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The Uni­versity of Bonn in Bonn, Germany | Wiki­media Commons

Kirsten Anderson cares about ancient Christian philoso­phers so much, she traveled overseas to study them.

Anderson ’12 is a recipient of the Ful­bright Schol­arship, an inter­na­tional student-exchange program that pro­vides a grant to U.S. stu­dents to assist in research projects or English teaching assistant pro­grams. She is cur­rently at the Uni­versity of Bonn in Germany, where she will be studying the rela­tionship between Chris­tianity and ancient philosopher Gregory of Nyssa as part of pre­lim­inary research for her doc­torate at Uni­versity of Notre Dame.

The Ful­bright Schol­arship is a fed­erally-funded schol­arship ded­i­cated to helping recip­ients engage in other cul­tures and facil­itate research. It funds recent grad­uates, young pro­fes­sionals, and graduate stu­dents. The program operates in more than 160 coun­tries and cur­rently funds nearly 2,000 recip­ients, as of this year.

Gregory of Nyssa was a fourth-century his­torian and the­ologian. Anderson is con­cerned with his thoughts on the meta­physics of non-being and its con­nection to evil.

Anderson said she first became inter­ested in phi­losophy in a freshman English class when her pro­fessor gave a lecture about onto­logical goodness. She even­tually did her senior thesis on Gregory of Nyssa’s brother.

“That was a doorway into this world,” she said.

Anderson is the sixth Hillsdale graduate to receive the Ful­bright Schol­arship since 2010, according to the school. She received her bachelor’s degree in Greek in 2012.

“She was an out­standing student during her time at Hillsdale College,” said Joseph Gar­njobst, chairman and pro­fessor of classics, in a press release. “The work she will be doing in Germany is the natural extension of the work that she has done both at Hillsdale and at Notre Dame on the inter­section of phi­losophy and the­ology in Pla­tonic phi­losophy and Gregory of Nyssa.”

Anderson said part of the reason she wanted to travel to study Gregory of Nyssa is that many U.S. aca­d­emics don’t study late antique Christian philoso­phers and the­olo­gians in the same way as aca­d­emics in Europe. Many ancient philoso­phers and the­olo­gians are studied only by the­ology depart­ments, she said.

“They’re not taken as seri­ously in a lot of philo­sophical depart­ments in the U.S.,” Anderson said. “You can study them in the­o­logical pro­grams, but you may not be asking philo­sophical ques­tions.”

Jordan Wales, assistant pro­fessor of the­ology, said Gregory of Nyssa is often not studied in phi­losophy depart­ments because of the way he views Chris­tianity.

“For Gregory of Nyssa, phi­losophy is not dis­tinct from the­ology,” Wales said. “For him, there is no accurate or com­plete phi­losophy that does not include Christ.”

But, he said, studying Gregory of Nyssa in a philo­sophical manner is a dif­ferent way of approaching his thought.

“It’s going to introduce ways of talking about things like the problem of evil that require an expansion or alter­ation of standard philo­sophical cat­e­gories,” Wales said.