Janet Kourany Receives Mullin Hancock Teaching Award

Prof. Janet Kourany (Philosophy, HPS) has been selected as the second recipient of the Gender Studies Program’s Marian Mullin Hancock Teaching Award.  

“Dr. Kourany’s students described her as a “generous and dedicated mentor” who expresses a genuine interest in her students and cares for them “both in the classroom and outside of it.” Students wrote that her classes – on topics of feminist philosophy of science and feminist epistemology, as well as the philosophy of gender and sexual difference itself – were “extremely unique, captivating, and well thought out.” She is one of the “strongest and most innovative teachers” in her department.  Her former students also noted how challenging Dr. Kourany’s courses are. One student described the specific approach that they felt made Dr. Kourany such a phenomenal professor:  “We never knew the nature of her philosophical commitments. She constantly assumed a contrary position to serve the foil for one’s claim, which shifted the focus away from trying to provide the ‘right’ answer and toward a more comprehensive understanding of one’s own argument.” 

Evan Ragland Wins ACLS Fellowship

The American Council of Learned Societies has named Evan Ragland, Assistant Professor of History and HPS a 2017 ACLS Fellow. The set of 71 fellows was selected through ACLS’s rigorous, multi-stage peer-review process from a pool of nearly 1,200 applicants—one of the largest in the history of the program. The fellowships support scholars for six to twelve months of full-time research and writing.

Ragland will use his fellowship time to work on a project titled “Experimental Life: Medicine, Science, and the Emergence of a Culture of Experiment.”

Past news:

Robert Goulding to Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study in 2016-17

Robert Goulding

Congratulations to Reilly Fellow and HPS faculty member Robert Goulding, who has been awarded a place at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study in 2016-17! 

There he will work on a book manuscript on the optics of the Elizabethan mathematician and polymath Thomas Harriot. His project will use the manuscript papers of Harriot to reconstruct his experiments on light, with mirrors, lenses, prisms, both in his workshop and in his imagination. Harriot discovered the law of refraction some twenty years before Snel and Descartes, and, through his experiments with prisms, anticipated the color theory of Newton by half a century. Robert’s work will examine Harriot’s optical researches, and put them in the context of early-modern optics and natural philosophy, where they can be seen both to spring from common concerns of the period, and to be utterly original and much more sophisticated than any of his contemporaries. 

Once that project is completed, he will be turning to another project he has been working on in recent years, concerning the natural philosophy of the sixteenth-century logician and educational reformer, Petrus Ramus.

Anjan Chakravartty wins Guggenheim fellowship

Anjan Chakravartty

Anjan Chakravartty has been awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship! During his year off, Chakravartty will explore how people should think about the rationality of their beliefs in the face of disagreement among experts.

Kristin Shrader-Frechette and grad students bring socially engaged HPS to HSS/PSA 2014



ND HPS faculty member Kristin Shrader-Frechette and 4  grad students will present their work  on “Socially Engaged HPS” on Thursday evening, 7-8:30 pm, at the biennial HSS-PSA meeting in Chicago.   All 4 of these ND students, on the  program, did the work (that they are presenting at HSS/PSA)  during Dr. Shrader-Frechette’s grad HPS course last semester, “Philosophy of Science and Public Policy.” 

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Tom Stapleford Wins NSF Grant

Thomas Stapleford

August, 2014 – Professor Tom Stapleford has been awarded a grant of over $100K from the National Science Foundation for his project titled “Economic Statistics and the Challenge of Democratic Control.” Stapleford aims to transform the way Americans construct and understand economic statistics and will use the funding to design a new undergraduate course on the conceptual foundations of economic statistics. This course will become the basis for a text book targeted toward undergraduates, policymakers, and journalists. He also plans to construct a website on price indexes that will explain basic conceptual issues, digest recent methodological research, and provide an ongoing, non-partisan commentary about policy issues connected with these statistics. See more about his grant here

Philosopher Janet Kourany delivers two major lectures

Janet Kourany

2013 – HPS professor Janet Kourany has been busy this spring! In addition to working on her latest book entitled Forbidden Knowledge: The Social Construction and Management of Ignorance, Janet has given two major lectures in the US and Canada. Her first talk was at the “No Limits” conference at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, where she was the keynote speaker. Her presentation, entitled “But What Happens When the Scientists Are Women?” challenged the concern that science will be less sound if women are allowed to conduct it.

Her most recent talk, “Bacon’s Promise,” was delivered at the University of Alberta as part of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Strategic Knowledge Cluster grant that funds “Situating Science,” a seven-year project promoting communication and collaboration among humanists and social scientists that are engaged in the study of science and technology.

Grant Ramsey gives a talk at University of Maryland entitled “Human Nature in a Post-Essentialist World”

Grant Ramsey

2013 – Grant Ramsey is Associate Professor of Philosophy and his research interests are in the philosophy of biology. In his talk at University of Maryland, Grant suggests an account of human nature —the “life-history trait cluster” conception of human nature- that should satisfy the following desiderata: it should (1) be the empirically accessible (and thus not based on occult essences) subject of the human (psychological, anthropological, economic, biological, etc.) sciences, (2) help clarify related concepts like innateness, naturalness, and inevitability, which are associated with human nature, and (3) characterize human uniqueness.

Words in action: English Department faculty bring science and literature expertise into ND HPS

Kate Marshall

2012 – Laura Dassow Walls, Kate Marshall (pictured), Christopher Fox, John Sitter, Yasmin Solomonescu, and Matthew Wilkens are all working on science and literature at the University of Notre Dame.

Click here for more details on their research interests and publications.


HPS philosophers head to China for The International Conference on Scientific Explanation and Methodology

Brading, Kourany, and Chakravartty in China

2012 – Three philosophy faculty members from the HPS program enjoyed a warm welcome from professors and students at The International Conference on Scientific Explanation and Methodology of Science at Shanxi University’s Research Center for Philosophy of Science and Technology, September 17-19. In magnificent surroundings, two long and intense days of papers, presentations and discussions were followed by a banquet and a day-trip to the ancient city of Pingyao. 

In the photograph, from left to right, are: Professor Jun An (member of the Research Center for Philosophy of Science and Technology); Anjan Chakravartty, Prof Chuang Liu (the link between the USA and the research center), Katherine Brading, Professor Guichun Guo (director of the center), Janet Kourany, and Professor Jie Yin (deputy director of the center).

The Research Center for Philosophy of Science and Technology (RCPST) at Shanxi University was founded in 1978 and has maintained a robust research program in philosophy of science and technology. This is the center’s first international conference, which aims to bring together a diverse group of international researchers to promote the exchange of ideas between researchers in China and those from the international community. The conference runs from 17-19 September, 2012.

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ND philosophers on socially engaged philosophy of science

Janet Kourany 2012

2012 – Reilly Fellow and philosopher Janet Kourany and HPS program alum Kevin Elliott spoke at the 49th annual Cincinnati Philosophy Colloquium, which took place from October 11-13, 2012. The topic was socially engaged philosophy of science.

Kourany gave a paper entitled “Human Enhancement: Making the Debate More Productive” and Elliott spoke on “Financial Conflicts of Interest and Criteria for Research Credibility.”

For more information on the conference, click here.

Chakravartty to Speak at Durham colloquium

Anjan Chakravartty

2012 – Reilly Fellow and philosopher Anjan Chakravartty gave a talk at the “Scientific Realism in Light of the History of Science” colloquium. His paper was titled “Three Arguments for the Historical Robustness of (Anti-)Realism.”

For more information on the colloquium, click here.


Words in action: English Department faculty bring science and literature expertise into ND HPS

2012 – The Notre Dame HPS program is pleased to highlight our strength in science and literature. Our core group of faculty includes Laura Dassow Walls (pictured), Kate Marshall, Christopher Fox, John Sitter, Yasmin Solomonescu, and Matthew Wilkens. Click here to find out more about their award-winning research and publications. Read more >

English Professor Laura Dassow Walls Studies Emerson and Science

Laura Walls new photo

For her contributions to Emerson studies, Laura Dassow Walls, the University of Notre Dame’s William P. and Hazel B. White Professor of English, has been awarded the 2012 Ralph Waldo Emerson Society Distinguished Achievement Award.

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Don Howard teaches summer course on Einstein’s philosophy of science

Don Howard

2012 – Reilly Center director and professor of philosophy Don Howard taught a week-long interdisciplinary summer course on Albert Einstein’s philosophy of science in Tübingen, Germany. The course, which ran from July 30-August 3, 2012, included a diverse array of graduate students and junior scientists from around the world, including many from top history and/or philosophy of science graduate programs in North and South America and Europe.


Catherine Jackson Joins the HPS Program

Catherine Jackson

The HPS program would like to welcome Catherine Jackson as its first postdoctoral fellow! Professor Jackson received her first Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Cambridge University and her second Ph.D. in History of Science from University College London. She was most recently a Gordon Cain Teaching Fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation.

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Jon Coleman Publishes New Book



Jon Coleman


Here Lies Hugh Glass: a Mountain Man, a Bear, and the Rise of the American Nation, the latest book by HPS faculty member Jon Coleman, was officially launched on May 3rd. The book explores the myth of Hugh Glass, a hunter brutally mauled by a grizzly bear along the Yellowstone River in the summer of 1823. Glass, who survived the attack despite being abandoned by his hunting partners, became a mythic figure to those seeking adventure in the American West.



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Robert Goulding Wins ACLS Fellowship






Reilly Fellow Robert Goulding, Associate Professor in the Program of Liberal Studies and in the History and Philosophy of Science, has been awarded a prestigious fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) for the 2012-2013 academic year.  This year there were only 65 awards for 1191 applications.



Robert has received the ACLS award for his project “Renaissance optics between experiment and imagination: the mathematical practice of Thomas Harriot.” Harriot (1560-1621) served as a mathematical advisor and tutor to Sir Walter Raleigh and the Earl of Northumberland; and, in his spare time, filled thousands of papers with accounts of his experiments and scientific theories.  Although in many ways ahead of his time, he told few about his discoveries, which disappeared along with his papers for centuries after his death.  Robert has been working his way through Harriot’s accounts of mirrors, lenses and telescopes in his rediscovered manuscripts, and will use his ACLS Fellowship to write a book that reconstructs the day-to-day life of a Renaissance scientist: his experiments and speculations, his reading and study of his predecessors and contemporaries, and the relationship between his public life as a professional advisor and his more secretive work as a natural and experimental philosopher.



Celia Deane-Drummond, Laura Dassow Walls, and Anjan Chakravartty join the Notre Dame HPS faculty



Celia Deane-Drummond



Celia Deane-Drummond is a distinguished theologian who came to Notre Dame from the University of Chester where she was a Professor in Theology and the Biosicences. She is the author/editor of numerous books, and her research interests include systematic theology in its relationship with creation and the natural world as understood by science; and bioethics, particularly environmental ethics, genetics and ethics, animal ethics, global development, end of life questions, transhumanism.



Deane-Drummond is currently leading the Project in Human Nature and Evolution at Princeton University’s Center for Theological Inquiry. (Click here or here for more information.)



Laura Walls new photo



Laura Dassow Walls, a scholar of 19th century American literature and culture, joined the Notre Dame faculty in fall 2011 as the William P. and Hazel B. White Professor of English. Walls specializes in American Transcendentalism—especially Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, transatlantic romanticism, literature and science, and environmental literature and ecocriticism.



Her latest book, The Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America won the Modern Language Association’s James Russell Lowell Prize, the Organization of American Historians’ Merle Curti Award for the best book in American intellectual history, and the Michelle Kendrick Memorial Book Prize from the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts. To read more about Dassow Walls, click here.



Anjan Chakravartty



Anjan Chakravartty is a philosopher of science and metaphysics. He came to Notre Dame from the University of Toronto, where he was Director of the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology.



Chakravartty focuses his research on the philosophy of science and metaphysics, including topics in the philosophy of physics and biology. He became the editor of Studies in History and Philosophy of Science in January of 2012, and the journal now resides at Notre Dame. Chakravartty’s latest book, A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism: Knowing the Unobservable, won the Canadian Philosophical Association’s biennial book prize in 2009. For more information on the arrival of Anjan Chakravartty, see here.

Click here for the full story about these three faculty members and their accomplishments.