Further Reflections are instructor-led, multi-session virtual courses held on Zoom for small discussion groups.
As we hear distressing news from around the world, we may remind ourselves of times and places when human beings did come close to building a workable and just society for everyone. These were not idealistic communes in the woods but large well-organized societies that managed to achieve a social justice far beyond what was typical of their ages. These episodes have largely been erased from history by conquering empires; many of them are known only through recent archaeological studies.
In this course, we will read about and discuss these times and places: from the Indus Valley civilization, the most advanced society of 2000 BC, to the small self-governing city states in Central America, which held off the encroachments of the Aztec empire for centuries, to the peaceful coexistence among Christians, Jews and Muslims in 12th-century Andalusia, which lit the spark for the European Renaissance a century later. We will also discuss how human ancestors seem to have maintained an egalitarian society for more than a million years. We will discuss what principles and strategies they used to organize their societies, how these societies came apart, and how their experience may inform our ideas of a just society today.
Dr. Mark Reimers works as a computational neuroscientist: he studies brain function by applying statistical methods to look for patterns in large-scale recordings of brain activity and behavior. He applies these methods to understand normal memory function and shed light on mental illness. Dr. Reimers has worked at the US National Institutes of Health, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics in Richmond, and now does research and teaches at Michigan State University. His broader aim is to ground our understanding of the mind in the facts of biology.
Dr. Reimers was the leader of the Richmond Humanists in Virginia for five years, and now leads the UU Forum in Lansing, and speaks frequently at humanist and science outreach events in Michigan.