Interview with Bioethicist Deepak Sarma

Dr. Deepak Sarma is the Professor of Indian Religions and Philosophy at CWRU, and is the author of several books on Hinduism and Indian philosophy. After earning a BA in religion from Reed College, Sarma attended the University of Chicago Divinity School, where he received a PhD in the philosophy of religions. His current reflections concern cultural theory, racism, and post-colonialism.

We asked Dr. Sarma a few questions about the current coronavirus pandemic and how he sees it from a bioethical lens.

I taught a class, “Hindu a Jain Bioethics” (RLGN/ ETHS 353), and many of my thoughts on COVID-19 derive from the wonderful conversations I had with those students. I am grateful to them for their reflections and for transforming my way of thinking about Hindu and Jain bioethics. 

How is COVID-19 impacting your current, and potentially future, work as a bioethicist?

COVID-19 has impacted my work as a bioethicist. The current bioethical conversation, even at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), has embraced what it believes to be a secular and universal bioethics. Religion, by and large—and especially Hinduism—does not play much into these conversations. So Hindu bioethics—which could contribute to these conversions—has been, to some degree, sidelined. In spite of this, Hindu perspectives on disease and cultural distance seem to play an especially important role today, when it is no longer advisable to shake hands with fellow human beings. 

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Discussions Announcement for Fall 2020

Dear Discussions Readers, 

I am writing to all of you to outline what and how Discussions will tackle publishing during the coronavirus pandemic. First and foremost, I hope that all of you and your families are staying safe during this pandemic, and continue to in the coming days. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Discussions will not have full access to all the publishing technology necessary to construct a fully featured journal. For the upcoming semester, Discussions will continue to accept publication submissions. If accepted, our Editorial Board will work with authors to ensure online publication at the end of the semester, where Discussions staff will compile all the accepted articles for online publication, until this pandemic ends. This also applies for any already accepted publications. As a preview of what is to come, we will publish a recent interview with Dr. Deepak Sarma of the Case Western Reserve University Department of Religious Studies, where he talks about Hinduism, bioethics, and COVID-19. Discussions will continue to accept submissions for online publication, and we encourage you to submit for the fall issue. If any questions remain, please email Discussions at Thank you all again for reading this announcement, and I wish you all the best in the upcoming days. 


Zahin Islam 

Editor in Chief, Discussions

Discussions with Kevin Kwock

The following is the record of an interview with 4th year CWRU student Kevin Kwock. He’s currently working on his B.S.E. Engineering Physics and music performance degree, B.A. Music – Piano and Harpsichord

1. Can you take me through what research you’ve done/ are currently working on?

I am currently working with Dr. Kash and Dr. Chottiner on a research project regarding crystal ordering in ternary semiconductors. Specifically, ZnSnSb2 has interesting crystal structure near its phase transition temperature; understanding the anion-cation ordering of semiconductors may provide new insights into other families of ternary semiconductors in the same class. In addition to my university research, some of my previous research has been on studying self-assembling ionic liquids and how we can adapt these unique assembled structures to photonic applications.

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Discussions with an Undergraduate Researcher

The following is the record of an interview with 4th year CWRU student Tori Hamilton. She’s getting ready to graduate with her degree in Sociology:

Can you take me through what research you’ve done/ are currently working on?

Last semester I completed my capstone project titled “Restaurants, Re-Entry, and Recidivism: A Qualitative Analysis of Cleveland’s Re-Entry Programs,” which was a series of interviews I conducted with individuals working on re-entry programs as well as hiring formerly incarcerated people. In total, I interviewed two individuals working in Cleveland for culinary training programs that work with formerly/currently incarcerated individuals, and two employers in the area–one of which runs a restaurant. I looked to better understand the roles that these programs took on, and how they functioned within Cleveland’s community. Continue reading “Discussions with an Undergraduate Researcher”