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Grant number like: AQ-50242-10

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Saginaw Valley State University (University Center, MI 48710-0001)
Peter Brian Rose-Barry (Project Director: September 2009 to April 2014)

Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants
Education Programs

$25,000 (approved)
$25,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2010 – 6/30/2012

NEH Enduring Questions Course on "Evil and Evil People"

The development of an undergraduate course for sophomores and juniors on such topics as ancient, medieval, and modern conceptions of evil; typologies of evil and wickedness; evil people and evil actions; evil characters in literature and film; Nazism and the Holocaust; and group action and genocide.

This course will explore the enduring question of evil- "Are there evil people? And what must they be like if there are'? Enquiry into this question is enquiry in moral psychology, an interdisciplinary field informed by ethics, psychology, psychiatry, history, sociology, and so forth. Students will be exposed to classical readings from moral philosophy, psychology and literature relevant to understanding evil personhood. My intent is to use works of literature to encourage students to reflect upon and discuss what evil people are like, to use philosophical works to encourage refinement and critical reflection upon those conceptions of evil personhood, and to use works from the social sciences to both determine just how plausible those conceptions of evil personhood are and to empirically inform them in light of the fact that otherwise common human beings do engage in acts of horrible cruelty and genocide.