Ethics in Action Podcast


Report from Kyiv: A Conversation with Journalist Alisa Sopova

We continue our series on the war in Ukraine. In this episode Vlado and I talk to journalist and anthropologist Alisa Sopova about what everyday life feels  like in Ukraine as the war passes the 100 day mark. We discuss the regional differences in how the conflict is perceived, we ask whether Ukrainians have different views about Russian politicians and ordinary Russians, and we also talk about how Ukrainians perceive assistance from the west.  

Alisa Sopova is an independent journalist from Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. She worked as a journalist and a news editor for the largest local newspaper, Donbass. When the war broke out, she was faced with the challenge of reporting on violence in her own city. With the local journalism collapsing, she began working for international media, including The New York Times and Time magazine where her coverage focused on the war and its humanitarian impact. Alisa is an author and co-founder of a #5Kfromthefrontline project ( that aims to bring to light everyday experiences of civilian life at the frontlines. Alisa holds a BA in journalism from Moscow State University and an MA in Regional Studies from Harvard University. She is currently working on a doctorate in anthropology at Princeton.

Links to some of Alisa's pieces:



Reading Between The Lines in Russia and Ukraine: A Conversation with Ambassador Vesko Garcevic

We continue our series on the war in Ukraine.  Our guest is Vesko Garcevic, former ambassador of Montenegro to NATO, OSCE, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Vesko is currently Professor of the Practice of International Relations at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University.

We talk about what it means to diplomatically engage with Russia and whether it makes sense to think of it as a pariah state. We also take up some misconceptions about the role of NATO expansion in precipitating the current war. 


Making Russia Great Again?

Vladimir Putin wants to put Russia back on the map as a great power. But what does it even mean to be a great power in the nuclear age? Is that idea still coherent? If it is, can Russia be such a power? And how is Putin using history to frame this quest? What does his framing reveal about him and about contemporary Russia?


The second in a series of conversations with historian Vladimir Petrovic about the implications of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 




Empires Strike Back - Did the “Balance of Power” Just Make a Comeback?: A Conversation with Vladimir Petrovic

For a while, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, we could tell ourselves that the American-led liberal internationalist order was on the rise. That story had some big holes in it, but if we squinted a bit it was almost believable. Not "the end of history", but maybe a long vacation from it. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, its insistence on declaring a “sphere of influence” free from western intervention, and its alliance with China change everything.
Within a few weeks an older picture of international order - where great powers check each other and make sure none becomes ascendant - reemerged. Is the Balance of Power Back? Did it ever really go away? And if it is back, what’s next?

Vladimir Petrović  is a senior research fellow at the UMB Applied Ethics Center, and a senior researcher at the Institute for Contemporary History in Belgrade where he heads the Digital Center. He researches mass political violence and strategies of confrontation with its legacy. He studied contemporary history (Faculty of Belgrade: BA and MPhil) and Comparative history of Central and Southeastern Europe (Central European University: MA and PhD), completing his postgraduate studies at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Amsterdam. He has taught at Boston University and was a recurrent visiting professor at Central European University.

Petrović’s doctoral project which started at CEU, evolved over the time into a book The Emergence of Historical Forensic Expertise: Clio takes the Stand (Routledge, 2017). It examines the role of historians and social scientists as expert witnesses in some of the most dramatic legal encounters of the 20th century. Petrovic was exploring this intersection between history and law, both in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and in the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office. Petrović published extensively on ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and attempts to undo its legacy, as well as on the history of nonalignment during the Cold War and the collapse of Yugoslavia. He is currently working on the discursive history of mass violence.



School Integrations and Equal Education: A Conversation with Larry Blum

How should we understand efforts at school integration? And how are they related to the idea of equal education? Larry and I consider different historical understandings of integration and the problematic idea of integration as a vehicle for gaining social capital. Larry and Zoë Burkholder just published Integrations: The Struggle for Racial Equality and Civic Renewal in Public Education. 

Larry is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, and Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston. You can find out more about his experience teaching a course on race and racism to Cambridge High School students by reading his High Schools, Race, and America's Future: What Students Can Teach Us About Morality, Diversity, and Community

And Larry’s website is here


Harvard‘s Galileo Project: A Conversation with Avi Loeb

The New York Times 2017 front page story about UAP's (Unexplained Aerial Phenomena) spotted by Navy pilots, and the recent report to Congress by The Office of the Director of National Intelligence have generated tremendous public interest. I talk to Professor Avi Loeb about Harvard's new Galileo Project. We discuss what it means to explore UAP's scientifically, his reasons for pursuing this work, and about the academic community's reluctance to engage with these questions. 

Avi Loeb, an Astrophysicist, is the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science and former chair of the department of Astronomy at Harvard. He is Director of the Institute for Theory and Computation (ITC) , the Founding Director of the Black Hole Initiative (BHI), Chair, Breakthrough Starshot Advisory Committee ,and Chair Board on Physics and Astronomy, National Academies . Avi has authored nearly 700 research articles and written 4 books, most recently Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond EarthHe has held appointments at the institute for Advanced Study in Princeton as well as in the Weizmen Institute and at Tel Aviv University in Israel. 


Institutional Corruption and Psychiatric Drugs: A Conversation with Lisa Cosgrove

What happens when the ties between the people who study psychiatric drugs and the companies who make them become too cozy? A discussion with UMass Boston psychology professor Lisa Cosgrove. 


Lisa Cosgrove, PhD is a Clinical Psychologist and Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston where she teaches courses on psychiatric diagnosis and psychopharmacology. She was a Research Fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University (2010-2015) and served as a consultant to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, child psychiatrist Dainius Puras. Lisa and her studentsconduct research that broadly aims to shift the current biomedical paradigm and integrate a human rights approach in mental health policies and practices. Specifically,her research addresses 1) the ethical and medical-legal issues that arise in organized psychiatry because of academic-industry relationships and 2) the ways in which commercialized science reinforces epistemic injustice and undermines an appreciation for the moral and political context of physical and emotional suffering.  She is co-author, with Bob Whitaker, of Psychiatry under the influence: Institutional corruption, social injury and prescriptions for reform. Her recent publications have addressed the ethical issues that arise with the use of digital phenotyping and digital psychotropic drugs.

For information on Professor Cosgrove's work on institutional corruption as a fellow at Harvard's Safra Centre see here


My Favorite Passage: A conversation with Adam Beresford about Iliad, Book 24


Adam and I discuss the famous, moving passage at the end of the Iliad describing the meeting between Achilles and Priam. We talk quite a bit about Achilles' curious account of how Zeus determines humans' fate by doling out happenings from jars of joy and misfortune. 


Adam Beresford teaches philosophy and classics at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He has just published a translation of Aristotle's Ethics which you can (and should!) buy here and you can learn more about Adam's work here.

Here is a version of book 24 of the Iliad in case you want to read it for yourself. 



A Three-Way Peace Deal in the Middle East: A Conversation with Ehud Eiran

Israel has signed normalization agreements with the UAE and Bahrain. These are the first Middle East peace agreements in two and a half decades. Why now? What does each of the main actors in this drama stand to gain from these accords? Can Middle East diplomacy really bypass the Israeli Palestinian conflict as these agreements attempt to do?  And does the deal signal a new alignment of power in the region? 

Dr. Ehud (Udi) Eiran is a Senior Lecturer (US Associate Professor) of International Relations, University of Haifa, Israel, and an (active!) Board member at Mitvim – a leading Israeli think tank. He is also a senior fellow at the center for the Research of Intelligence Methodology.  Dr. Eiran directed the University of Haifa’s center for national security, and was one of the co-founders of its center for maritime strategy. He also served as the academic director of Israel’s National Security College, (on behalf of the University). Dr. Eiran held research appointments at Harvard Law School, Harvard's Kennedy School, and Stanford’s Department of Political Science, and was a visiting lecturer in the Department of Political Science at MIT. Prior to his academic career Dr. Eiran held a number of positions in the Israeli civil service including as Assistant to the Prime Minister's Foreign Policy Advisor. He is the author of two books and some fifty scholarly articles, book chapters, and policy briefs, as well as numerous op-eds mostly in American and Israeli outlets. His research interests include spatial technological and legal aspects of international conflict (mostly in the Arab-Israeli context), negotiation and conflict resolution, maritime strategy, and intelligence studies.     

Udi is currently a visiting scholar at Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and a visiting professor of Israel studies at UC Berkley. 


Civic Dialogue in a Polarized Society: A Conversation With Lauren Barthold

The US seems more polarized than it's been in decades. Can we communicate across ideological and political chasms? What does it mean to have a dialogue with someone we profoundly, even vehemently disagree with? If we do have such a dialogue, does it make us any less polarized? Do the effects last?  We talk with Professor Barthold about her new book: Overcoming Polarization in the Public Square: Civic Dialogue

Lauren Swayne Barthold (PhD, Philosophy) teaches Ethics at Emerson College and is also co-founder and program developer of the Heathmere Center for Cultural Engagement, whose mission is to build stronger communities through empowering marginalized voices. She has taught philosophy at Endicott College, Haverford College and Gordon College, where she co-founded and co-directed the gender studies minor. Overcoming Polarization in the Public Square: Civic Discourse, is her third book.  

Some additional resources:




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