HPU Professor of Philosophy Awarded Grant to Develop New First-Year Seminar on Conscience


HIGH POINT, N.C., May 5, 2014 – Dr. Amy MacArthur, assistant professor of philosophy at High Point University, was recently awarded a $22,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities under the Enduring Questions program.

MacArthur, who was awarded the maximum amount for an individual, will use the grant to research and develop a college-level course that addresses an enduring question in humanities – “What is Conscience?” She will offer the course as a First-Year Seminar over the next two years.

The NEH Enduring Questions grant program helps to support faculty members who will teach and develop new courses that will foster intellectual community through the study of an “enduring question” – which includes topics such as “What is friendship?”, “What is evil?” and more. The object is to encourage students and teachers to grapple with a fundamental concern for human life by joining together in a deep and sustained program of reading to explore the influential thinkers over the centuries and into the present day.

“Nearly everyone believes that we have a conscience, and it is frequently appealed to in the fields of philosophy, religion, psychology and political theory,” MacArthur says. “Upon reflection, however, what is meant by ‘conscience’ is not so clear, and there are two main objectives of the course.”

The first objective, according to the grant proposal, will explore and critically examine the various conceptions of conscience that have been proposed by the great thinkers in the western philosophical and religious traditions. The second aim is to recognize the ways in which questions such as “What is conscience?” are indeed enduring questions that continue to demand reflection and reconsideration.

“We will achieve these objectives by closely reading primary sources, writing a number of critical papers and completing a capstone project where students will demonstrate the application and relevance of the issues of the course to a topic, event or movement in recent history,” MacArthur explains.

“I would not have received this award without the help of Tim Linker, director of Research Administration and Sponsored Programs at HPU,” MacArthur adds. “He was truly crucial in my grant application – he not only identified the grant opportunity, but also helped prepare the proposal. Without his assistance, I would not have this remarkable opportunity to share with HPU students.”

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