Thinking about the Unthinkable & Talking about the Tough Stuff Making Sense of Nuclear Weapons & Other Big Issues That Confront Us

Date:  Sunday March 9, 2008
Speaker:  George Cheney
representing a group including Lou Borgenicht, Mary Dickson, Danielle Endres, and Annette Rose

George Cheney is Professor of Communication, Director of Peace and Conflict Studies, and Director of the Barbara and Norman Tanner Human Rights Center, at the University of Utah. His Ph.D. dissertation (Purdue University, 1985) focused on the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ 1983 pastoral letter on nuclear arms. He came to Utah in 2002, after having held faculty positions at the universities of Illinois, Colorado and Montana. George has taught, lectured and conducted research in Europe, Latin America, and New Zealand. George has authored or co-authored six books, including the award-winning Values at Work, a study of worker co-ops in the Basque region of Spain, and over 80 articles and chapters. He is at work on three more books: Just a Job? Communication, Ethics, and Professional Life; The International Communication Association Handbook of Communication Ethics; and A Rhetoric for Peace.

Today’s overwhelming issues include nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and the war on terror, global warming or climate change, epidemics, immigration, and global poverty and economic disparity. Many of us feel paralyzed or fearful in even contemplating these issues. In fact, most citizens simply avoid the issues altogether or occasionally trivialize or joke about them.

This Utah Humanities Council Public Square presentation uses the issue of nuclear weapons as entrée into a broader examination of “unthinkable” and “non-discussible” issues. In fact, “nukes” are once again on the minds of the citizens of Utah as well as for others around the United States, an issue largely dormant from the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 until just the past couple of years.

“We, the group of five who offer this presentation and discussion, wish to revitalize and enhance the public discussion and debate in Utah surrounding nuclear weapons and, by extension, encourage people to think and talk about other issues that vex us. Hopefully, this treatment of nuclear arms and the call to confront other pressing issues can be part of an ongoing democratic conversation in Utah.”

For suggested references and resources, see archieves –