On poverty and the theology requirement

I recently attended the United Nations 59th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women. Representatives from around the world discussed the relationship between poverty and the education of women. The Western nations tended to present abstract arguments for “disaggregating data” and the importance of increased access of opportunity to education, political office and economic capital as a means of eradicating the poverty suffered by women in both developed and undeveloped nations. Indeed, access to education seemed to me a valuable means to the empowerment of women until a Nigerian delegate objected that “access to education” does not ensure “quality education.”  Continue reading “On poverty and the theology requirement”

On Business Degrees and Free Market Mysticism

The following column was published in The Observer on Thursday, October 2, 2014.

“I don’t like to hire students who studied accounting. They tend to approach problems narrowly, as though they are clear-cut numerical issues with clear-cut, single-answer solutions. This just isn’t true.”

I was a bit surprised to hear this from a partner at a nationally recognized law firm that focused on business law. As a former philosophy major in a joint-degree program in law and Catholic Studies, I tended to see my lack of business knowledge as a liability in my job search. What this lawyer suggested, however, was that a technical or job-oriented degree could be an intellectual hindrance for those pursuing professional work. Continue reading “On Business Degrees and Free Market Mysticism”

On Empty Classrooms

The following column was published in The Observer on Thursday, September 18, 2014.

Willis Konick retired in 2007 as one of the University of Washington’s most sought-after professors.

For Willis, as his students called him, the classroom had changed over the years. According to the Seattle Times, ” [Willis] said teaching Dostoyevsky novels in the 1960s was easy because he didn’t need to explain radicalism to students. The students often came to class stoned – but he didn’t find that as annoying as today’s students, who often text-message during class.” Continue reading “On Empty Classrooms”

Studying Death

The following column was published in The Observer on Thursday, September 4, 2014.

When students first read how Athens put Socrates to death they either balk at the injustice of the Athenians or at the uncalculating stubbornness of Socrates. Socrates was charged with corrupting Athens’ youth and refused to yield when faced with death. I myself sided with Socrates as my PLS Great Books seminar grappled with the story. My professor helped me to understand the other side: “If your children were abandoning their jobs and educations to follow an old man around, asking bothersome questions to strangers, what would you do? What would Notre Dame do if a professor convinced a bunch of students to stop attending class and, instead, sit out on the quad and talk about being all day?”  Continue reading “Studying Death”

To Win as Notre Dame

Notre Dame has a weird alma mater. You wouldn’t know that from a teleconference with head football coach Brian Kelly today. In it, he said that football players would not be expected to remain on the field and sing the school’s alma mater with the other students after home losses. He said, “I just don’t think it’s appropriate to put your players after a defeat in a situation where they’re exposed… I want to get them in the locker room. It’s important to talk to them, and I just felt like in those situations, after a loss, there’s a lot of emotions. It’s important to get the team back into the locker room and get them under my guidance.”  Continue reading “To Win as Notre Dame”

Book Recommendations for Undergrads Considering Law School

Coming to law school has made me particularly glad that I decided to major in philosophy. In many ways, I’ve found many of the ideas I encountered as an undergraduate to be foundational to the way I approach the law. I could make a pretty long list of books that I think every student should study (not just “read,” but “study”) before coming to law school, but here are some texts that I think are particularly important:  Continue reading “Book Recommendations for Undergrads Considering Law School”

On Christian Children in the Public Schools

Sometimes I shock my friends when I tell them I would strongly consider (and possibly prefer) homeschooling for my children. There are a host of objections to homeschooling (both preposterously unfounded and practically well-founded). One objection that I would like to take up is the idea that homeschooling would require an educational and intellectual competence that most parents do not have. This is an important objection, and one that ought to be taken seriously. The objection becomes ridiculous, however, when Christians use it as an excuse to send their children to public schools. Continue reading “On Christian Children in the Public Schools”

A Letter to the Philosophy Department at Notre Dame

I recently completed my exit survey as a philosophy major at Notre Dame. With it, I included the following thoughts on my time at Notre Dame.

My Time in Philosophy at Notre Dame

As I consider my time in the philosophy department at Notre Dame, I would like to take note of two things, both discussed at the reception for the graduates of the department. The first is the justification for an education in philosophy. My peers and I, with a bit of horror and disappointment, listened to a lengthy apology for the major at the reception. Not exactly a celebration of the merits of an education in philosophy, my peers and I felt as though it was an attempt to justify an education in philosophy to a room of people who were largely opposed to such an education. The justification seemed to stress that there were real-world opportunities for a philosophy graduate, despite the department’s non-vocational focus. Continue reading “A Letter to the Philosophy Department at Notre Dame”

Done with college, and today I’m… disappointed

The university used to be a place in which the primary focus was an “opening” of the mind to the intellectual life. The undergraduate years were a preparation for a life of reflectiveness, an unending search for truth. The goal of college was a lifetime of reading, learning, thinking, conversing, reflecting. I just finished my last classes as an undergraduate, and now I just want to sit around and read and think and talk with my friends. I consider myself very fortunate to have friends who want the same things. Continue reading “Done with college, and today I’m… disappointed”