April 26, 2007
Vol. 26 No. 15

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    New Whiting fellowship rewards junior faculty—Bridges is first recipient

    Josh Schonwald
    News Office

    Jason Bridges, Assistant Professor in Philosophy and the College, is the first recipient of a new fellowship program that rewards junior faculty for their exceptional teaching in the College’s core curriculum.

    The first annual Whiting Foundation Research Fellowship for Excellence in Core Teaching, offered jointly by the Division of the Humanities and the College, not only will provide Bridges with a year of fully funded research leave, but also will fund one year of teaching by a replacement in the Department of Philosophy during his leave.

    Supported by a generous grant from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, the fellowship will be given annually to tenure-track faculty; it is intended to recognize excellent teaching in the Humanities or the Art, Music and Drama cores.

    “The award underscores the important relationship between research and teaching at the University,” said Danielle Allen, Dean of the Division of the Humanities. “We hope with this award to support the constant renewal of our aspiration to be a faculty that excels at both scholarship and pedagogy, providing leadership on both fronts within the world of higher education.”

    Bridges, who studies the philosophy of mind, philosophy of action and related fields in moral philosophy, was nominated for his “superior teaching of Philosophical Perspectives in the Humanities.” He has taught in this sequence since 2001, and has served as its coordinator for the past three years.

    Members of the newly formed Whiting Research Fellowship Committee, including Shadi Bartsch, the Ann L. and Lawrence B. Buttenweiser Professor in Classics and the College, Thomas Christensen, Professor in Music and the College, and Mario Santana, Associate Dean and Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division, chose Bridges to receive the fellowship. “He sets the highest standards for teaching, and we are very grateful for his contributions,” wrote Santana, in announcing the committee’s selection.

    Bridges, who has written on the “naturalization” of mental content, animal cognition and Wittgenstein’s treatment of understanding and related phenomena, will use the Whiting fellowship to focus on his current work, a defense of cognitive reasons for actions.

    “I’m very flattered and pleased,” Bridges said of the award, which came as a surprise. As a pre-tenured faculty member in an elite department at Chicago, Bridges noted that it is critical to focus on research. “The University of Chicago is a research university, and a research university is where I want to be,” he said. “But I’m also a teacher, and teaching well takes time and effort. This award shows that the University puts as great a value on teaching as it does on research, and recognizes the time it requires.”

    The recipient of a Franke Institute for the Humanities fellowship in 2003-2004, Bridges received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2001, and his B.A. from Harvard University in 1994.

    The New York City-based Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation is dedicated to supporting scholarship and teaching in the humanities and creative writing. Beginning in 2001, the foundation implemented the program to recognize outstanding teachers, who must maintain a balance between their teaching and research.