Newsletter -  Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies

University of North Florida, Fall 2014-Spring 2015

Department News

  • The Department welcomes Dr. Aaron Creller as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy for the academic year 2014/2015. Prof. Creller, who supported us as an adjunct professor in previous years, received his PhD from the University of Hawai’i in summer 2014. He is an expert of Philosophy of Science, Modern Philosophy, as well as Eastern and Middle Eastern Thought. He is teaching the core course in Modern Philosophy, as well as Science as Objectivity, Understanding Religious Texts, and Intro to Philosophy & Contemporary Ethical Issues.
  • The Department offers a “Philosophy & Religious Studies Event Cluster,” featuring a wide variety of conferences, symposia, lectures, as well as student and program-related events. For a list of recent as well as forthcoming happenings, please consult the link to News & Events on our departmental Homepage; major events include: 
    • The 18th Annual Northeast Florida Student Philosophy Conference. 
    • The seventh annual Pediatric Bioethics Conference held at UNF’s University Center. 
    • The seventh John C. Maraldo Lecture in Comparative Philosophy. 
  •  The Department’s Ethics Bowl team became a semi-finalist in the nationally competitive challenge, advancing as a state winner to the third place in the nation! 
  • The Department continues to offer its unique General Education courses as part of the new General Education Program at UNF. The Department’s widely recognized and well enrolled courses include Introduction to Philosophy, Contemporary Ethical Issues, & Reasoning and Critical Thinking (in Philosophy), and Comparative Religion (in Religious Studies. The courses are exemplary in developing critical thinking skills. They are also part of the Gordon Rule writing requirement. The relatively small course settings (enrollment caps at 27 or 35, with breakout sections at the same small size for larger lectures) foster both academic and social integration into the new UNF communities, thereby easing the transition from high school to college.
  • The Department graduated its first majors in the new BA in Religious Studies! In 2012, the Department successfully implemented its new BA in Religious Studies and continues to grow its new major. Make sure you check out all the new course listings, and also the special events and lectures associated with Religious Studies at UNF!
  • The Department successfully completed the initial development phase for its Engaged Department Grant from UNF’s Center for Community-based Transformational Learning and now continues to build strength in community-based learning and research. The department is planning to engage in a Philosophy for Children (P4C) initiative starting with some first sessions in fall 2015.



Student News

Departmental Awards

The 2014 Outstanding Graduate in Religious Studies

  • Kelly Fyke

The 2014 Robert W. Loftin Prize for Outstanding Graduate in Philosophy  

  • Lucas Worsham    

Philosophy Paper Prize

  • Joy Bagwell: "Atomism"   

Graduate Student Paper Prize  

  • Ben Kenofer:   “Overcoming Parochialism: A Critical Ethics of Care and Epistemic Injustice”

Religious Studies Paper Prize

  • Carrie Tidwell :  “The Huichol and the Mexican State: Their Struggles to Maintain Religious Traditions”

The UNF Philosophy Ethics Bowl team became a semi-finalist in the nationally competitive challenge, advancing as a state winner to the third place in the nation! 


Honors Theses since 2012

  • Jennifer Albertson, “Plato’s Theory of Forms Defended: A Solution to the Problem of Participation” Philosophy, Spring 2012;
  • Tim Dacey, “On Belief, Knowledge and Truth: A Study of the Discourse Between Evolutionary Theory and Religious Epistemology,” Anthropology (Philosophy Minor), Spring 2012
  • Michael Dufresne "Art as Person: Correlative Personhood in Aesthetic Representation", Philosophy, Spring 2014

Student Placements since 2011 (BA and MA Philosophy)


In 2014:   

  • Chris Byron (MA 2014) : Accepted with funding to University Georgia Graduate Program
  • Benjamin Kenofer (MA 2014): Accepted with funding to Michigan State Ph.D. Program. 
  • Michael Dufresne (BA Honors 2014): accepted at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa to begin pursuit of an M.A. in Philosophy. 
  • Jessica Reddy (BA 2013): Accepted with funding to attend the University of Memphis’ M.A. in philosophy. 
  • Scott Young (BA Phil & BA Religious Studies) has been admitted to the Philosophy M.A. Program at UNF. 

Last few years: 

  • Theodore Locke (BA 2012) was accepted to the PhD program at the University of Miami.
  • Daniel Ryan accepted to UF medical school.
  • Matthew Lamb (BA 2012) was accepted to the MA program in Philosophy at Colorado State University.
  • Aaron Kenna (BA 2011) was accepted to the PhD program at the University of Utah.
  • Andrew Vlcek (UNF Honors student philosophy) was accepted to the MA program in Philosophy at St. Johns University in Maryland.
  • Andrew Brenner (BA 2012) was accepted to the PhD program in Philosophy at Notre Dame.
  • Sean Borelli (MA student philosophy UNF) was accepted with funding to the PhD program in philosophy at FSU
  • Ben Hoffman (MA 2011) was accepted to the PhD in philosophy at the University of Hawai’i.
  • Melissa Schwartz (MA 2012) was accepted to the Virginia Tech’s PhD program ASPECT.
  • Jeffrey Haines (UNF Honors BA Philosophy 2006) was accepted to the PhD Program in Philosophy at FSU.
  • Paul DiGeorgio (UNF Honors BA Philosophy) was accepted to the PhD program at Duquesne University
  • Tara Mantovani-Stamm (MA 2009) is receiving her PHD in August from the Sociology Program at FSU. 

Philosophy & Religious Studies Prize Winners


  • Brad Beall was selected for a Phi Beta Kappa scholarship.  
  • Theodore Locke, UNF philosophy major, won the Florida Philosophical Association’s Gerrit Schipper Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Paper in the State of Florida in a Four-Year College or University for the essay: “” in 2011.
  • Aaron Kenna, UNF philosophy major, won the Florida Philosophical Association’s Gerrit Schipper Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Paper in the State of Florida in a Four-Year College or University for the essay: “In Defense of Positive Relevance: A Reply to Peter Achinstein” in 2010.
  • In 2009, Andrew Brenner, UNF philosophy major, won the Florida Philosophical Association’s Gerrit Schipper Prizefor Outstanding Undergraduate Paper in the State of Florida in a Four-Year College or Universityfor the essay: “Aquinas on Eternity, Tense, and Temporal Becoming.”


Student Conference Presentations & Publications


Chris Byron:

  • "A Critique of Sean Sayers' Marxian Theory of Human Nature" in Science and Society, Vol 78, no 2. April, 2014. 
  • "The Normative Force Behind Marx's Theory of Alienation" in Critique: A Journal of Socialist Theory, Vol 41, no 3, August, 2013. 
  • “Attempting to Reconcile the Irreconcilable: Althusser’s Ideology and Honneth’s Monism” in Decalages: An Althusserian Studies Journal, (Forthcoming). 
  • Reification: A New Look at an Old Idea. Axel Honneth, Studies in Social and Political Thought, Vol 21, Summer 2013.
  • Philosophy for Militants. Alain Badiou, Science and Society, Vol 77, No 1. January, 2014. 
  • Dangerous Liaisons: The Marriages and Divorces of Marxism and Feminism, Marx and Philosophy Review of Books 
  • “The Normative Force Behind Marx’s Theory of Alienation.” Third Annual UGA-Graduate Philosophy Student Conference. University of Georgia, March 22, 2013. 
  • “The Normative Force Behind Marx’s Theory of Alienation.” Society of Women's Advancement in Philosophy's Annual Conference. Florida State University, March 29, 2013. 

Jeannemarie Celentano Halleck:

  • “’E Pluribus Unum’: The Search for Civility in America,” Midwest Political Science Assn, Chicago, April 2014.  
  • Selected as participant in 2014 Institute of Civic Studies at Tufts University, July 2014. 

Leila Youssef:

  • “Synthesizing, Syncretizing, and Swinging ‘Philosophy’: Unaccredited Bodies of Wisdom-Love,"  23rd Annual British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies Conference, Georgia Southern University, Feb 2014 

David Leto:

  • “Rescuing Pocahontas from John Smith: A Survey of Indian Responses to the Pocahontas Myth” (accepted to) Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion. 

John Campell:   

  • “Finding Ourselves: The Modern Religious Struggle of the Eastern Kituwah” (accepted to) The Religion and Culture Undergraduate Conference at Syracuse University.  

Joy Bagwell,

  • “Creating Targeted and Proactive Cybersecurity Policies.” Presented at 2014 SOARS Conference, Jacksonville, FL (April 2014).   

Sean Rech,

  • “Moral Responsibility at the Crossroads of Ethics and Epistemology.” Presented at 2014 SOARS Conference, Jacksonville, FL (April 2014). 
  • “Zombies and Consciousness” Presented at the 17th Annual Northeast Florida Student Philosophy Conference, Jacksonville, Florida (February 2014).   

Katelyn Hallman,

  • “What’s is it Like to be a Reductive Materialist?” Presented at 2014 SOARS Conference, Jacksonville, FL (April 2014).    
  • “The Path to Becoming a Monster: An Analysis of Social Corruption” Presented at the 17th Annual Northeast Florida Student Philosophy Conference, Jacksonville, Florida (February 2014); presented at the Georgia Southern University Phi Sigma Tau Philosophical Society Undergraduate Philosophy Conference, Statesboro, Georgia (April 2014). 

Aaron Fortier,

  • “Epistemic Justification.” Presented at 2014 Florida Undergraduate Research Council, Miami, Florida (February 2014); presented at 2014 SOARS Conference, Jacksonville, FL (April 2014). 

Michael Dufresne:

  • Honors Thesis, presented at the 2014 SOARS conference.     
  • “Art as Person: Correlative Personhood in Aesthetic Representation”, presented at the 2014 SOARS Conference (award for Excellence in Presentation). 


Graduate Program News


The MA in Practical Philosophy & Applied Ethics welcomes its new incoming class of 2014, as well as its returning graduate students, from Florida and throughout the country and world.


The following MA theses and internships were completed in the last five years:

Specifically in 2013 – 2014:

  • Olga Provencher “Ecofeminism and Religion: Christianity and the Ethical Approach to the Environment” December 2013 
  • Jamie Kristen Ayres “Inscriptions of Power: An Argument Against Traditional Gender Roles in Contemporary Culture” December 2013 
  • Christopher Byron “Critically Approaching Real Capabilities” April 2014  
  • Jeannemarie Curran Halleck “E Pluribus Unum? Liberalism and the Search for Civility in America,” April 2014 
  • Holly Masturzo  “Developing A Learning Workplace: The Ethical Function of Participation for Improvement Processes in Higher Education” April 2014 
  • Holly Swantek  “Seeing the Girl” at the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center Working to Champion Girls’ Rights and Solve Gender Inequality in the Juvenile Justice System” April 2014 


Since 2009:

  • Dathan Kahn Auerbach “Now I Am Become Internet, The Destroyer of Selves: The Destruction of Identity Coherence through Electronic Socialization” April 2009
  • Cathleen Jensen-Gall “UNF’s Institutional Review: An Internship Report” April 2009
  • Sarah Fernandez “A Theory of Cultural Glocality” June 2009
  • Meghan Orman, "Reinventing Political Participation: Democracy and Education in the Early 21st Century," Spring 2011
  • Michael Bailey, “The Role of Consensus in the Neutrality/Advocacy Debate,” Summer 2011
  • Benjamin Hoffman, “Reflexivity and Social Phenomenology,” Summer 2011
  • Drew Dixon Taking Ethical Theory to Practical Application in Business December 2011
  • Melissa Schwartz Embodied Ethics: Transformation, Care, and Activism through Artistic Engagement April 2012
  • Lorivie Apabo Advertising the Self: The Importance of Being Authentic and Creating an Authentic Self April 2012
  • Jeanette Hoekstra-Berk The Voice of Deliberation April 2013
  • Tyler Andrews Fair Play: an Ethical Evaluation of the NCAA’s Treatment of Student Athletes April 2013
  • Olga Provencher Ecofeminism and Religion: Christianity and the Ethical Approach to the Environment December 2013
  • Jamie Kristen Ayres Inscriptions of Power: An Argument Against Traditional Gender Roles in Contemporary Culture December 2013


In 2011, the College of Arts& Sciences Dean’s Outstanding Master’s Degree Thesis Recognition was awarded to Benjamin Hoffman for his MA thesis “Reflexivity and Social Reflexivity.” 




Faculty News


Andrew Buchwalter is on sabbatical during the 2014-15 academic year, preparing a book provisionally entitled “The Concept and Reality of Human Rights.”   His essay “Hegel and Marx” was published in Michael Baur (ed.), Hegel: Key Concepts (Routledge, 2014).  The essay “Hegel, Arendt, und ‘das Recht, Rechte zu haben,’” is forthcoming in Hegel-JahrbuchHis edited anthology “Hegel and Capitalism” is planned for 2015 publication with SUNY Press.  His “Hegel and 'the Ethicality in Civil Society’” will be published in David James (ed.) Cambridge Critical Guide to Hegel's Philosophy of Right.  A German version of this paper will appear in Christoph Schmidt am Busch (ed.) Die Philosophie des Marktes ( Felix Meiner Verlag). In May 2014 he presented “Human Right, Democracy, and Global Interculturality” at the “Philosophy and Social Science” conference in Prague Czech Republic and “La pobreza y la concepcion hegeliana del derecho como eticidad reflexive” to the Philosophy Department, Autonomous University of Madrid in Spain.  In July he presented “Human Rights, Global Governance, and Democracy,” at International Political Science Assn. meeting, Montreal, July 2014.  Fall 2014 presentations include “Human Rights, Democracy, and the Idea of a Transnational Public Sphere,” Association of Political Theory Conference, University of Wisconsin Madison and “Critique of the Non-Metaphysical Reading of Hegel’s Practical Philosophy,” Hegel Society of American Biannual Conference, Northwestern University.  He is a participant in the 2014-17 international research project "The Future of Europe" spearheaded by the Autonomous University Madrid and funded by the Spanish government. While on sabbatical he will continue to serve as a thesis supervisor and committee member for the Practical Philosophy and Applied Ethics MA program.


Paul Carelli is finishing final revisions for the publication of his paper, "Psychic Representation in Plato’s Phaedrus." He will be presenting his paper “The Courage of Conviction: Andreia as Precondition for Philosophic Examination in Plato’s Protagoras and Republic” at the 32nd annual joint meeting of the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy (SAGP) with The Society for the Study of Islamic Philosophy and Science (SSIPS). He's also teaching a new course on Philosophies of India that he developed over the summer on a COAS Summer Teaching Grant as well as actively recruiting students with Sarah Mattice for the China in Context Study Abroad to take place in Summer 2015.


Brandi Denison spent the summer revising her manuscript Remove, Return, Remember: Reconciliation and Ute Land Religion in the American West, which is under contract with the University of Nebraska Press. The manuscript builds on archival research conducted in four states, as well as oral history interviews with members of the Ute nation. She presented her research at the Western Historical Association and was success at proposing a Religion in the American West group through the American Academy of Religion. The formation of this group represents the first time this subfield has an institutionalized home. She is currently serving as a section co-editor for the Religion in the Americas section of _Religion Compass_, an online, peer reviewed journal. She stepped down from her role as co-editor of the Religion in the American West blog, although she continues to submit occasional pieces to the site. This year, she will submit her completed manuscript as well as complete several journal articles on various aspects of religion in the American West.


Erinn Gilson’s book, The Ethics of Vulnerability: a feminist analysis of social life and practice, was published by Routledge in January 2014. Two of her articles on the ethics and politics of food are forthcoming this Fall: “Vote with Your Fork?: Responsibility for Food Justice” in Social Philosophy Today and “Vulnerability, Relationality, and Dependency: Feminist Conceptual Resources for Food Justice” in a special issue on Just Food in the International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics. Her essay, “Intersubjective Vulnerability, Ignorance, and Sexual Violence,” will be published in The Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies, ed. Mattias Gros and Linsey McGooey (Routledge, 2015). She also looks forward to presenting her ongoing research on vulnerability, victimization, and sexual violence at the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy in October 2014 and at a Symposium on “Vulnerability, Precarity, and Human Rights” at George Mason University in September 2014. Currently, she is enjoying working with graduate students in her new role as graduate coordinator, and teaching courses on existentialism and practical philosophy.


Mitch Haney authored,“The Community of Sanity in the Age of the Meme,” and he co-authored with Alan Albarran (University of North Texas), “Serving the Market or Market-Place? The Business and Ethics of Social Media.” Both essays will appear in Social Media and Living Well (Lexington Books, forthcoming this fall), which Mitch has co-edited with Berrin Beasley (Communications Studies, UNF). Mitch also gave the keynote address at this year's Northeast Florida Student Philosophy Conference on “Serendipity, Sagacity, and the Good Life” which is the basis of his continued research this year, along with his continued work on ethical issues in social media, work life, and the life of leisure. Mitch continues as a co-director of the Florida Blue Center for Ethics.


Julie Ingersoll continues her work on the religious right, the tea party and Islamophobia.  Her new book Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the Christian Reconstruction Movement will be published by Oxford University Press in 2015. She will present "Legitimating Gossip: Wade Clark Rook and the Ethnographic Turn in the Social Scientific Study of Religion" at the 2014 annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion in Indianapolis and "Theocracy, Christian Reconstruction, and the (re)conception of the category 'politics'" and the 2015 International Association for the History of Religions in Erfurt Germany.  Dr. Ingersoll serves as the coordinator of the Religious Studies program and teaches a variety of courses related to the role of religion in American culture.


Bert Koegler worked as chair in many venues, exemplified by the list of Department News at the top of his page. Especially challenging proved the transition to UNF’s new General Education program, in which philosophy & religious studies have maintained strong enrollments as of now. Prof. Koegler kept an active research agenda, publishing a series of essays pertaining to his work in the foundations of critical social theory and interpretation. The papers include Unavoidable Idealizations and the Reality of Symbolic Power, “ in Social Epistemology (SE),  Vol. 27, special issue on Bourdieu & Language, Issue 3, Fall 2013; “The Crisis of a Hermeneutic Ethic,” in Philosophy Today, Vol. 58:1, Winter 2014, pp. 9 – 22 (on-line version published Dec. 2013 by same journal); “A Critique of Dialogue in Philosophical Hermeneutics,” in Journal of Dialogue Studies, London, Vol. 2, April 2014; “Dialogue,” a 3000 word entry in Encyclopedia of Political Thought, ed. Michael Gibson, Blackwell-Smith Publishers, September 2014. In the same month in 2014, Koegler also published the final chapter—titled “Empathy, Dialogue, Critique: How should we understand (inter-)cultural violence?“—in the book The Agon of Interpretations. Towards a Critical Intercultural Hermeneutics, Ming Xie (ed.), U. of Toronto Press, for which his critical hermeneutics was one of the central inspirations. In Spring 2014, he resumed his repeated guest-professorship at the Alpe-Adria University of Austria, Klagenfurt, with a four-day block seminar on “Hermeneutics and the Linguistic Turn.”


Jonathan Matheson’s co-edited volume The Ethics of Belief: individual and Social, was published this year by Oxford University Press, and he is finishing up a manuscript on the epistemic significance of disagreement for Palgrave that will come out in 2015.  His paper “Disagreement and Epistemic Peers” has been accepted for publication in the Oxford Handbooks Online in Philosophy.  His paper “Are Conciliatory Views of Disagreement Self-Defeating?” was published in Social Epistemology, and his paper “Is there a Well-Founded Solution to the Generality Problem?” was published in Philosophical Studies.  In addition to his teaching, he continues to coach the UNF Ethics Bowl team and is the faculty advisor for the UNF Philosophy Club.


Sarah Mattice is teaching Japanese Philosophy, Confucianism, and Zen Buddhism this academic year, as well as working on Philosophy for Children at UNF and partner K-12 schools. During the summer, she presented an essay titled "Mengzi, Metaphor, and Metaphilosophy" at the International Conference on Mencius in Zoucheng, China. Her book, Metaphor and Metaphilosophy: Philosophy as Combat, Play, and Aesthetic Experience, will be published in October, 2014. She will present this year at the American Association of Religion annual conference on "Confucianism, Transcendence, and Secular Categorization". She will also present this spring in Venice, Italy, on "Daoist Borders Between Ethics and Aesthetics: De , Mei , and the Heart-Mind of Radical Passivity". Along with her colleague Paul Carelli, she is also preparing to lead a TLO study abroad program in summer 2015 titled "China in Context: Philosophy and Religious Practice". She is currently writing on issues of pedagogy and Chinese philosophy, the use of the concept of transcendence in comparative philosophy, and on the contemporary Confucian fundamentalist Jiang Qing.


Alissa Hurwitz Swota is lead organizer for the Seventh Annual Pediatric Bioethics Conference, scheduled for November 7, 2014 at the UNF University Center. Dr. Swota is currently putting together a collection of articles, cases, and commentaries that developed out of the  A. David Kline symposium on Pediatric Bioethics and Children's Rights, a program by the UNF Ethics center which she is co-directing. In addition, Dr. Swota is the keynote speaker for the OneJax event on End-Of-Life Decisions scheduled for October 2014. She continues to be highly active in the community as well as the Wolfson Children’s Hospital as the bioethicist.