Karbank Philosophy Summer Fellowships Allow Students to Explore Philosophy’s Connection to the World

Download the Summer 2019 Informational Flier for information on how to apply

From filming a backpacking adventure along the Lost Coast of Northern California to riding with EMTs in Atlanta to joining an international philosophy and linguistics conference in Tübingen, Germany, recipients of the first Karbank Philosophy Fellowship prizes explored a wide range of real-world philosophical interests this summer. Supported by a generous grant from BU Philosophy alumnus Steven Karbank, five BU Philosophy undergraduates formed the initial class of Karbank Fellows. The grant supports “any structured activity, study, or hands-on experience” that will “significantly enrich the student’s philosophical understanding of self and world.”

2019 Class of Karbank Fellows

Congratulations to this year’s new class of Karbank Fellows!

Arkadiy Baltser (’21) and Christian Borovik (’21)

intend to create a film exploring the historical and contemporary philosophical influences on Russian intellectual and political life. Several Russian professors of philosophy will be interviewed.

Michael Dratch (’19)

will spend his summer investigating environmentally sustainable farming techniques. He will also study and reflect upon the “good food” movement and how it relates to various virtues on the part of producers and consumers of food. Michael will share his thoughts and findings on a blog.

Lucy Duke (’22)

plans to put various philosophical claims about consciousness, including Sartre’s contention that consciousness is always the consciousness of something in the world, to the test by immersing herself and other subjects in sensory-deprivation tanks. Each subject will undergo ten 90-minute sessions. Lucy plans to write up a detailed description of her own experience and interview the other subjects about theirs.

Khai Evdaev (’20)

plans to travel to various urban and rural locations in Russia to determine whether people agree with Aristotle that eudaimonia or happiness is the highest end, and what they regard as constituting or leading to eudaimonia. Khai will write his findings in a journal, and possibly produce a short video summarizing his findings.

Artem Gureev (’20)

will attend the prestigious Logic and Formal Epistemology (L&FE) program at Carnegie Mellon University. This will be an invaluable experience for Artem, who plans to write two senior honor’s theses next year: one in Mathematics on subsystems of second-order arithmetic, and another in Philosophy on the ontological and epistemological issues involved in the development of metamathematics.

Alexander Keiter (’21)

intends to study domestic and international human rights law. He will visit the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, and the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. There he will attend court sessions and lectures, and examine various archival materials.

Casey Lewry (’19)

Together with our own Prof. Victor Kumar and Prof. Peter Blake (Psychological and Brain Sciences), Casey Lewry intends to examine whether and how empathy and reasoning can be used as a “moral wedge” (Kumar) for changes in our social attitudes towards various groups of individuals. They intend to examine, among other things, the manner in which changing social attitudes depend on whether a certain trait is believed to be voluntary or not, whether the trait is hidden or visible, and why our attitudes have shifted in recent years with respect to some groups but not others.

Isobel Munday (’20)

will be working as an intern at the Crockett Lab at Yale University’s Department of Psychology, which examines, among other things, human moral psychology, social learning, and decision making. Isobel is especially interested in determining how much of our moral framework is innate, and what is the optimal moral framework for policy decision.

Anna Pham (’20)

plans to travel to ten religious communities in California and interview ten members from each to examine their perspectives on the relationship between religious faith and happiness. Anna intends to film many of the interviews and religious services and create a video journal.

Daniel Portnof (’20)

will teach a group of middle school students this summer through Generation Teach in Boston. During his time, Daniel will appeal to a number of historically prominent philosophical theories regarding knowledge and education examine how students learn, how much they are willing to accept on authority, and how much of their knowledge seems to be “innate.”

Zayda Romero (’19)

intends to take a course entitled “Foundations of Behavioral and Experimental Economics for Developing Countries” and the London School of Economics—University of Cape Town summer program. There Zayda will examine various ethical issues regarding the developing world and various solutions to global economic inequality, as well as the psychological role that poverty plays in economic activity

Venissala Wongchai (’20)

will spend the summer as an intern with the The Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) in Connecticut, an organization which advocates for both environmentally sustainable policies and for consumer health. By working with them, Venissala will reflect on the impact of non-profit organizations on policy, and on the ethical and moral issues surrounding our present patterns of use and consumption.

Yingshihan Zhu (’20)

will create a Feminist Philosophy discussion group in Beijing, which will involve two weeks of small group discussions led by Yingshihan, as well as the necessary preparation for the discussions and philosophical work afterward. Yingshihan will invite around ten high school and college age students to attend, where they will read about and discuss central issues in feminist philosophy. Yingshihan will create a multi-media blog, and share it with the American Philosophical Association (APA).

Previous Award Winners

Rachael Molenaar (’19)

attended the prestigious Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy’s School for Female Students.

Anna Stroinski (’19)

was in Poland, putting together an oral history of participants in the Solidarity movement.

Michael Dratch (’19)

studied the potential of non-anthropocentric approaches to the environment.

Ying Yao (’19)

explored connections between philosophy, phenomenology and Buddhism.

Evelyn Castro (’18)

took a UCLA summer course on issues in Latina/Latino poverty.

Morgan Ashurian (’18)

interned for a federal judge in Florida.

Rebecca Dobyns (’15)

followed with her camera two experienced backpackers on the Lost Coast of Northern California for five days and 50 miles. Her project will result in a documentary film that explores, among other things, philosophical questions about the value of outdoors exploration and the relation between freedom and nature.

Samantha Kennedy (’15)

researched the philosophical underpinnings of the contemporary issue of universal daycare, drawing on moral arguments from philosophers ranging from Aristotle to Smith and Rousseau.

Chad Kringen (’15)

attended the North American School for Logic, Language, and Information (NASSLLI) in College Park, Maryland, as well as its European counterpart (ESSLLI) in Tübingen, Germany, taking a series of classes ranging from causal graphical models to game theory and temporal logic.

Julian Lijtszain (’15)

visited pediatric hospitals as part of an internship with the Mexican Institute of Social Security or Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS) in Mexico City. He did extensive fieldwork for the Institute that resulted in new methodological approaches for patient surveys.

Demarius Walker (’14)

used his grant to attend EMT training classes in Atlanta. The hands-on experience opened his eyes, he said, to many real-world ethical dilemmas that don’t find easy philosophical resolutions.

Claire Chiodini

followed up on her recent philosophical study of the notion of good in Plato and Aristotle in a concrete way: participated in the annual Rimini (Italy) “Meeting for the Friendship Amongst Peoples,” which draws a diverse group of people from many faith and philosophical traditions, and interviewed attendees about their varying notions of the good.

Salimata Diakité

researched how mass incarceration affects women, examining the procedures of non-federal prisons in Massachusetts, as well as the privatized and state-funded reentry programs partnered with Massachusetts Department of Correction.

Rebecca Strong Garcia

explored the role of emotions in music as she takes part in a Renaissance performance program in Florence.

Rahim Hirji

interviewed lawyers in the UK who have an unusual common experience: representing criminals or companies who were detested in the public eye.

Sharmin Rahman

studied how internet access affects political decision-making and opinion-formation by comparing cities where internet access is low (Detroit, MI) and high (Cambridge, MA).

Anush Swaminathan

explored the moral questions raised by the use of animals in lab work, making use both of key philosophical texts concerning the moral status of animals and of the first-hand perspectives that come from working in a developmental neurobiology lab at BU.

Abraham Tawil

studied what light philosophy can shed on the difficult questions of free will and determinism raised by addiction.

Stephen Valdesuso

explored the relation of human philosopher to natural environment by taking part in the rigorous Boulder (Utah) Outdoor Survival School Field Course.

Morgan Ashurian

attended the BU Pre-Law London Summer Internship Program, gaining an insider perspective while living, learning, and working in London for 12 weeks. Along with the two classes, she interned at a law firm wherein she gained insight into the inner-workings of the UK legal system.

Rosie Carter

explored the underlying philosophical questions that present themselves in children’s literature by attending the Children’s Literature Summer Institute at Simmons College

Madeleine Freeman

participated in the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Philosophy Summer Seminar. The threeweek long seminar is designed to introduce undergraduate students considering studies in Philosophy to a graduate-level academic setting.

Olivia Gehrke

interviewed local Boston musicians to challenge Nietzsche about the connection between art and life

Casey Lewry

gained philosophical insight into what it means to teach by volunteering as a research assistant in a cognitive developmental psychology laboratory and kept a journal while there, reflecting on her experience by reading the Meno.

Rachael Molenaar

participated in UC Boulder’s Colorado Summer Seminar in Philosophy and Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy’s Summer School on Mathematical Philosophy for Female Students.

Melinda Reyes

traced Kant’s views on women and how they changed or should have changed women over time. This research is the third part of larger research project to analyze the extent of this analogy between nonwhite races and women, and to determine how Kant’s teleology influenced—or should have influenced— his views on nonwhite races and women over time.

Anush Swaminathan

explored how the definition of ‘biological genes’ varies between research programs in closely related sub-disciplines of biology, and whether those definitions have common molecular micro-structures.