Interview with Elise Murray, Summer Session Participant


This post is part of a series of interviews with our participants for the “Virtue, Happiness, & Self-Transcendence” 2017 Summer Seminar. Elise Murray is earning her PhD in Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University. Valerie Wallace is Associate Director, Communications, for Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life.

Valerie Wallace: Where are you from?

Elise Murray: I hail from Lancaster, Pennsylvania originally–Amish Country, born and raised. I am more recently coming from Boston, where I am in the PhD program for Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University.

VW: Tell me about your research.

EM: My research areas fall under the general umbrella of character virtue development, by taking a holistic approach to understand the bidirectional relationship between an individual and his or her context as it pertains to how virtues develop across time and place, within and between various individuals. My work has focused more specifically on theoretically and empirically investigating intellectual virtues, in particular, intellectual humility, its psychometric properties, and its intersections with other various character virtues.


Long-term, as a doctoral research assistant, I am working with a larger group of senior researchers and professors, investigating the developmental trajectory of character at the United States Military Academy as part of a longitudinal, collaborative project between Tufts University and the United States Military Academy, Project Arete, funded by the Templeton Religion Trust. This work is both important and engaging for me because character virtues are vital for developing personal strengths and encouraging positive engagement with others and our communities, skills that we must continue to cultivate and facilitate in college. Intellectual Humility, in particular, is important for positive, civil discourse, as well as intellectual growth, which are, again, valued skills in the college context. As such, I am passionate about finding ways to best serve college students by way of promoting character virtues in the collegiate environment.

VW: What are your non-academic interests?

EM: I am a huge sports fan, and love any Notre Dame sporting event, as that is my alma mater (Go Irish!). I am a big fan of the beach (and the occasional long walk on one), hiking, running, comedy (Mike Birbiglia or Jim Gaffigan, don’t make me choose), and performing and listening to music. I like to keep my hand in a little bit of everything!


VW: What are you most looking forward to about this summer’s seminar?

EM: Attending the seminar will allow me to engage in an intensive, interdisciplinary environment to augment my current research on virtues as a whole. This provides an opportunity to supplement my conceptualization of virtues with resources from domains outside of psychology, and improve the dialogue between science and the humanities around the topic of virtues. I also hope the seminar experience will forge interdisciplinary collaborations that may result in future research and publications pertinent to the study of virtues, and potentially, more specifically, intellectual virtues and intellectual humility.