Center for Cognition and Neuroethics


The Center for Cognition and Neuroethics (CCN) is a joint venture between the Philosophy Department at the University of Michigan-Flint and the Insight Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience (IINN).

CCN supports interdisciplinary ventures with the conviction that the skills and knowledge that individuals from different disciplines and professions bring to a partnership enrich and inform the others, thereby creating unique, synergistic research that would not be possible in an isolated disciplinary environment.


Dr. Shah on CCN

In an interview by the University of Michigan-Flint, Dr. Jawad Shah, neurosurgeon, CCN Co-Director and Advisory Board Member, and President of the Insight Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience (IINN), discusses the creation of CCN.


What We Do

CCN breaks down barriers that exist between scholarly disciplines and that surround professions. We support research activities across multiple fields and professions by creating, fostering, and supporting collaborations and communication across student and professional spheres. From opening doors for students to advancing careers of professionals, from working with local clinicians to collaborating with scholars around the world, our activities set in motion intellectual and creative growth that will have long-lasting and valuable impact.


Our Mission is to inspire students and professionals to challenge and transform ideas, to provide valuable communal and research spaces, to provide the point of interaction that create opportunities for connections, collaborations and partnerships, and to connect sympathetic scholars, policy makers, activists, artists, teachers and students throughout the world.

Underlying all CCN operations is one simple question: is there a better way? In everything we do, we seek out and implement better approaches to help us achieve CCN’s goals efficiently and to optimally support the efforts of our project partners.


Our Projects


Ethics and the Brain

Scientific progress raises a myriad of difficult questions about our place in the world, human purposes and values, and the legitimacy of educational, social, legal, medical and political policies that both assume and affect human abilities, choices, and actions. CCN organizes projects that bring together scholars and thinkers from all fields, professions and disciplines to explore the complex relationship between what research is telling us about how humans work and the implications of founding social policies on scientific claims.

At their most fundamental level, humans form values and make choices. Understanding the values they have and the choices they make requires understanding how we experience ourselves and our world which, in turn, requires that we more fully understand how how humans think, reason, deliberate, and perceive. 

In particular, CCN’s Ethics and the Brain Project organizes and supports events that address the following topics: 

  • pain and suffering, medical treatments and research foci
  • health and well-being, healthcare policies practices 
  • values, goods and rights, moral education and development
  • reasoning and deliberation, counseling and therapy
  • sensation, perception and experience
  • memory, identity and self-awareness
  • moral accountability and legal responsibility, state punishment and penal policies
  • learning, educational structures and policies 
  • creativity, literary, artistic and musical invention and expression
  • beauty, appreciation, express 

Benedicte Veillet
Ethics and the Brain Project Director

Ethical Urban Living

Urban areas are towns, cities, and suburbs that feature high population densities situated in a built-up physical landscape. Within these spaces, social policies and legal institutions have a dramatic effect on the way we are able to live our lives, from quality of water, air and food issues to employment, educational and cultural opportunities and experiences; from matters of public and private health, safety and security to the expression of justice, liberty and freedom. Thus urban areas are the perfect place to see both how practices, both just and unjust, well-reasoned and ill-conceived, take effect.

Situated in Flint, MI, CCN and the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village take seriously that policy decisions and social practices, both historical and current, have dramatically shaped and controlled the lives of individuals living in urban settings.

We bring together community members, researchers, academics and scholars as well as artists, performers, therapists, clinicians, policy-makers and educators to discover, implement, and advocate for social policies and practices, both locally and nationally, that will realize fairer, more just, and more equitable opportunities for all who live together in modern urban environments.

Through our organizational structure, programming, publications, and advocacy work we seek to center and amplify the voices of individuals who have been historically marginalized and systematically excluded from public policy decision making processes. In particular, we seek to amplify the voices of:

  • Native Americans, African Americans, Latinx Americans, and other historically marginalized groups of color
  • Immigrants and refugees
  • Low income individuals and families
  • The currently and formerly homeless
  • The currently and formerly incarcerated and individuals impacted by the criminal justice system
  • Sex workers
  • Religious and ethnic minorities
  • Individuals with mental health conditions
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Other groups who have been excluded from social policy decision making in urban spaces. 

Erica Britt
Ethical Urban Living Project Director


CCN Publications