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Grounded: A Live Theater & Community Discussion Series — The Military Experience and Culture & the Ethics of War and Autonomous Warfare

February 27, 2022 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm MST

Our Winter symposia consists of two community conversations about military life & the ethics of war.  The discussions will take place at The Helena Avenue Theater, in conjunction with a live theater performance called “Grounded” by Raven’s Feather Productions (RFP). Starring local actress Katy Wright, Grounded is a monologue-style play that revolves around a female drone pilot as she struggles with the realities of combat & strife, at home and abroad. 

Given the play’s focus & a shared interest in offering opportunities for the community to think together, we teamed up with its producer & director to offer discussions around some of the deeply human issues that the play presents.  The result: two free symposia on the first and second weekends of the play’s launch.

Both symposia will involve a combination of presentation and discussion and will be structured in ways that allow for free-flowing conversation and questions. People of all ages and backgrounds are invited to participate.  

Community members do not need to see the live performance in order to participate in or benefit from the conversations.  

What Our Symposia Will Explore

Our philosophy symposia will involve a combination of presentation and dialogue/Q & A inspired by the questions/topics raised in the live performance:

  • The Military Experience & Culture: The first symposium led by Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Elizabeth Barrs – Instructor of Veteran’s Studies at Missoula College and Humanities MT speaker –will explore perspectives on community, military culture & conflict as experienced and lived by active-duty members and veterans, family members of active-duty and veterans, and the community at large.  The community discussion will take place on Sunday, February 20th from 2pm-4pm.
  • The Ethics of War & Autonomous Weapons Systems: The second symposium led by Major Hunter Cantrell – Active duty member of the U.S. Army and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at U.S. Military Academy West Point — will explore the ethics of war and autonomous weapons systems.  (Major Cantrell will be presenting as a civilian while on personal leave.).  The community discussion will take place on Sunday, February 27th from 2pm-4pm.

People of all ages and backgrounds are invited to participate. Community members do not need to see the live performance in order to participate in or benefit from the conversations.

Performance & Symposium Dates

  • Show Dates: February 17th, 2022 – March 6th, 2022 (Thurs/Fri/Sat) – For more show information visit Raven’s Feather Productions
  • Community Discussion Date(s): Sunday, Feb. 20th & Sunday, Feb, 27th (2pm-4pm MT)

Live Performance Trailers

Sun. February 20th

“The Military Experience & Culture”

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Elizabeth Barrs

Retired Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Army, Instructor of Veteran’s Studies at Missoula College, and Humanities MT Speaker

About Lieutenant Colonel Barrs

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Elizabeth Barrs was commissioned as a Military Intelligence Officer in 1987 through Army ROTC at Loyola University of Chicago. In her nearly 21-year active-duty career, she served in command and staff positions ranging from platoon leader and company commander to the senior intelligence officer in infantry and armored divisions. She served in combat in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. She deployed in support of humanitarian operations after Hurricane Andrew and peace operations for Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti. She was also a Senior Duty Officer on the National Security Council staff in the White House Situation Room.

LTC Barrs retired from active duty in October 2008. Since August 2013 she helped develop the Veterans Studies curriculum at Eastern Kentucky University and more recently at the University of Montana. She is currently a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Montana. Elizabeth Barrs is from the Big Island of Hawaii and lives in Missoula, Montana.

Sun. February 27th

“Ethics of War & Autonomous Weapons Systems”

Major Hunter Cantrell

Philosopher, Assistant Professor at U.S. Military Academy West Point, and active duty member of the U.S. Army

About Major Cantrell

Major Hunter Cantrell graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 2010, commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Transportation Corps, and currently serves as a Multifunctional Logistics Officer. Hunter is originally from Richmond, Virginia but also grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina. While at the Virginia Military Institute he majored in International Studies and Political Science with a Minor in Writing.

Hunter was stationed at Fort Eustis, VA with the 690th Rapid Port Opening Element. While in the 690th RPOE he served as a Distribution Platoon Leader and the Operations Officer. While serving in the 690th RPOE, Hunter was selected as the 2011 Surface Deployment and Distribution Commands MG Henry Del Mar Junior Officer of the Year. He then moved to the 833rd Transportation Battalion, 597th Transportation Brigade staff to serve as the Assistant S3 for Training. From there, Hunter was assigned to the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas. In the summer of 2015 he assumed command of the Golf Forward Support Company, supporting the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment. Hunter deployed with his unit to the Korean Peninsula.

Upon redeployment from Korea, Hunter attended graduate school from 2017-2019 at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Philosophy. His thesis was “Arguments for Banning Autonomous Weapon Systems: A Critique.” His thesis took the First Inamori Center for Ethics and Excellence, Best Military Thesis Competition, 2019.

Hunter also has a Master’s Degree in Intelligence Studies with a concentration in Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.  His scholarly interests include the ethics of autonomous weapon systems, the interaction of claim rights on the battlefield, military ethics (broadly construed), and social/political philosophy.

Hunter has been married to Tiffany Cantrell since December 2012 and is the father of Holden (7) and Bryson (5).

Major Cantrell has the following articles published or forthcoming:

  • “Arguments for Banning Autonomous Weapon Systems: A Critique,” International Journal of Ethical Leadership, July 2021
  • “Tolerating the Intolerable: A Method to Prevent Radicalization,” Forthcoming in a Concerned Philosophers for Peace Annotated Volume (In production)
  • “The Keys to Success for a Forward Support Company at the National Training Center,”  Army  Sustainment Magazine, March-April 2018

Major Cantrell has presented at the following conferences:

  • International Society of Military Ethics, US Division, July 2021
  • Computer Ethics Philosophical Enquiry and International Association for Computing and Philosophy Joint Conference, July 2021
  • Society of Philosophy and Technology, June 2021
  • International Society of Military Ethics, European Division, May 2019 and June 2021
  • Association for Practical and Professional Ethics- 2018, 2019, and 2020
  • Manchester Center for Political Theory Annual Conference, September 2020
  • Concerned Philosophers for Peace Annual Conference, October 2018
  • Ecumenical Council of the Church of Norway, June 2019

When & Where

Program Details

Show Dates: Feb 17th -March 6th 2022 (Thurs. – Sat. Evenings)

Community Discussion Dates: Sun. Feb. 20th & 27th (2pm-4pm)

Location: Helena Avenue Theater

*Limited Seating:  Approx. 75-90 people per show and symposium

Ticket Info

Theater Tickets: Available through Raven’s Feather Productions – Show Tickets

Community Symposia Tickets: FREE  — Join the guestlist here!


Make a Donation Here

Our philosophy symposia are FREE.  That said, for those who still have the steady income to do so, we could really use your financial support right now.  Donations help to cover symposia honoraria, implementation, resource archiving, and more!  You can make a donation by clicking here or on the button above. We greatly appreciate your generosity and kindness & for helping us keep programs like these going!

For those facing more challenging financial circumstances, we ask that you please try to “pay it forward” with acts of kindness for your neighbors and community. 

Thank You to Our Grantors & Community Sponsors


Helena Avenue Theater
1319 Helena Avenue
Helena, MT 59602 United States
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