Emory campus to engage on ethics with the Dalai Lama

By Elaine Justice | Oct. 7, 2013

Emory University students, faculty and staff this week are looking forward to the visit of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, and have been preparing across campus for discussions on responsible citizenship, ethics and education.  

On Wednesday, Oct. 9, students will have the opportunity to attend "Secular Ethics 101" with the Dalai Lama, who will deliver a traditional "intro-course" lecture in his role as Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory. Emory President James Wagner will moderate the question-and-answer session following the lecture.  

"Secular ethics is the ethics that we engage with when we think about human being-to-human being interaction that is outside of the realm of a particular type of religious sect," says Carlton Mackey, assistant director of the Ethics and Servant Leadership Program at Emory's Center for Ethics.  

"It reaches out to everyone; it doesn't discriminate," adds Emory freshman Asha Caslin. "It's saying this is a common good, a morality we all have within us, so embrace that."  

In a session Wednesday afternoon, the Dalai Lama will have a wide-ranging discussion with faculty on his book, "Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World," co-sponsored by Emory's Center for Ethics and Department of Religion.  

"We are going to be engaging the Dalai Lama's proposal in that book seriously from an academic perspective," says Paul Root Wolpe, director of the Center for Ethics and moderator of the discussion.  

Three faculty members, Wendy Farley of the Department of Religion, Philippe Rochat of the Department of Psychology, and Edward Queen of the Center for Ethics, will be panelists for the session. Also participating will be about 40 faculty members and graduate students from departments across the university, who will pose questions after the initial presentation.  

"His Holiness is interested in real dialogue about the book, not deference," says Wolpe. "It will hopefully be a very lively and interesting conversation."