On Wednesday, March 22nd, Duke Honor Council held a talk with Professor Dirk Philipsen as part of Honor Council’s Integrity Week. An Associate Research Professor of economic history at the Sanford School of Public Policy and a Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Professor Philipsen’s work focuses on economics, capitalism, and sustainability. These topics became the basis of discussion for this Honor Council event. More specifically, Professor Philipsen talked about the intersection of economics and sustainability, focusing on the fact that, in the years to come, our market structure will not allow us to continue our current way of life here on earth. We are already using well beyond a sustainable amount of earth’s resources, and our market’s focus on growth, Professor Philipsen argued, is unnecessary considering what we currently produce and its ability to support the world’s inhabitants.
What really struck a chord with listeners was Professor Philipsen’s question, “what will you tell your children when they must face what we’ve done to the earth?” Though it is certainly frightening to think about the earth’s current prognosis, Professor Philipsen’s focus on what we, the next generation of thinkers, innovators, and educators, can do to improve the situation gave listeners hope and reason to think about our actions.
Professor Philipsen also encouraged listeners to think about what truly matters to them, opening the discussion by asking students both what they cared about and what bothered them. Coupled with his discussion on sustainability, listeners left Professor Philipsen’s talk thinking about meaning, purpose, and our ability to make the change that needs to happen for the world. His talk provided fascinating examples of honor, integrity, and morality, as he encouraged students both to seek authentic, purposeful lives and to care about one of the most pressing concerns of our time.
You can learn more about Professor Philipsen, on his website, http://www.dirkphilipsen.com/. Duke Honor Council gives a huge thank you to Professor Philipsen for a fantastic and engaging discussion!