The Marc Sanders Foundation recently awarded Paul Rezkalla, postdoctoral research fellow at Hillsdale College, a Marc Sanders Prize in “Philosophy in the Media.”
The “Philosophy in the Media” program strives to train philosophers to be better equipped to increase the presence of philosophy in the media world, such as podcasts, journalism, and video media. Its goal is to provide philosophers with the means to become good public philosophy writers.
Ian Church, assistant professor of philosophy, said the Marc Sanders Foundation grants competitive awards to advance critical thinking to help people become better philosophers.
“The foundation believes, and I’m inclined to agree, that one of philosophy’s central aims is to promote good critical thinking skills,” Church said. “To these ends, the Marc Sanders Foundation aims to promote excellence in philosophy through a range of prestigious awards.”
According to Church, the Marc Sanders awards are highly competitive and prestigious. Rezkalla’s award shows he is an “up-and-coming leader” in philosophy, Church said.
Rezkalla said he is very excited to represent Hillsdale College and see the positive impact this will have on Hillsdale in the academic world.
“I’m very excited to represent Hillsdale alongside other distinguished fellows from elite institutions, like Princeton and Northwestern,” Rezkalla said. “Not only does this increase Hillsdale’s visibility on the academic map, but it’s also a positive witness for all the great work we do here in shaping students’ hearts and minds.”
Rezkalla said the fellowship will give him the opportunity to work with the head opinions editor for the New York Times, James Ryerson, as well as other philosophers and fellows who are “working on bringing cutting-edge philosophy to the public arena.”
Rezkalla said he applied to the fellowship because he cares about helping others think well about important ethical issues. The fellowship will better equip Rezkalla to write and publish philosophy that will be interesting for many readers, he said.
“For me, philosophy is a way of life. It’s about living well,” he said. “I love reading public philosophy in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New Yorker, Aeon, etc. Writing like that isn’t easy. It’s a skillset that I don’t have yet. I’m excited to get better at it.”
Church explained what this award means for the philosophy department and Hillsdale as a whole.
“This is a significant feather in our proverbial cap,” Church said. “Having Dr. Rezkalla at the college boosts our presence and prominence within the field and the public stage, and given his trajectory as a scholar, I think this is only the beginning of good things coming his direction.”
Rezkalla said he is grateful for his colleagues in the philosophy department who have helped him grow as an individual and think better about the topics he writes about. He hopes to expand the department’s reputation in the academic arena and “potentially attract more high-quality students to our program,” he said.
Lee Cole, chairman and associate professor of philosophy, said Rezkalla’s award is fitting because of his passions.
“He clearly has a deep and infectious passion for philosophy, and he’s thinking about some of the most significant issues that face our culture,” Cole said. “It seems wholly appropriate that an organization committed to the relevance of philosophy for the sake of a healthy society would think highly of Dr. Rezkalla.”
Cole said that Rezkalla’s expertise in various different areas honors both the philosophy department and Hillsdale College as a whole.
“The expertise that he possesses regarding the intersection of philosophy, theology, ethics, and science is a boon to our department and to the life of the College more generally,” Cole said. “What’s more, his intellectual qualities are wedded to an amiable and well-grounded disposition.”
Rezkalla said he is grateful for this opportunity because public philosophy is something he has wanted to pursue for quite some time but he did not know where to start.
“I hope to have at least a couple of op-eds successfully written, pitched, and published by the end of my fellowship,” Rezkalla said. “And hopefully, this is only the beginning of a life-long career in public philosophy.”