Philosophy Symposiums & Roundtables

2022 Philosophy Symposia Series

~ Winter & Fall ~


Our 2022 Philosophy Symposia Series focuses on two topics: military life & the ethics of war, and our relationship with nature.  Each symposia invites thought-provoking questions about the complex terrain of “being human together.” In Winter & Fall 2022, community members will have an opportunity to explore, discuss, and think critically about these topics and the questions they evoke with distinguished Humanities scholars from Montana and across the nation.  All symposia in the series will be free and open to the public and will involve a combination of speaker presentation and community discussion.

Winter 2022: Military Life & Ethics of War

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.

“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.

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.

“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.

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

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. 

For more information & to RSVP click on the community discussion buttons above!

Amskapi Pikuni (Blackfeet Nation) tribal member, and Aaniiih, Nakoda, Dakota tribal descent and an adventure explorer, photographer, videographer, writer, storyteller who travels throughout Montana to tell stories from an Indigenous perspective.

Lailani, grew up on the Blackfeet and Fort Belknap Indian reservations where she explored her home landscapes as a kid and got into trouble for taking off into the mountains (without notice) on “adventures.” She grew up hearing the stories and history of her tribal people and was grounded in identity through the passing down of oral traditions from her grandparents on both sides of her family and tribal lineage.

Read More About Lailani...

She says her experience and passion has led her to a closer connection to nature, likeminded storytellers, while vamping up a hunger to encourage others to tap into their voice through written and visual storytelling.

Lailani is on the board of directors for the Freeflow Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Missoula, Montana, that delivers opportunities for creativity, space, and access to wild places for writers, artists, and leaders of all backgrounds. She also is an advisory board member for The Common Ground Project, based in Yellowstone, Montana, that connects people from all walks of life to foster understanding of each other and the environment through campfire retreats.

Another added service was to Wild Montana as a Native Conservation fellow where she fostered Indigenous land-based story hikes to advocate for public land protection. She taught tribal story-based video courses at Salish Kootenai College, and is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Climate Change Advisory committee.

Upham works to capture stories that inspire people of all walks of life to consider their relationship with nature, while advocating the preservation of tribal stories and public lands.

Layered by outdoor travel adventures and lifestyle, Lailani hopes through her work to share her vision of wild places, Indigenous culture, untamed landscapes to inspire others to explore for themselves new understandings and relationships.

Her visionary perspective has earned her opportunities to work on an award-winning journalism team, “Framing a Movement – The Media at Standing Rock, Montana Journalism Review a Special Report;”and also an award-winning film documentary project, The Blackfeet Flood, and film shorts Sixty Four Flood. She created a hobby storytelling YouTube channel called, Pikuni Bigfoot Storytelling Project to gather tribal encounters and stories of Sasquatch.

She worked as a reporter and photojournalist at the Flathead Reservation tribal newspaper, Charkoosta News, where thousands of news articles have been published in the 10 year span.

Her production studio is based on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana.

But beyond all the career stacks, Lailani is most proud of her three children, Ryan, Joseph, and Ashley; and three adorable grandchildren. Holly, Iverson, and Zion.

Martin Ogle is an Educator, Wildlife Scientist, and former Chief Naturalist Emeritus for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, and founder of Entrepreneurial Earth.  He attained B.S. and M.S. degrees in Wildlife Science from Colorado State University and Virginia Tech, respectively.

Martin has served as an Instructor for Keystone Science School, Smithsonian Institute, and US Department of Agricultural Graduate School and has been recognized by Arlington Public Schools, Arlington County, and other organizations for outstanding contributions to the community.

He has a received a Green Innovation Award, Krupsaw Award for Non-Traditional Teaching, and an Arlington Green Patriot Award.

Martin is adept at bringing people together to advance sustainable living in creative, fun and successful ways.  His work is highly influenced by Gaia Theory — which Ogle has researched extensively and presents regularly on.

Read More About Martin...

Martin currently lives in Louisville, CO with his wife Lisa and twins, Cyrus and Linnea. 

Our Fall symposia will focus on our relationship with nature & will run from Friday, September 23rd – Sunday, September 25th.  Conversational & interactive in format, each symposia will cover different terrain in different places.

Featuring guest scholar Martin Ogle, MS (Educator, Wildlife Scientist & Chief Naturalist Emeritus for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority) & Lailani Upham, MA (Educator, Journalist, Storyteller, Environmentalist, Amskapi Pikuni (Blackfeet Nation) tribal member, and a descendent from the Aaniiih, Nakoda, and Dakota tribes). 

Each scholar will offer perspectives on our relationship with nature as viewed by Gaia Theory & Indigenous worldviews.  Both will involve discussions and reflections about the inter-connectivity of earth (and its inhabitants), mythology, science, literature, and ethics. 

(See our event calendar for program details)

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