By Chris Hearon
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Nine people huddled into three small rows of desks on Nov. 30, 2011 for two main reasons: to consider “The Ethics of the Internet” and to eat free pizza. The mixture of food and philosophy is common to the Camden County College club Owning Our Ignorance, which met from 1 to 3 p.m. in Madison 312. The discussion led to diverse topics such as Internet piracy, intellectual property and even quantum physics.
Sean Landis, the club advisor and founder, has been teaching philosophy at Camden County College for six years and has also taught philosophy courses at Rowan University, Burlington County College, Gloucester County College, Rider University and Thomas Jefferson University. Landis originally intended the group to “focus on practical advice to get better at learning.” The group present on Nov. 30 utilized some of the practical advice that they have acquired by discussing the vast range of topics with what Landis calls a “somewhat typical blend of insightful and funny comments.”
One feature of the meeting that defines the nature of the club was the atmosphere of an open-minded, informed sense of understanding. Robyn Giles, who has been a member and regular attendee of Owning Our Ignorance for five years, discusses this phenomenon of the group by stating that the members go into the discussion meetings “with the understanding that different people will have different ideas, but that nobody’s ideas will be attacked if they are presented in a respectful manner.”
A prime example of this feature in the club was when Blake Nelson, the moderator for the meeting, pointed out that digital piracy is leading the music industry to a place where their traditional methods for making profits are not as effective as they once were. This statement provided a springboard for the explanation of what Landis considers to be “the benefits of the collapse of the old music industry model post-Napster.”
On the whole, Owning Our Ignorance offers students a way to improve their learning skills by interacting with other students who are striving toward the same goal. The fact that this group is able to provide such a valuable experience to students is due to the efforts of its members, especially the efforts of Landis himself. Says Giles, it is extraordinary that “Sean Landis dedicates so much time to his students.” Landis explains this dedication by stating that “in fact, the real impetus for the club was just to give me an excuse to keep in touch with engaged students who were no longer in any of my classes.” Further, he encourages anyone who thinks that they might find the idea of owning their ignorance interesting to like the group at facebook.com/owningourignorance and to get into the discussion at one of the group’s meetings.