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Rawb Leon-Carlyle Receives Lecture Award

The Department of Philosophy is exceptionally proud to announce that our very own Rawb Leon-Carlyle has been selected by the International Merleau-Ponty Circle to receive the 2018 M. C. Dillon Memorial Lecture Award. This is awarded to the author of the best graduate student submission to the Circle's annual conference.

In addition to presenting the Memorial Lecture at the Circle conference, the winner also receives a $500 monetary prize and the essay is published in Chiasmi International.

Eduardo Mendieta Interview

Eduardo Mendieta, Prof. of Phil and Associate Director of the Rock Ethics Institute, was interviewed recently by the prominent Spanish newspaper, La Vanguardia, about his work on ethics in the anthropocene. A link to the article (in Spanish) is here:

Two Philosophy Students Recieve Stand Up Award

The Department of Philosophy would like to congratulate Brendan Bernicker, a junior majoring in Philosophy and Politcal Science, and Fanta Condé, a senior majoring in Philosophy and Political Science, for being honored for leadership and advocacy as recipients of the Rock Ethics Institute's 2018 Stand Up Award.

The Penn State Rock Ethics Institute created the Stand Up Award in 2008 to honor undergraduate students who demonstrate the courage to stand behind a cause, idea or belief as they exhibit ethical leadership on campus and in the community.

To read more about the Stand Up Awards please click here.


Harold F. Martin Awardee

The Department of Philosophy would like to congratulate Kristopher Klotz, philosophy graduate student, on being awarded the Harold F. Martin Award for Outstanding Teaching!

The Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award recognizes graduate assistants for outstanding teaching performance.  This award is jointly sponsored by the Graduate School, through the Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award endowment, and the Office of the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education.

To read more about the Harold F. Martin Award, please click here.

Ph.D. Candidate Appointed Mellon Dissertation Fellow

The Department of Philosophy would like to congratulate appointed Mellon Dissertation Fellow, Edward O'Bryan, Ph.D. Candidate!


Title of Dissertation: Black American Existentialism: From Liberation to Abolition.  

Committee: Kathryn Sophia Belle (Chair), Robert Bernasconi, Sarah Clark Miller, Jennifer Boittin 


Black Americans who lived through chattel slavery, the abolition of slavery, and the horrors of lynching presented a myriad of ways to think about freedom, equality, alienation, and empowerment. Prolific Black writers like Frederick Douglass and Ida B. Wells-Barnett exposed contradictions in American society’s views on freedom and equality. Their works underscore the vibrant philosophical objections Black Americans raised with regard to the dominant white society’s views on freedom, equality, oppression, and the alienation of persons through slavery and racism. My dissertation project is motived by the way these thinkers raised practical and theoretical challenges against, and fundamentally changed, the dominant Western views of freedom and equality. Three questions motivate this project: How did those enslaved during American chattel slavery, and their descendants, approach Western concepts like freedom and agency? Were their approaches to freedom fundamentally different from the pro-slavery society? And what lessons can we learn about empowerment from their struggles against oppression? My dissertation aims to answer these questions by utilizing the work of Angela Davis and her existential reading of Frederick Douglass. Further, I demonstrate how both Frederick Douglass and Ida B. Wells Barnett understand freedom as the process of empowering individuals and communities against the alienations of slavery and its aftermath. Each of these figures outlines the horrors of slave life, the anguish of living under the constant threat of racialized violence, and the importance of resisting these realities. By outlining hypocrisy, inconsistency, and prejudice, these figures both demonstrate how dominant concepts can be altered and utilized in favor of oppressed populations.


To read more about the Mellon Foundation Grant, please click here.