Book Groups

The Center for Ethics and Public Engagement facilitates conversations beyond the classroom to examine assumptions, exchange ideas, and encourage responsible action in our world. Sign-up below to read and discuss the following books (books are provided and are yours to keep).

Current Books

Sarah Jaquette Ray, A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety
Facilitators: Sydney Frank and Riley Masica
Meeting Time: Thursday, March 2nd, 9:45-10:45AM
Location: The CEPE – Olin 214
Number of Participants: 20

Sarah Jaquette Ray’s Field Guide to Climate Anxiety balances personal responsibility with the understanding that the planet’s environmental issues are caused by systems beyond one individual’s control. The guide seeks to answer the question of how people, particularly millennials and Gen Z, can emotionally cope with climate change and affect meaningful change despite the scale of the problem. Ray stresses the importance of shifting stories of the future to incorporate eco-imagination, or the relationship between the actions people take and the environment. She also considers the social complexities involved in addressing climate change and the importance of making climate change a local issue rather than an elitist one.

Sarah Jaquette Ray will be visiting Luther on April 18th. As part of Climate Justice Week, she will give a talk titled “Climate Justice and the Politics of Emotions.” Joining the book group is one good way to prepare for Dr. Ray’s visit.

Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On
Facilitator: tba
Meeting Time: Thursday, March 9th, 9:45-10:45AM
Location: The CEPE – Olin 214
Number of Participants: 20

Named #1 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, What’s Going On is a protest album about issues such as climate change, poverty, and the Vietnam War. The 1971 album marked a change in soul music and in the music industry as a whole. Its legacy has inspired countless artists and continues to spark conversation as creators compliment, quote, and critique Marvin Gaye’s work. Plus, it’ll get you in a groove.

Kali Simmons, The Environment is Us: Settler Cartographies of Indigeneity and Blackness in Prophecy (1979)
Facilitator: Prof. Andy Hageman
Discussion Time:Thursday, March 16th, 9:45-10:45AM
Discussion Location:The CEPE – Olin 214
Number of Participants: 20

There will be a screening for the film “Prophecy” in Olin 102 on Tuesday, March 14th from 7:30-9:30PM.

This special two-part tie-in event is offered to onboard folks to the vital theoretical work Dr. Kali Simmons is producing and to the sorts of films she’s critiquing in that work. Dr. Simmons will give her public lecture “The Ones Who Did Not Die: Indigenous Killers, Final Girls, and Captivity Narratives” on Wednesday, April 12 at 5:30pm in Valders 206.

The first part of the series is a nighttime screening of John Frankenheimer’s 1979 ecohorror film, Prophecy. As Dr. Simmons notes, Prophecy warrants close analysis because it is a rare film narrative that tries to feature contemporary Indigenous people resisting the land grabs and wanton pollution of a logging corporation. What’s fascinating is how, even as the film aspires to be politically engaged, it significantly rehearses and reinforces the ideologies of structural racism in league with ecological devastation. Please note: Prophecy is a horror film. It includes some violence and gore–let’s just say that PG in 1979 is not PG in 2023, not by a longshot.

The second part of the series is a discussion of Prophecy and Dr. Simmons’s article “‘The environment is us’: Settler Cartographies of Indigeneity and Blackness in Prophecy,” published in 2021. In this session, participants will discuss the film by exploring their own responses to it and the arguments Dr. Simmons builds and bolsters. This article is readily accessible to folks who are curious and smart but may not have advanced experience or degrees in film studies. The CEPE has a print copy of the article available for each registered participant.

*If you would like to participate in the discussion but can’t make the screening, Prophecy (1979) is also available on Youtube and Amazon Prime.

Steven Graham Jones, Earthdivers #1
Facilitator: Prof. Derek Sweet
Meeting Time: Thursday, March 30th, 9:45-10:45AM
Location: The CEPE – Olin 214
Number of Participants: 18

In a desperate attempt to save the future, a small group of indigenous apocalypse-survivors create a plan to travel back in time. Their goal is to sabotage the voyage of the Santa Maria by killing Christopher Columbus. But history is more complicated than the legacy of one man and the cost of rewriting time may be higher than anticipated. This sci-fi slasher comic explores the future of climate disasters, the ongoing history of colonialism, and the cost of survival.

Earthdivers is written by Stephen Graham Jones, author of My Heart is a Chainsaw and The Only Good Indians. The series is illustrated by Davide Gianfelice, illustrator for Northlanders and Ghosted.

Franny Choi, The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On
Facilitator: tba
Meeting Time: Thursday, May 4th, 9:45-10:45AM
Location: The CEPE – Olin 214
Number of Participants: 15

“By the time the apocalypse began, the world had already ended.

It ended every day for a century or two. It ended, and another ending

world spun in its place.”

In this poetry collection, Franny Choi explores the meaning of an apocalypse and what comes after it. Recognizing the modern dystopia, she reminds readers that for many people the world has already ended, whether through war, racism, colonization, or other tragedy. Referencing specific historical examples and imagining potential futures, Choi explores the emotions of an apocalypse and hopes for the present and future.