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Husson University’s 2017 Ethics Symposium Examines Moral Fundamentalism and Sustainability

Published on: February 2, 2017

Steve Fesmirein

BANGOR, MAINE - As citizens of a democracy, Americans seem to face a series of intractable problems associated with environmental sustainability. One of the major obstacles to implementing solutions is deep partisan and ideological divisiveness. We can’t seem to agree on what constitutes “the right thing to do.” 

This year, Husson University’s Ethics Symposium will examine this issue as part of a presentation by Dr. Steven A. Fesmire, professor of philosophy and environmental studies at Green Mountain College in Vermont. His lecture, “Rescuing Democracy from Moral Fundamentalism: How Moral Certainty is a Roadblock to Sustainability,” will take place at the Gracie Theatre on Monday, February 6, 2017 from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. The presentation is free and open to the public.

“Dr. Fesmire is a great example of a long line of American pragmatic thinkers going back to William James and John Dewey,” said Cliff Guthrie, Ph.D., a professor of ethics and humanities at Husson University’s College of Science and Humanities. “Like these other thinkers, he argues that we should view our moral disagreements more like practical everyday problems, and that Americans are great at using their imaginations to come up with new solutions to practical problems.”  

The lecture will focus on the challenges created in democratic societies by moral fundamentalism – a disposition to believe that there is only one right way to think about and solve moral or political problems. Fesmire will then go on to discuss ways to deal with moral fundamentalism so that democracies can successfully address the tangled local, bioregional, and global problems that prevent our lives from becoming healthier, more just, and more sustainable.

Fesmire is the author of Dewey (Routledge Press, 2015), winner of the 2015 Choice “Outstanding Academic Title” award. He is also the author of John Dewey and Moral Imagination: Pragmatism in Ethics (Indiana University Press, 2003) and the winner of the 2005 Choice “Outstanding Academic Title” award. 

In addition, Fesmire is the editor of the Oxford Handbook of Dewey (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2017) and is preparing a manuscript titled Ecological Imagination: Essays in Pragmatism, Ethics, and Education. He was a 2009 Fulbright Scholar at Kyoto University and Kobe University in Japan, a 2015-16 visiting scholar at Dartmouth College, and a 2016 fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

“Beyond teaching practical career-related knowledge, Husson University is committed to education that helps us better understand ourselves and our society,” said Dr. Patricia Bixel, dean of the College of Science and Humanities. “In the face of global warming and serious partisan division, we struggle to address environmental problems. Perhaps a more pragmatic approach can help us make progress toward solving some of these issues.”

If you would like more information about the upcoming presentation, or if you need to talk to someone about special arrangement or accommodations, please contact Cliff Guthrie, professor of ethics and humanities at or 207 941-7760.

For more than 100 years, Husson University has prepared future leaders to handle the challenges of tomorrow through innovative undergraduate and graduate degrees. With a commitment to delivering affordable classroom, online and experiential learning opportunities, Husson University has come to represent superior value in higher education. Our Bangor campus and off-campus satellite education centers in Southern Maine, Wells, and Northern Maine provide advanced knowledge in business; health and education; pharmacy studies; science and humanities; as well as communication. In addition, Husson University has a robust adult learning program. For more information about educational opportunities that can lead to personal and professional success, visit

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