If there is a philosophy event on the University of Washington campus, chances are high that you will find Dan Gerler there. Dan (BA, Philosophy & Psychology, 1983) is a proud alumnus of the Department of Philosophy, and serves as one of the longest standing members of the Department’s Advisory Board. Dan’s deep connection with the Department, enthusiasm for philosophy, and quick, questioning intellect has led to many conversations with faculty over the years. Through these discussions, Dan became convinced of the need for programs to bring philosophical perspectives and questioning to the larger public, which led him to establish the Dan Gerler Faculty Fellowships. The fellowships offer annual funding for UW Philosophy faculty members to pursue and engage the community in innovative and important research topics.
The idea for the fellowships arose in part from a number of events held by the Department of Philosophy, including the annual Benjamin Rabinowitz Symposium in Medical Ethics, which has been attended by hundreds in the medical community over the past seven years. Allowing clinical workers to have meaningful philosophical discussions about their work in such areas as pain management, dementia, and psychiatric diagnosis, these symposiums demonstrate the practical importance of a philosophical perspective in addressing tough questions in medicine and illuminating the implications of difficult and important dilemmas. Dan was also inspired by the Department’s recent lunchtime event series about the many philosophical aspects of the Syrian migration crisis, which illustrated the ways a philosophical lens can lead to powerful conversations about current events. Dan wants to encourage further innovative philosophical thinking, while providing opportunities for more community members to get involved in these kinds of conversations.
Faculty Fellows will be provided time off from teaching as well as resources to pursue intensive research projects over the span of two years. In the second year, Fellows will launch a community activity to engage the public in the faculty member’s philosophical research. Activities might include films, lectures, and workshops, and are intended to enhance the national conversation around important issues.
In addition to the Faculty Fellowships, Dan gave a significant gift this year to help the Department continue its work with the Center for Philosophy for Children. Dan’s gift will fully support two Philosophy for Children Fellows for four years enabling the Center to continue to expand its work teaching philosophy in primary and secondary schools in Seattle.
Michael Rosenthal, Department of Philosophy Chair, notes that, “Dan is the model of an engaged alumnus and donor. He attends talks and classes. He is passionate about the importance of learning and philosophy in contemporary affairs. In his role on our advisory board he has provided constant advice and support. He wanted to make a gift that would make a real difference in the Department. We talked and this is the result. This fellowship will provide a wonderful opportunity for some of our most creative faculty to develop their research. Dan is also helping us continue our important work with the Center for Philosophy for Children. Our Department aims to do it all: produce cutting-edge research and stimulate critical thinking among all members of our community, from elementary school students to undergraduates to alumni. Dan’s gift expands the depth and breadth of our work as philosophers. We are very grateful."
We are honored by Dan’s generosity, as well as his continued dedication to the department as a member of our advisory board. We look forward to sharing the work of the Dan Gerler Faculty Fellows with the University of Washington community and beyond.