Nath Earns Top Humanities Award

Philosophy Professor Wins Whetstone/Seamon Faculty Development Award

Dr. Rekha Nath
Dr. Rekha Nath

Dr. Rekha Nath, a professor in the Department of Philosophy, was awarded the Whetstone/Seaman Faculty Development Award by the Alabama Humanities Foundation (AHF). The AHF and the David Mathews Center for Civic Life will host a symposium June 26 to recognize Nath’s achievement as well as engage the public on issues of civic life.

Nath won the top award by submitting an essay to the AHF’s biennial essay competition open to all non-tenured humanities scholars from Alabama colleges and universities. A jury of humanities scholars selected the top six essays that addressed the topic “Overcoming Polarization toward Building a Common Future.” Nath’s winning entry will be published in AHF’s online journal, Alabama Humanities Review, and she will receive a $3,000 scholar development grant.

Nath’s essay, “‘Overcoming Polarization: Why and How?” outlines ways polarization can be helpful and harmful, but she points toward a notion of shared responsibility as key to overcoming it. As she states in her paper, there is value in disagreement. “Where perspectives clash, the parties to a disagreement may engage in a process of collective learning and profit from their differences,” she writes. In the essay, she concludes that finding common ground and working in concert with one another while respecting the differences is the way to navigate through these social entanglements.

Her essay is part of a larger research project involving social justice. In her research and teaching, Nath has integrated philosophical theorizing about social justice with on-going practical concerns that face society. She has accomplished this by developing a service-learning course with local community organizations. Nath says she plans to use this grant money to support continued research and curriculum development on topics in social and political philosophy.

The 2013 Whetstone/Seaman Symposium, which will be held in UA’s Ferguson Theater from 9 a.m. to noon, is open to the public. In addition to the recognition of the winner of the Whetstone/Seaman award, the symposium will serve as an opportunity for public deliberation on the topic, “Shaping Our Future: How Should Higher Education Help Us Create the Society We Want?”

Additional speakers at the symposium include Chris McCauley, executive director of the David Mathews Center and Mark Wilson, director of Civic Learning Initiatives, College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University.

The Whetstone/Seaman Faculty Development Award is funded by Dr. Bob Whetstone; his wife, Janelle Whetstone; and his sister, Janet Seaman and aims to engage emerging scholars in the state in promoting humanities throughout the state.