Fall Conference 2016

Science, Medical Ethics, Race, Mechanists, Vitalists, and Selfish Genes– all came together at the Tampa Bay Great Books Council’s 2016 Fall Conference  on Friday, September 16th.  Some two dozen Great Books aficionados from Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Sarasota Counties, gathered at the Seminole Heights Branch Library, one of the newest and brightest structures in the Hillsborough County Library System.

Inside the Seminole Public Library, Tampa
Inside the Seminole Heights Public Library, Tampa

The Conference started with the entire group discussing the landmark text by Rebecca Skloot, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” under the direction of Patrick De Marco, principal moderator for the Tampa Bay Great Books Council.  Key points in the discussion included the nature of “informed consent” and medical experimentation in general, with input from one member of the group who had actually worked with HeLa cells in her Ph.D. and post-Doctoral studies and another who has served a panel reviewing adherence to ethical procedures during medical research studies.

The lunch break featured a sumptuous buffet of hot and cold creations prepared by the attendees, and designed to build energy for the afternoon discussions.

With Cath Mason moderating one of the two afternoon breakout sessions (and Patrick DeMarco the other), the groups dove into two of the more complex essays we’ve dealt with at recent conferences: Richard Dawkins’ “The Selfish Gene” and Stephen Jay Gould’s “Just in the Middle.”  As typically happens, the group discussions seemed to diverge in terms of focus, with one breakout group pondering the nature of “self” and “selfishness” and the other dealing with issues of “spirituality” and “religiosity,” among others.

Thanks to our moderators (Patrick and Cath), our event organizers (led by Sara Cohen), and for our inspiration in selecting the topic, Joel Fyvolent, who was unable to attend to see his idea for a discussion topic come to fruition!  We missed you, Joel, but we’ll see you up and around soon!

Save the date for the 2017 Tampa Bay Great Books Annual Conference — January 28-29, 2017.  Preliminary details at the Tampa Great Books Facebook page and website, and more information coming shortly!