Four Maxwell School alumni are among 39 public administration leaders who have been named 2021 National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) Fellows. NAPA is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan organization established in 1967 to assist government leaders in building more…
SOURCE Spinoza Award Supports Interdisciplinary Inquiry
Through the continuing generosity of alumnus William Hrushesky, M.D. (B.A. ’69), the Syracuse Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative engagement (The SOURCE) offers the Spinoza Award to fund undergraduate work that explores philosophical aspects of issues that arise within the sciences or other professional disciplines. Three students have received this award thus far.
Dr. Hrushesky, a distinguished clinician and medical researcher, studied philosophy as an undergraduate at Syracuse, and especially admired the intellectual rigor, scope and independent thinking in the work of the renowned 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza, after whom this award is named. Spinoza was a brilliant young ex-communicated Spanish/Jewish immigrant whose family and community fled the Spanish Inquisition to Holland near the end of the 16th century. Future grants in this program will be renamed the Patricia A. Wood, M.D., Ph.D., Spinoza Award, in honor of Dr. Hrushesky’s late wife, who was a multi-talented medical researcher, entrepreneur and patient advocate, and a vivid and vibrant paragon of creativity, graciousness and generosity.
The Spinoza Award has inspired its student recipients, as well as their faculty mentors, to bring the innovative and challenging ways of thinking inspired by Baruch Spinoza to the fields of architecture and emerging theater.
Miquon Jackson (A&S ’21), a 2021 recipient, developed and presented an e-theater adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s “Rosmersholm” in June 2021 with a team of professional actors. His original plan was for live theater; the COVID pandemic required him to invent an entirely new approach to the interplay between theater and technology as an exploration of the human condition. Jackson worked with faculty mentor Samuel Gorovitz, professor of philosophy in the College of Arts and Sciences. The experience provided Jackson in-depth reflection bringing principles of philosophy to the themes of the play, and also concrete experience leading a team through the co-creation of a theatrical event.
“Confronting Ibsen’s text with my fellow artists (and Americans at large) has made a significant difference in my life,” says Jackson, who graduated with a degree in philosophy. “My essence, both as a thinker and as an artist, has undergone a significant change. I look forward to utilizing my theatrical skills to make philosophical changes in our splintered society.”
Natasha Liston-Beck ’20 (School of Architecture) and Yundi “Wendy” Zhang ’20 (School of Architecture) 2020 Spinoza recipients, co-created an architecture thesis project with the support of the award and their thesis advisory group faculty mentors, professors Sinead MacNamara, Julie Larsen and Britt Eversole. Their project, “Continuous Interior Space Architecture: An Omni-orientational Archive of Interfaces,” examined new possibilities for space architecture design, envisioning the closed world of the spacecraft as a digiphysical reality where these physical and digital spatial experiences are utterly entangled. This inquiry prompted them to consider various aspects of decision-making under uncertainty, and ethical aspects of conflicting priorities in a new kind of context.
After graduation, Liston-Beck interned with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, doing software development for spacecraft iterative design and analysis. She now works as an architectural designer with BRPH, an architecture and engineering firm in Huntsville, Alabama, engaging with projects ranging from rocket test stands to education facilities and entertainment districts.
Zhang worked with a startup in Hong Kong on 3D printed clothing after her graduation, and is pursuing a post-graduate degree in architectural technologies at SCI-Arc in Los Angeles. The critical thinking skills developed through their collaborative research project have served both well in their ambitious post-graduate pursuits.
Students interested in applying for the 2022 Patricia A. Wood, M.D., Ph.D., Spinoza Award will go through the SOURCE Grant Application process either in fall or spring. Visit The SOURCE webpage for instructions. The research proposal must include explicit plans to explore philosophical issues in relation to the sciences or other professional disciplines. Students from any major are eligible, provided only that they will consider the philosophical aspects of the area they pursue.