West campus alumni engage in global dialogues at international philosophy conference

By

Associate Dean, Dr. Ramsey Eric Ramsey

Five recent graduates from ASU's West campus and Barrett, the Honors College, accompanied Associate Dean Dr. Ramsey Eric Ramsey and Barrett faculty member Dr. Diane Gruber to the International Institute for Hermeneutics (IIH) Summer School held in Krakow, Poland from May 15-19, 2017. The students presented their original scholarship in the field of interpretive philosophy to a community of international scholars.

Preston Adcock, Yessica Del Rincón, Adam Goldsmith, Raelynn Gosse, and Sarah Seitz – graduates of ASU's New College for Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and the W.P. Carey School of Business – were invited by Dr. Ramsey, a Senior Associate Fellow of the Institute, to this annual gathering designed to nurture and provide a public forum for the next generation of hermeneutic philosophers.

Scholars from Canada, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, and the United States gathered for the five-day conference – entitled "Difficult Memory, Forgiving and Forgetting: Education toward Hospitality, Acknowledging, and Respecting" – to share not only their research in a series of conference sessions, but also meals, ideas, and conversations on the campus of the Jesuit University of Philosophy and Education Ignatianum.

For each of the participants, the opportunity to work closely with scholars from around the world added a new dimension to their own research. Del Rincón, the New College Outstanding Undergraduate for the Class of 2014, explained, “Presenting my work in philosophy and critical theory at an international venue encouraged me to think about our culturally and politically complex world. Gathering with other students at the conference to pursue these intellectual endeavors revealed to me the joy in learning we might encounter when words and worlds meet.”

Gosse added, “It was wonderful to travel with a small portion of the Barrett West community to such an event in such a place. I found that being immersed in another culture with a group of people from all around the globe truly lent a different and generative perspective to the conference’s theme of hermeneutic hospitality. I will forever be grateful for the chance to meet scholars and thinkers I otherwise would not have, and to work and grow together for an entire week in a city with rich historical and cultural backgrounds related to the conference.”

The participants explained how their undergraduate experiences in Barrett, The Honors College laid the foundation for their participation in the summer school community.  Goldsmith, who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in the philosophy of communication at the University of Maine, said, “My Barrett education greatly prepared me both for graduate school and this conference. Particularly, I was surprised (though relieved) at how well I acclimated to the graduate-seminar style. It was just like the Human Event in structure (except for hundreds of pages of more reading and writing!). In essence, the same conduct leads to success in graduate school as in Barrett: read well, speak well, and write well, and do all of this with one another. This reconfirmed my experience at Barrett: the best work gets done when you are with a community there to support you and that you support as well.”

Gosse, who is earning a doctoral degree in English Literature at the University of Texas at Austin, added, “The IIH conference supplemented the hermeneutic endeavors begun in my undergraduate work and provided an opportunity to continue building on these ideas as I move forward.” The 2016 New College Outstanding Undergraduate continued, “Barrett West taught me how to be a better scholar, writer, peer, and person, to welcome challenges imposed by difficult research and to embrace the work of others as I pursue my own degree.”

Adcock, who will begin graduate work in communication and philosophy at the University of North Carolina this fall, explained how the experience would shape his role as a Barrett alumni and future educator. “The discussions and presentations provided me with an understanding of how to be a better student, friend, community member, and teacher. The conference’s themes of hospitality, acknowledgement and respect – of opening a space for people to speak for themselves – allowed me to continue to cultivate myself as a conversation partner for those working on their honors theses and for those undergraduates I will teach.”

Seitz, a May 2017 graduate of W.P. Carey, summed up the conference theme and experience: “I think hermeneutics and the IIH play large roles in making our world more cosmopolitan. When students are introduced to hermeneutics and begin to study a way of thinking that encourages being open to different interpretations, this will ultimately make our world better. We need the other, we need relationships and friends, and hermeneutics is one way of thinking that teaches this to us.”