From Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem to the Black Lives Matter movement to the All Lives Matter rebuttal, racial inequality is at the forefront of the American media and social and political consciousness.
Students will have the opportunity this week to learn and discuss with faculty the subject of inequality, in its variety of facets. The two-day conference is part of the Conversations on Morality, Politics and Society (COMPAS) program run by Ohio State’s Center for Ethics and Human Values. COMPAS is a yearlong program dedicated to a single theme that is relevant to morality, politics and society. It has two major conferences each year and several smaller events scattered throughout. The theme of this year is inequality.
Professor Don Hubin, director of COMPAS, said the program is supposed to focus on how inequality affects society as a whole.
“We want to engage people to think about (the question) ‘When do we care about inequality?’” Hubin said. “Is it inequality itself that matters, or is it the fact that some people don’t have enough? What forms matter? And when is it just a concern?”
Over the weekend, there will be several speakers from disciplines ranging from economics to women’s, gender and sexuality studies, set to sit on panels and have cross-disciplinary conversations. Hubin said the conversational tone will make it more accessible to the audience, because the language will not consist of highly technical terms.
Christa Johnson, a graduate student in philosophy and the logistical coordinator for COMPAS, said she thinks it is great to see so many people, particularly students, being passionate about this issue. However, she also said she thinks some inequalities are being forgotten, which is what COMPAS is trying to address.
“We latch onto one inequality, and forget about the rest,” she said.
The conference will address different types of inequality, relating to economics, politics, law, health and education.
“People give this (millennial) generation a hard time about caring,” Johnson said. “But it’s clear there is a big passion about these issues. And it’s important to ground out that passion.”
COMPAS is also having a photography contest for students that will involve them with finding themes of inequality, and earning a little extra cash in the process.
“This is a wonderful way for students to explore the COMPAS theme,” Hubin said. “It can make you appreciate some issues that you normally don’t see if you’ve grown up in a fairly comfortable environment.”
The deadline to receive photos is Oct. 7. First prize is $500, second is $250 and third is $100.
All COMPAS events are free and open to the public with no registration required. The conference, set to take place in the Campus Reading Room on the 11th floor of Thompson Library, is slated to start on Thursday, with multiple one-to-two hour sessions slated between 1:15 and 6:30 p.m. The conference continues Friday with the same multi-session set up slated to go on from 8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Correction, Sept. 20: A previous version of this article had the wrong location listed for the COMPAS conference.