Saint Martin’s students will present at University of Oregon philosophy conference

November 8, 2010

Lacey, Washington — Two Saint Martin's students, Stevi Garness '11 and Pam Sowers '11, have been invited and will be speaking at the upcoming Ninth Biennial of Radical Philosophy Association (RPA) Conference, held this year at the University of Oregon in Eugene, from November 11-14.

This year's theme is "Violence: Systemic, Symbolic, and Foundational." Violence penetrates deeply into our contemporary consciousness and it permeates our everyday experience, from films to video games to dreams. Among the questions being addressed at this conference include: What is violence? What kinds of violence are there? How do systems of oppression perpetuate or institute violence? What role does violence play in human psychology and social structures?

In her paper, titled “Warfare Past Reason: The Use of Rape as a Weapon against the Women and Children of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Garness raises awareness about crimes against women in this war-torn country, where rape is routinely deployed as a type of combat. Her goal is to engage political action to end these crimes against humanity. In “Corruption in the Museum: Violence for the Sake of Learning?”, Sowers discusses the morality of anatomical displays designed for profit, and the rights of prisoners and others to determine the use and disposition of their remains. The paper shows how these “bodies” exhibits are rife with human rights violations. Garness is a double major in psychology and sociology/cultural anthropology. Sowers is also a double major, majoring in English and philosophy.

Both Garness and Sowers are non-traditional students who discovered strong interests in philosophy since coming to Saint Martin’s. Their mentor, Father David E. Pratt, is an assistant professor in the Saint Martin’s philosophy department. At the RPA conference, Pratt will be conducting a workshop on sexual objectification and the feminist philosopher Martha Nussbaum, as well as leading a panel discussion on violence and film.

For more information, contact Father David Pratt, assistant professor of philosophy, at 360-438-4309 or For more information about this conference, visit

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, Catholic, coeducational university located on a 380-acre wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 18 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 22 majors and six graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Everett College, Centralia College, and Tacoma Community College.