March 10, 2011

Brown University

Gordon S. Wood

A history professor who has been taught to "accept the limitations of life" by 50 years of study has received the National Humanities Medal, a prestigious US honour. Gordon S. Wood was presented with the award by President Barack Obama for "providing insight into the founding of the nation". The Alva O. Way university professor and emeritus professor of history at Brown University studied as an undergraduate at Tufts University and gained his doctorate at Harvard University. He taught at Harvard and the University of Michigan before joining Brown in 1969. Professor Wood said that those who study history in the hope of learning specific lessons may be disappointed. "After half a century or more of studying history, I don't think there are any easy lessons that you come away with. I think it teaches one big lesson, which I would equate with wisdom - that things don't quite work out the way one intends, and that you have to be willing to accept the limitations of life." He said that he hoped his honour would draw attention to the importance of history, which he said was the "ultimate humanistic discipline...We don't teach history because we want to have history professors. We teach history because it enriches lives."

University of Toronto

Thomas Hurka

Thomas Hurka has been awarded one of eight 2011 Killam research Fellowships by the Canada Council for the Arts. Professor Hurka, Chancellor Henry N.R. Jackman distinguished chair in philosophical studies at the University of Toronto, studied for his first degree at the institution before going on to a DPhil at the University of Oxford. He joined the department of philosophy at the University of Calgary in 1978. While at Calgary, he wrote an ethics column for The Globe and Mail newspaper, a sideline that he described as "great fun". He moved to Toronto in 2002. Professor Hurka said he was grateful to the Canada Council for the Arts for seeing "some merit" in his work and outlined his plans for the fellowship, which will afford him two years away from teaching and administrative work. "I plan to use that to complete a book on a group of British moral philosophers active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and including Henry Sidgwick, G.E. Moore and W.D. Ross," he explained. "Although they're less well known than Aristotle and Kant, their approach to ethical issues was in my view more fruitful. My book will recover their neglected history and show how their work is a model for moral thought today."

University of Victoria

Catherine Mateer

A professor of clinical neuropsychology has become the inaugural recipient of an award that bears her name. The Catherine Mateer Scientist-Practitioner Award, given by the British Columbia Psychological Association, has been named after the University of Victoria scholar in recognition of her work on cognitive rehabilitation for head trauma patients. The award honours researchers who have made significant and distinguished contributions in the field of psychology by using a scientist-practitioner model to bridge the gap from the laboratory to the real world. Professor Mateer said of her work: "I have always tried to use scientific theory and methods to develop new interventions and to evaluate their effectiveness. The work has been rewarding in and of itself, but to be recognised by an award named for me is an incredible honour." She is currently a professor in the department of psychology and associate vice-president for academic planning at Victoria. She joined the institution in 1994 and has served as director of clinical training for its graduate programme and as chair of the psychology department.

University of Exeter

John Dupre

An expert in the interpretation of Darwinian theory has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. John Dupre is professor of the philosophy of science at the University of Exeter and director of Egenis, an Economic and Social Research Council Genomics Network project that researches the social impact of developments in genomic science. He was elected to the AAAS for his contribution to the history and philosophy of science, especially the interpretation of Darwinism. He said he had always aimed to oppose the dogmatic way that evolutionary theory is often presented and insisted that Darwinism remains a rapidly developing area of science. "Darwin was a brilliant scientist, but we have moved beyond him," he said. "I believe that this perspective is essential if Darwin is to be given proper credit as a scientist: science is about the progressive improvement of understanding, not rigid doctrine." Professor Dupre received his PhD from the University of Cambridge and went on to work as a junior research Fellow at St John's College, Oxford for two years. He then moved to Stanford University, where he remained until 1996. He returned to the UK to become professor of philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London and senior research Fellow at Exeter, where he was appointed professor in 2000.


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The University of Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory has appointed James Stirling, currently Jacksonian professor of natural philosophy at the institution, as its head of department.

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Newman University College has chosen Mairtin Mac An Ghaill to take up the newly created post of professor of multiprofessional education. He was previously professor of sociology at the University of Birmingham.

Stephen Craig, chief executive of fashion retailer AllSaints, has been made an honorary professor by Glasgow Caledonian University.

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