Center for Cognition and Neuroethics


Who We Are


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


What We Do

CCN promotes both the exploration of the conceptual foundations of the neurosciences and the careful study of the legal, political, social and ethical implications of their advances. We are committed to breaking down barriers that exist not only between scholarly disciplines but 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 student seminars, academic conferences, and professional publications have set in motion events that will have long-lasting and valuable impact.


Our Mission is to inspire students and professionals to examine, challenge and transform ideas to provide necessary research spaces and resources, to provide the point of interaction to create opportunities for connections, collaborations and partnerships, and to connect sympathetic scholars, lawmakers, clinicians, researchers and professionals throughout the world.

Underlying all CCN operations is one simple question: is there a better way? From conferences to publications and from administration to technology, 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

The progress of neuroscience has raised difficult questions about choice, free will and moral responsibility. We explore belief formation and action concerns moral and ethical responsibility, issues which in turn poses significant challenges to justifications for legal responsibility, state punishment and current penological practices ad policies. CCN brings together experts from philosophy, social and natural sciences, the law and policy planning to explore the complex relationship between what research is telling us about how humans work, and the assumptions founding social policy and law.

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.

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.