Interview with Tom Angier, Summer Session Participant

Tom in treno

This post is part of a series of interviews with our incoming class for the “Virtue & Happiness” 2016 Summer Seminar. Tom Angier is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Cape Town.


Valerie Wallace: Where are you from?

Tom Angier: I grew up in rather insignificant spots in southern England, though my mother is Canadian and I did a PhD in Toronto. 


VW: Tell me about your research.

TA: My main research is in Aristotelian and neo-Aristotelian ethics and political theory. The reason is that I think the ancients, and Aristotle in particular, supply the most fruitful and realistic framework for thinking about human practice. One of my projects is to explore and resurrect the metaphysically rich framework of Aristotle’s practical philosophy. For instance, I’ve recently written a paper arguing that Aristotle’s ethics is fundamentally theocentric, something downplayed (indeed denied) by generations of philosophers. More widely, I have done work on the 19th century philosopher Kierkegaard, and also on Alasdair MacIntyre. Recently I have been asked to translate a text by Knud Logstrup, a 20th century Danish philosopher who deserves a much wider audience in the Anglophone world.


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

TA:  I’m most looking forward to meeting people with similar intellectual interests, and to learning from experts in the field. It is rare that the notion of interdisciplinarity is genuinely honoured and acted on in academia, and our week together promises to be cross-disciplinary in a very fruitful way. What’s more, I have never visited Notre Dame or Chicago, but have heard a lot about them – this has whetted my appetite for the seminar series all the more.


VW: What are your non-academic interests?

TA: My non-academic interests centre on music, current cultural critique, humour, hiking, keeping fit, and drinking Belgian beer.

Interview with Charles Lockwood, Summer Session Participant


This post is part of a series of interviews with our incoming class for the “Virtue & Happiness” 2016 Summer Seminar. Charles Lockwood is Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion at Oberlin College.

Valerie Wallace: Where are you from?

Charles Lockwood: I grew up in Atlanta, and most of my family still lives in Georgia or in neighboring states. I spent my college and grad school years living in New England with some short stints living abroad along the way, and last year, I moved with my wife and 14-month-old son to Ohio, where I’m currently teaching in the religion department at Oberlin College.


VW: Tell me about your research.

CL: I locate my research at the intersection of ethics, theology, and philosophy of religion in the modern West. My current book project focuses on the theological and philosophical legacies of Immanuel Kant’s notion of autonomy, situated in relation to debates about
secularization and modernity. I’m especially interested in Kant because his emphasis on autonomy figures so strongly in both theological and philosophical narratives about modernity, and yet assessments of Kantian autonomy (as a either a good or bad thing) vary enormously. Kant’s emphasis on autonomy is also closely linked to his thinking about virtue, and while Kant parts ways at points with Aristotelian and other forms of virtue ethics, I’m also interested in how his approach to virtue can be brought into conversation with thinkers such as Aristotle. My hope is to highlight the ways that religious considerations shape Kant’s own understanding of virtue, particularly in terms of his understanding of the relationship between divine transcendence and immanent human activity.


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

CL: Aside from the chance to meet and have invigorating conversations with a lot of scholars sharing similar interests, I’m especially drawn to the seminar’s interdisciplinary structure (drawing as it does on theology/religious studies, philosophy, and psychology), as well as its focus on multiple traditions of reflection about virtue, including Aristotelian and various Christian construals of the moral life, as well as non-Western traditions. It’s often been noted that Kant seems to draw on empirical observations at various points in developing his ethical theory (especially in his reflections on radical evil and how such evil might be overcome), and I am eager to see how contemporary empirical work in psychology might present new insights for ethical theorizing. I am also interested in contributing to the seminar by bringing Kant into conversation with Aristotelian and various Christian conceptions of virtue.

VW: What are your non-academic interests?

CL: My main non-academic interests these days involve my young son, and the daily excitement of watching him grow has been a source of enormous joy.  I’m also an amateur singer, and my wife and I joined a community choir at Oberlin last year. It’s been our first chance to sing together since college, where we met in a singing group. I also try to squeeze in a run every so often (although my son’s schedule often throws a wrench in those plans!).


Interview with Anne Baril, Summer Session Participant

Baril 2

This post is part of a series of interviews with our incoming class for the “Virtue & Happiness” 2016 Summer Seminar. Anne Baril is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of New Mexico.

Valerie Wallace: Where are you from?

Anne Baril: Originally from Minnesota, I now live in New Mexico.


VW: Tell me about your research.

AB: I have research interests in ethics, epistemology, and their intersection.  I am especially interested in exploring the role of the epistemic virtues in the good life.  The development and exercise of traits like open-mindedness, fair-mindedness, intellectual charity, and intellectual generosity are important for living well- both for becoming good people, and for living good, satisfying lives.  I argue this in my current central research project.


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

AB: Having recently started my first job, I am looking forward to the opportunity to be a student again.  All of the sessions and topics sound fascinating, and certain to be helpful to me in my own research.  And—I’ll admit—I’ve looked up the other students online, and they sound amazing!  Can’t wait to meet them and discuss all things happy and virtuous.


VW: What are your non-academic interests?

AB: My daughter was born in February, and she is just getting to the age to enjoy storytime, sing-alongs, and walks in the woods with our dog, so right now those are my favorite activities!  With going out for a drink or a coffee for a chat with a real-live adult a current second favorite.

Interview with Ryan Darr, Summer Seminar Participant

This post is part of a series of interviews with our incoming class for the “Virtue & Happiness” 2016 Summer Seminar. Ryan Darr is a Religious Ethics and Religious Studies doctoral student at Yale University.
Valerie Wallace: Where are you from?

Ryan Darr: I grew up in the small Midwestern city of Adrian, MI and spent six years after college in Chicago before moving to New Haven.

VW: Tell me about your research:

RD: I study theological ethics in the Christian tradition. My dissertation explores the theological origins of utilitarian moral philosophy in the 17th and 18th centuries. I am interested in understanding the emergence of modern moral philosophy in relation to its theological sources. I think this is important both for the sake of contemporary self-understanding and for opening space for religious contributions in contemporary moral debates. I also have particular interests in virtue ethics, moral formation, philosophy of action, and the psychology of character.

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

RD: I look forward to the interdisciplinary conversations. I find that conversations across disciplines tend to challenge my basic assumption and produce fruitful confusions.

VW: What are your non-academic interests?

RD: My primary activity beyond work is spending time with my two-year old daughter. Beyond that I like to run, play soccer, garden, and occasionally even read for fun.

Interview with Jason Welle, Summer Seminar Participant

This post is part of a series of interviews with our incoming class for the “Virtue & Happiness” 2016 Summer Seminar.  Father Jason Welle, OFM of the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, D.C. is doctoral student at Georgetown University in Theology and Religious Studies, with a focus on Christianity and Islam.

Valerie Wallace: Where are you from?
Jason Welle: I grew up in Albany, Minnesota, a small farming town in the central part of the state.  After completing a B.A. at St. Olaf College and an M.T.S. at the University of Notre Dame, I joined the Assumption BVM Province of Franciscan Friars, centered in Wisconsin.  I currently live in Washington, D.C., where I’m completing a doctorate at Georgetown University.  In the fall I will begin a visiting professorship at the Pontifical Institute for the Study of Arabic and Islam in Rome.


VW: Tell me about your research.

 JW: Georgetown’s doctoral program focuses on religious pluralism; my subject areas are Christianity and Islam.  I’m interested in Muslim-Christian relations broadly-speaking, especially in the middle ages and in connection with the Franciscan tradition.  My dissertation focuses on medieval Ṣūfism, specifically on the concept of companionship in the writings of the Ṣūfī master ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī (d. 412/1021).  In short, I chose this because I am interested in how people become better people.  Medieval Ṣūfīs had an acute sense for the way our friendships shape our relationship with God and our growth in the spiritual life.  My dissertation engages the theoretical work of Alasdair MacIntyre, arguing that he offers helpful resources to reconsider notions of virtue, character, and the role of a community’s practices within an Islamic context.


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

JW: I’m thrilled by the diversity of the participants.  While we all have an interest in virtue and character, I know that the different approaches to those themes will spark questions about my work that I had not anticipated.  Specifically, the seminar will help me advance one research project on which I’ve done some initial work: the role of emotions in the thought of Bernard Lonergan.  I intend to bring Lonergan’s framework into conversation with Martha Nussbaum’s research on “negative emotions” like shame and anger, looking at the way these can impede proper cognition.  The section of the seminar with Owen Flanagan on destructive emotions will assist me in developing my thoughts on this for publication.


VW: What are your non-academic interests?
JW: I remain gratefully active in sacramental ministry, celebrating masses and hearing confessions at our shrine church in Washington.  I am a pilgrim guide in the Holy Land and travel there once or twice a year to lead groups.  My brother Scott turned me into a marathoner; I train year-round and we run a full marathon together, shoulder-to-shoulder, at least once a year.  Outside of Christmas and Holy Week, this is one of my greatest joys.

Interview with Summer Session Participant Indrawati Liauw


This post is part of a series of interviews with our incoming class for the “Virtue & Happiness” 2016 Summer Seminar. Indrawati Liauw a thirdyear doctoral student at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, with a specialization in Developmental and Psychological Studies.

Valerie Wallace: Where are you from?

Indrawati Liauw: I was born in Indonesia, raised in Singapore, and have been in the United States for my post-graduate education since 2011 – first at the University of Rhode Island and now at Stanford University.

VW: Tell me about your research.

IL: My research interests are in moral development and moral education. I am particularly interested in compassion and aim for my research to find answers to the question – “what are good ways to help children and youth cultivate compassion?” I am currently a graduate research assistant in the Stanford Center on Adolescence. Some of the research projects that I worked on examined youth civic engagement and youth entrepreneurship. Currently I am studying the development of gratitude in middle school students. I am also interested in the development of moral character in both religious and non-religious settings.

My interest in compassion lies in my belief that it is a character strength that can be fostered and developed over time. I believe that education of the heart and mind are equally important for personal and interpersonal well-being. After all, humans are social beings!


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

IL: I have always been interested in moral philosophy but haven’t had the opportunity to learn more. Thus, I am really looking forward to delving into this domain during the summer institute. I am also very keen to interdisciplinary research collaborations with fellow participants.


VW: What are your non-academic interests?

IL: For fun, I like to travel, cook and spend time with my family and friends. I go home to Singapore for a few weeks every summer, which I really love – it is always nice to not work for a bit, and just relax! 

Interview with Matthew Dugandzic, Summer Session Participant


This post is part of a series of interviews with our incoming class for the “Virtue & Happiness” 2016 Summer Seminar. Matthew Dugandzic  is a PhD student in moral theology/ethics, who does some research in psychology as well, at The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC.

Valerie Wallace: Where are you from?

Matthew Dugandzic: I come from suburban New York, attended college in Montréal, and currently reside in Washington, DC. 


VW: Tell me about your current research.

MD: My main research interest is in medieval psychology. I especially enjoy tracing the development of concepts over time during the 12th and 13th centuries and seeing how the introduction of Aristotelian philosophy to the Latin West shaped Scholastic thought. The purpose of all this is to try to understand why there is a disjunction between what people think they ought to do, what they feel they want to do, and what they actually do. And, of course, I want to learn to remedy that disjunction, which is why I’m also interested in contemporary research in neuroscience.

VW: What are you most looking forward to about this summer’s Virtue & Happiness seminar?
MD: I’m looking forward to seeing what people with more scientific backgrounds have to say about virtue ethics and in exploring how an Aristotelian philosophical anthropology and a scientific understanding of human nature can benefit one another.


VW: What are your non-academic interests?

MD: Frisbee, winter sports, and proving to my Midwestern friends – with live demonstration – that there is not just one New York accent, but several.