Honors sophomore Catrina Kim loved The Human Situation so much that when the two-semester course ended, she wanted to continue the intense reading, questioning, and conversing that characterize the Human Sit experience. As one of the first Phronesis Junior Fellows, Catrina can continue doing all three.
“I’m a piano performance major, so almost all of my classes are in music,” she said. “But I decided to apply for the [Phronesis Junior Fellows] program because of Human Sit. What I really enjoyed about
Human Sit was reading those difficult texts and having engaging discussions about them. And, being part of this group is a way for me to continue that.” The Phronesis Junior Fellows began with a small group of eight last fall, and doubled in size this spring. Fellows are nominated by Honors faculty on the basis of outstanding academic achievement, intellectual curiosity, and most importantly, a passion for exploring the difficult questions that arise when one refuses to separate the ethical life from political action.
“The idea is to provide a place for questions of politics and ethics to be explored outside the classroom setting, and to do it in a way that will take advantage of visiting speakers and scholars,” said Dr. Jeremy Bailey, associate professor of political science and coordinator of the Phronesis Junior Fellows.
The Fellows take on a course of intense, structured reading on top of their normal class schedule. Meeting every few weeks for discussion, they engage with high-level readings that challenge them at a new level. “We’ve had some amazing opportunities to read a lot of texts that we wouldn’t be reading in most of our political science classes,” said Andrew Hall, a senior. “We’ve read some challenging texts by prominent scholars.”
The Fellows—joined by some faculty and alumni—have already participated in colloquia with two visiting professors. Last November, before the Honors Academic Tailgate, they met with Dr. James Ceaser from the University of Virginia; and in February, they met with this year’s Ross M. Lence Master Teacher, Dr. Michael Zuckert of the University of Notre Dame. This kind of close contact with nationally recognized scholars is one of the chief benefits of the Phronesis Junior Fellows program.
“As a Phronesis Junior Fellow, I get to know professors from other universities who are renowned in their fields,” Andrew said. “I would have less chance to meet them if I attended their own university!”
Thanks to grants from the Jack Miller Fund ($15,000), the Veritas Fund ($15,000), and the Koch Foundation ($10,000), each Fellow receives a small stipend to offset the additional time commitment of readings and meetings, and Phronesis can offer support for visits from other scholars. “Our students are our best asset, and the Honors College and the University do a really good job showing off our students’ abilities in the arts,” Dr. Bailey said. “We hope that the Phronesis Junior Fellows Program might be a similar opportunity to show off our students who are passionate about these questions of ethics and politics.”