out by government and what should be left to the workings of a “free market” economy. In this talk, I suggest that the markets vs. government debate is especially polarizing because it assumes that we must choose between two, extremely different systems, capitalism and socialism. If we had a richer set of economic/political concepts, it would be clear that there is a spectrum of many possible systems and that we do not face an either/or choice between capitalism and socialism. A better set of economic/political concepts would enable us to escape from old ruts and to find better ways to think about these issues.

Stephen Nathanson is Professor of Philosophy at Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts. He received his B. A. with Honors in Philosophy from Swarthmore College, and his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Johns Hopkins University. Professor Nathanson's most recent book is Terrorism and the Ethics of War (2010). In addition, he is the author of Patriotism, Morality and Peace (1993); Economic Justice (1998); An Eye for an Eye? The Immorality of Punishing by Death (2nd ed., 2001); Should We Consent to be Governed? (2nd ed., 2001), and numerous articles on issues in ethics and political philosophy.



Sponsored By:
The Rutland Institute for Ethics
The Lemon Lectures in Social, Legal and Political Thought
Department of Philosophy and Religion

College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities

February 6, 2014

Lee Hall Auditorium
Dr. John Protevi
Phyllis M Taylor Professor of French Studies; Professor of Philosophy
Louisiana State University

Dr. John Protevi

John Protevi

"Darwin, Disasters, War and Prosociality"

The talk has four parts. 1) “Disaster politics": the difference between imagined individualist violence and the reality of cooperative or "prosocial" behavior. 2) The biology and evolution of prosocial behaviors and emotions. 3) The claim that prevalent pre-State war selects for in-group face-to-face altruism. 4) The question whether complex hierarchies use "horizontal" face-to-face in-group altruism to maintain cohesion.

John Protevi is Phyllis M Taylor Professor of French Studies and Professor of Philosophy at Louisiana State University. His most recent book is Life, War, Earth: Deleuze and the Sciences (Minnesota, 2013). He is also the editor of A Dictionary of Continental Philosophy (Yale, 2006). His research and teaching materials can be found at; he is also a blogger at New APPS:



Sponsored By:
The Rutland Institute for Ethics
Department of Philosophy and Religion

The Robert J. Rutland Institute for Ethics announces...

The 12th Annual

J.T. Barton Jr. Ethics Essay Scholarship Competition


1st Place

Taylor Anne Banta

2nd Place

Yanina Teresa Breakiron

3rd Place

Scott Adams Herkamp


1st Prize: $1,500 Scholarship

2nd Prize: $1,000 Scholarship

3rd Prize: $500 Scholarship

Ida Spruill, PhD, RN, LISW, FAAN
Assistant Professor, College of Nursing
Medical University of South Carolina

"As a community health/health disparities researcher, I wish to relay to the selection committee that its recognition of Dr. Spruill's work goes far beyond what they likely realize (few would have believed that this acknowledgement would have been possible)!"
Shirley M. Timmons, PhD, RN, CNE
Clemson University
Assistant Professor

Ida Spruill, a nurse, faculty member and researcher in the College of Nursing at the Medical University of South Carolina, is the inaugural recipient of the Rutland Institute’s “Bringing Ethics into Focus” Award. Spruill is recognized for her accomplishments in health care research resulting in dramatic health improvements in individuals and communities.

Spruill’s engagement of African-American communities in community-based participatory research reveals a deep and admirable ethical commitment to treating people with respect and to making access to health care more equitable for underserved populations. Her approach to medical research, which emphasizes building trust and achieving buy-in from the study participants, increases the significance of and confidence in the results.

Raymond Greenberg, president of the Medical University of South Carolina, in his nomination of Spruill, noted, “The principles underlying her efforts to report to the communities and share the outcomes of the research demonstrates a quality of respect and understanding rarely found in the most sophisticated methodologies.” Her projects stand as examples of excellence that can inspire others.

The “Bringing Ethics into Focus” Award recognizes significant efforts to bring about a more ethical environment within South Carolina, including actions that bring about improvements directly related to the ethical climate and/or culture of the community.

Our outstanding Ethics Bowl team won the Mid-Atlantic Regional ethics Bowl in Baltimore on Saturday, November 19th! Now, The Orange Wave will go on to compete in the National Ethics Bowl on March 1st in Cincinnati.

The team is divided into two groups. The Presenters are the ones who actually present the case study analyses in the competition. This year's presenters are:

Courtney Dixon, a senior double majoring in Philosophy & Political Science. Courtney was the department’s first student intern to serve with the SC supreme court and plans to go on to law school next year.

Yancey Appling, a junior Microbiology major. He tells us that he is so tall because he has an extra vertebrae.

Kyle Sporrer, a senior Philosophy major who has never lost an eating contest.

Nikki Powell, a senior Microbiology major. She’s the smallest contender on the team, but good things come in small packages.

Eric Reeves, a senior in Political Science who also plans on going to law school next year.

Then we have the Assistant squad. Although they don’t have the glory of competing, they fulfill an essential role in preparing the presenters by helping them think through every conceivable angle on each case. This year we have six assistants:

Allison Kowalski, a sophomore in Political Science and Spanish.

Alex Knowles, a junior in Philosophy.

Matthew Londergan, a senior Political Science major.

Melissa "Luke" Hibdon, a Junior in Psychology and Pre-Professional Health Studies.

Ali Cumings, a senior majoring in Philosophy.

Greg Daly, a senior in Psychology.

The faculty advisor for The Orange Wave Ethics Bowl Team, which is also a creative inquiry, is Kelly Smith, a C. Calhoun Lemon Fellow and associate professor of philosophy. He can be contacted at