Professor creates first ‘Stoic Week’

Published by adviser, Author: Daniel DiFabio, Date: November 5, 2015
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Different departments and organizations around campus worked together to host the first Stoic Week, which is an event that will consist of daily meditations and activities from November 2 through 6, and a panel on the 6 accompanied by a guest speaker on November 12.

The week was set up by Andrew Winters, Philosophy instructor, and is sponsored by the Philosophy Department, Philosophy Club and the History and Psychology Department.

The first annual Slippery Rock University Stoic Week will consist of daily meditations and activities from November 2 to the 6, and a panel on the 6 accompanied by a guest speaker on November 12.

Stoicism comes from ancient Greece, where stoics developed practices to overcome negative emotions, believing that if one had fewer negative emotions then they would be more content and more tranquil.

The week was set up by Dr. Andrew Winters, Philosophy instructor, and is sponsored by the Philosophy Department, Philosophy Club, History Department, Psychology Department, Transformational Experience and the Dean of College of Liberal Arts.

Winters took inspiration for the project from the University of Exeter in the U.K, where for the past few years he has been involved in their project. This includes publishing on the group’s blog and communicating with the organizers of the event. The blog is visited by others who participate in Stoic week, with people coming from Germany, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Japan the United Kingdom and all over the U.S. The blog has certain forums that SRU students can sign up for and then introduce themselves and reflect on the daily activities throughout Stoic week.

“Through the online format the students here can interact with people all over the world,” Winters said.

To participate in the ‘Live Like a Stoic for a Week’ events from November 2 through 6, students had to attend an information meeting Winters held. The group consisted of ten students from the philosophy and psychology departments who met throughout the week in the morning and went through daily meditations and activities. These meditations and activities come from the Stoic Week handbook, which can be found on the blog.

“The meditation group is a close-knit group,” Winters said. “I wanted the students who are already participating to feel comfortable and not have to worry about a stranger coming in all of a sudden on the last day when they’ve been doing a personal activity.”

While the meditation group only consists of those who attended the information meetings there is a Stoicism Panel on November 6 and two talks given by Dr. William B. Irvine, a professor of Philosophy at Wright State University, who is also a speaker at the event in the U.K.

The Stoicism panel is on November 6 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Spotts 111. The three speakers are Dr. Elizabeth Boerger, Psychology professor, Dr. Andrew Colvin, Philosophy professor and Dr. Carlis White, History professor. They will each discuss different aspects of stoicism, with Boerger making connections between stoicism and moral cultivation in children, Colvin discussing parallels with stoicism and eastern traditions and White talking about Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who adopted stoic practices while he was running from the empire.

Dr. Irvine’s Keynote Address, “Stoic Tests: A Study Guide” will be in Spots 111 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on November 12. Irvine will discuss various stoic techniques to overcome obstacles and how to confront them, even one’s own death.

The Author Meets Critics discussion, which will be November 12 in Spotts 117 from 5 p.m to 6 p.m., will allow audience members to question Irvine on his book. The book, “A Slap in the Face: Why Insults Hurt and Why They Shouldn’t”, discusses the nature of insults, including why people insult each other and how to respond to insults so they don’t ruin one’s day. Students can email Winters if they want to be involved, which will consist of them reading at least three chapters of the book and making a small write up of what they thought, with Dr. Irvine responding to critiques.

Winters hopes to have Stoic Week again next year and try to make it an annual event.

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