John Rudisill

John Rudisill


John Rudisill Wins National Award for Article on Teaching Philosophy

Lenssen Prize singles out Wooster professor's effort from a field of 180 contenders

February 14, 2012 by John Hopkins

WOOSTER, Ohio, Feb. 14, 2012 – John Rudisill, associate professor of philosophy at The College of Wooster has won the 2012 Lenssen Prize from the American Association of Philosophy Teachers. The award recognizes the best research article about teaching and learning in philosophy published in the last two years.

Rudisill’s paper, “The Transition from Studying Philosophy to Doing Philosophy,” was published in the Sept. 2011 issue of Teaching Philosophy. The prize committee selected it from a field of approximately 180 articles published in U.S. and international journals.

In his article, Rudisill draws a clear distinction between studying philosophy, which he describes as answering questions like “what biographical, cultural, or intellectual influences help explain a particular philosopher’s commitment to some thesis?” and actually doing philosophy.

“A student who ‘does philosophy’ is a student who, in a self-directed way, exercises a set of intellectual skills in the service of reaching greater clarity with respect to a broad range of issues,” he writes.

Rudisill describes how the Wooster philosophy curriculum, and in particular, a required junior-year seminar in philosophical research, helps students develop those skills, which include interpretation and analysis, critical assessment of arguments and ideas, and effectively communicating a new approach to a puzzling issue.

These are, Rudisill writes, “the sorts of skills [students] would ideally carry with them, and from which they would benefit, long after graduation…They are of tremendous value to both professional and communal aspects of an adult life.”

Rudisill specializes in social and political philosophy and theoretical ethics, and chairs the college’s pre-law advising program. A member of the Wooster faculty since 2005, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Coe College and a doctorate from the University of Iowa.

The College of Wooster is America’s premier college for mentored undergraduate research. Wooster offers an excellent, comprehensive liberal arts education, culminating in a rigorous senior project, in which each student works one-on-one with a faculty mentor to conceive, organize and complete a significant research project on a topic of the student’s own choosing. Through this distinctive program, every Wooster student develops abilities valued by employers and graduate schools alike: independent judgment, analytical ability, creativity, project-management and time-management skills, and strong written and oral communication skills. Founded in 1866, the college enrolls approximately 2,000 students.