Southwestern University Brown Symposium
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March 5-6, 2007

The Brown Symposium is presented by Southwestern University on an annual basis. Open to the public without charge, the symposium is funded through an endowment established by The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, Texas, for professorships at the University.

The symposia are designed to enhance the effectiveness of the work for which the endowed professorships were established. Each symposium presents topics in one of the broad areas of study represented by the chairholder.

“Who Do We Think We Are?!,” the 29th symposium in the series, has been developed by Laura Hobgood-Oster,
associate professor of religion, chair of the Religion and Philosophy Department and holder of the Elizabeth Root Paden Chair in Religion.

What are humans in relationship to the many other animals with whom we share the Earth? Religious and philosophical traditions alike have addressed this question in myriad ways and arrived at countless answers. Scientists and ethicists continually grapple with this problem as our choices and actions contribute to the extinction of species after species. While we often live in harmony with other animals, we also experiment on them, mass produce them for food, use them for entertainment and encroach on their habitats. We live constrained by the deep-seeded foundational dualism—“us” and “them”—that we are human and they are animals. But we are all animals, inexorably interconnected. So this symposium (re)asks, “Who Do We Think We Are?!”