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.



Group Photo and Last Day of the Summer Seminar “Virtue, Happiness, and Self-Transcendence”

“I feel very fortunate to have listened to and engaged with such gifted people from so many places…”

“I’m having a great fascinating time and I’ve heard attendees from all perspectives/traditions express how appreciative they are of getting this opportunity to have a respectful interdisciplinary discussion on these topics.”

We feel the same, and grateful for the comments already coming our way from our fabulous participants.

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From left: Madison Gilbertson, Carissa Phillips-Garrett, Sarah Ann Bixler, Cabrini Pak, Dan McAdams, Andrea Yetzer, Candace Vogler, Jennifer Rothschild, Ellen Dulaney, Anselm Mueller, Samantha Mendez, David McPherson, Joseph Stenberg, Fr. Steve Brock, Andrew Flynn, Jennifer A. Frey, James Dominic Rooney, Jane Klinger, Molly Ogunyemi, Tim Reilly, Craig Iffland, Marta Faria, Elise Murray, Andrew Christy, Alberto Arruda, Sanaz Talaifar, Theresa Smart, Maureen Bielinski, Samuel Baker, Jaime Hovey, Tal Brewer, Anne Jeffrey.

Today’s sessions are Jennifer Frey on Happiness and Candace Vogler on Happiness and Social Life; follow along with our live-tweeting from @UChiVirtue.

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Below is a sampling from yesterday’s sessions with Fr Stephen Brock on Aquinas and the Law and Dan McAdams on Generativity.

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Announcing the Participants for our 2017 Summer Seminar, “Virtue, Happiness, & Self-Transcendence”


We’re delighted to share the list of participants for our 2017 Summer Seminar, “Virtue, Happiness, and Self-Transcendence“, who hail from all corners of the globe and will convene at the University of Chicago for a week this June. These young researchers will participate in intensive workshop sessions with our faculty to deepen their own research  through conversations with a network of fellow collaborators in the areas of Philosophy, Psychology, and Theology/Religious Studies.

The accepted participants for the 2017 Summer Seminar, “Virtue, Happiness, & Self-Transcendence” are:

Alberto Arruda, University of Lisbon
Samuel Baker, University of South Alabama
Maureen Bielinski, University of St. Thomas, TX
Sarah Bixler, Princeton Theological Seminary
Andrew Christy, Texas A&M University
Ellen Dulaney, DePaul University
Marta Faria, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome
Andrew Flynn, University of California – Los Angeles
Madison Gilbertson, Fuller Graduate School of Psychology
Craig Iffland, University of Notre Dame
Anne Jeffrey, University of South Alabama
Jane Klinger, University of Waterloo
David McPherson, Creighton University
Samantha Mendez, University of the Philippines- Diliman
Elise Murray, Tufts University
Omowumi Ogunyemi, Institute of humanities of the Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos
Cabrini Pak, The Catholic University of America
Carissa Phillips-Garrett, Rice University
Timothy Reilly, University of Notre Dame
James Dominic Rooney, Saint Louis University
Jennifer Rothschild, University of Florida
Theresa Smart, University of Notre Dame
Joseph Stenberg, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Sanaz Talaifar, University of Texas at Austin
Andrea Yetzer, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs