Honors Program Adapts and Thrives in Virtual Environment

Professor Smithey’s and Prof. Paddon Rhoads’ honors seminars were covered in this story by Ryan Dougherty about the honors program during the pandemic.

“Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies and Sociology Lee Smithey invited six authors to join his honors seminar on nonviolent civil resistance. Students heard the inside story from the writers whose books they were reading.“The results were pretty special,” says Smithey, whose hybrid seminar was held both online and, on warmer days, on the lawn outside Trotter Hall. “And the authors were each impressed with their conversation with the students and the level at which our students engaged the literature.”

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Assistant Professor of Political Science Emily Paddon Rhoads’s honors seminar had a hybrid format, with six students studying in person and three online.

My Swat Story: Luke Neureiter ’22

[This piece was published as part of the College’s Meet Swarthmore initiative on April 26th, 2021]

Majors: Engineering and Peace & Conflict Studies
Hometown: Denver, Colo.

He Never Saw Himself at Swarthmore

“My dad went to Swarthmore and was part of the class of ’87. As I like to say on my admissions tours, for 18 of my 20 years, I did not want to come to Swarthmore. This is the last place I thought I would end up. I really thought that my college experience would be my own and I would do my own thing. That was until I actually visited Swarthmore and had an overnight with the soccer team, and it totally changed my opinion. I realized that the community that you could build here and the people you interact with daily were things that you couldn’t really find a lot of other places.”

He Wants to Blaze a Trail in Peace Engineering

“To me, peace engineering is like the poster child of a liberal arts education. When I first came to Swarthmore, I was introduced to the Peace & Conflict program through a teammate of mine who knew Professor Sa’ed Atshan very well. I had come to Swarthmore for engineering and wanted to do that from the start, so those two came naturally. I try to think about peace engineering as trying to reframe the way that people go about problem solving. So whether it is an issue with community building or reconstructing a building, it’s all about reframing the way that you’re looking at a problem to not only incorporate issues of optimization or efficiency, but also issues of community, inclusion, diversity, and equity. Blazing the trail for peace engineering after graduation is something that I’m definitely interested in.”

Soccer and Design Help Him Give Back

“Design FC was started by Omri Gal through the Lang Center about two years ago. It’s an afterschool program for design thinking work in an afterschool setting at Stetser Elementary in Chester. We teach design thinking skills to 5th and 6th graders. Now that Omri’s graduated, I’ve taken over the program and I’m in charge of it. Being there really, one, inspired me to work in Chester. It’s an incredible place and an incredible community. And then two, to get involved in a lot of things that I never thought I would get involved with here, like tutoring, mentoring, as well as learning how to use Illustrator for design.”

Philosopher Krista Thomason Awarded National Humanities Center Fellowship

Krista Thomason

Associate Professor of Philosophy Krista Thomason was recently recognized as a leading scholar by the National Humanities Center (NHC) with a 2021 residential fellowship to continue work on her second book project, Worms in the Garden: Bad Feelings in a Good Life.

The residential fellowship will allow Thomason to spend her sabbatical year at the NHC working alongside other fellows, which Thomason describes as “every scholar’s dream.” Worms in the Garden: Bad Feelings in a Good Life contemplates how one can live a good life without having to get rid of negative emotion.

“I teach moral philosophy regularly, and in that class, we use classic works in philosophy to help us think through the moral questions that we face in our everyday lives,” Thomason says of the book. “When I was thinking about how to approach this book, it hit me that I should use the same strategy that I use in the classroom. So, I draw on work from the history of philosophy to help answer the question, how do we live well with our bad feelings?”

Thomason was selected for the 35-person cohort from more than 600 applications. “When the VP of scholarly programs called me to tell me I’d been selected, he made sure to tell me that the committee thought my project was excellent philosophical scholarship with a wide appeal,” says Thomason, “which is a huge compliment.” 

Robert D. Newman, president and director of the NHC, said in a statement: “We are proud to support the work of these exceptional scholars. They were selected from an extremely competitive group of applicants, and their work covers a wide gamut of fascinating topics that promises to shape thinking in their fields for years to come. I look forward to welcoming them to the center in the fall.”

The in-residence fellowship will take Thomason off the Swarthmore campus, but she doesn’t anticipate that much change in the environment. 

“Being in a liberal arts college environment means you’re able to communicate what is significant or interesting about your work to people who don’t necessarily think like you do. It also means that you know how to learn from colleagues in different fields and that you value different scholarly approaches,” she says. “I’ll be with top-notch humanities scholars from a wide range of disciplines, so it’s not that different from my normal life at Swarthmore.”

The NHC is the only independent institute dedicated exclusively to advanced study in all areas of the humanities. Through its residential fellowship program, education programs, and public engagement, the NHC promotes understanding of the humanities and advocates for their foundational role in a democratic society.

[This blog post was reposted from the Swarthmore News and Event page and was written by Nora Kelly.]