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Announcing the 2018 Herb and Karen Baum Symposium on Ethics and the Professions

October 23, 2017

*This article was updated February 5, 2018, to recognize the addition of keynote speakers Traci Blackmon and David Yepsen.

A Moral Political Vision for a Polarized Nation
keynote address by The New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow

March 22–24, 2018
Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa

Charles M. Blow, columnist for The New York Times, will deliver the keynote lecture during the Herb and Karen Baum Symposium on Ethics and the Professions, set for March 22-24, 2018.

The 2018 Herb and Karen Baum Symposium on Ethics and the Professions will examine the key moral responsibilities of members of the U.S. civic body, from various walks of professional life, in light of the current political climate. Scheduled for Thursday, March 22 through the morning of Saturday, March 24, 2018, the free symposium will feature keynote lectures by The New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Charles M. Blow, pastor and racial justice organizer Rev. Traci Blackmon, and Iowa political fixture David Yepsen.

The symposium also includes a diverse program of guest speakers and panel discussions, featuring thought leaders from a variety of professions and academic fields. Sessions will focus on topics related to media, politics, business, education, and activism.

“This is a time of heightened political polarization, in which citizens of all backgrounds and political viewpoints find themselves in distress—be it over what they see as a devolving commitment to truth and facts; violations of longstanding expectations of ethics in private life and in public office; or the rhetoric around communities of color, immigrant groups, and religious minorities,” said Jennifer Harvey, Herb and Karen Baum Chair of Ethics at Drake University. “The 2018 Baum Symposium creates a space and environment for constructive dialogue. Participants will examine important questions through presentations and workshops by some of the nation’s most respected leaders and scholars.”

Charles M. Blow will speak at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 22. He is best known for his newspaper columns tackling hot-button issues such as social justice, racial equality, presidential politics, police violence, gun control, and the Black Lives Matter movement. He is also a CNN commentator; recently served as a presidential visiting professor at Yale University, where he taught a seminar on media and politics; and is author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling memoir, Fire Shut Up in My Bones.

Traci Blackmon

Rev. Traci Blackmon will speak at 5 p.m. Friday, March 23. She is executive minister of justice and witness ministries of the United Church of Christ and senior pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Mo. She is a featured voice in many regional, national, and international media outlets, and was recognized for her communal leadership in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown, Jr., in Ferguson, Mo. A registered nurse with more than 25 years of healthcare experience, her focused shifted in recent years to mobile healthcare in underserved communities. She has launched several signature initiatives, including "Healthy Mind, Body, and Spirit," and "Souls to the Polls STL."

David Yepsen

David Yepsen will speak at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 24. He is host of Iowa Public Television's weekly "Iowa Press" public affairs program. Prior to joining the program, he had a 34-year career with The Des Moines Register as the paper's chief political writer, political editor and political columnist, covering Iowa and presidential campaigns from 1976 to 2009. He served as director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale from 2009 to 2016.

The Herb and Karen Baum Symposium on Ethics and the Professions is free and open to the public (made possible through a generous donation from Herb, BN’58, and Karen Baum). Additional support for the 2018 Symposium is provided by the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement and the Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University. Registration information and additional details are available online at http://baumsymposium4ethics.wp.drake.edu.

About The Baum Symposium

The Herb and Karen Baum Symposium on Ethics and the Professions is held every three years, and is open to the public. It’s designed to engage in careful and collaborative scrutiny of a contemporary issue of ethics that impacts communities and leaders in the worlds of business, education, journalism, law and other professional fields.

The Symposium is made possible through the generous support of Herb (BN’58) and Karen Baum, whose generous commitment also provides funding for the Herb and Karen Baum Chair of Ethics and the Professions, a prestigious faculty position that guides Drake University students in developing a firmly grounded personal commitment to the highest standards of ethics and ethical decision-making.

Herb and Karen Baum are dedicated philanthropists whose support has greatly benefited Drake University. Their gift was inspired by Herb Baum’s long-time passion: ethics in business. Herb Baum is the retired chairman, president, and CEO of the Dial Corporation and the author of The Transparent Leader: How to Build a Great Company through Straight Talk, Openness and Accountability. He has devoted much of his retirement to promoting ethical behavior within the industry.