Graduate Student Michael Ball-Blakely chosen for Joff Hanauer Graduate Fellows for Excellence in Western Civilization


Congratulations to Michael Ball-Blakely for being chosen as one of the Simpson Center’s Joff Hanauer Graduate Fellows for Excellence in Western Civilization.  Michael and the interdisciplinary group of 2020-2021 Hanauer Fellows will participate in a year-long seminar exploring the theme, “Environments in the 21st Century: Migration, Climate, Extinction, In/humanness, Non-Humans and Beyond." The award is intended to foster “creative and critical work in the Western cultural tradition and to help prepare teachers from different disciplines who have well-reasoned convictions about the place of Western civilization in the curriculum of an American liberal arts institution.”

The Hanauer Fellows will meet for bi-monthly seminar with Sabine Wilke, Joff Hanauer Distinguished Professor for Western Civilization and professor of Germanics. The seminar will encourage graduate students from diverse disciples across the University to work together and compare the similarities and dissimilarities in their disciplinary perspectives.

 As a critical philosopher Michael is committed to studying and evaluating the normative commitments of Western civilization. As he describes it: 

“The thematic heart of my work is a critical redeployment of the liberal political values of Western culture. That is, though liberal values have been used to invisibilize and perpetuate systems of oppression, I believe that they can be reshaped and redeployed in a way that challenges these systems. Moreover, I believe that doing so is vital for gaining widespread support for emancipatory projects.”

The interdisciplinary Joff Hanauer Graduate Fellowship is a perfect fit for Michael as his philosophical work draws on economics, law, psychology, and sociology – disciplines which Michael sees as inadequately incorporated into philosophy curricula. Similarly, he sees “critical analyses of the tools of liberal political philosophy” as marginalized in academic philosophy. Therefore, pursuit of his dissertation project has required a significant amount of self-study and a commitment to independent investigation.

We are pleased that Michael will further develop his work in conversation with diverse scholars of Western Civilization and we are confident that his contributions will be equally valuable to the other members of the 2020-2021 Hanauer Fellows cohort.

Congratulations Michael!