Students rejoice at Commencement.

Karol Wojtyla Medallion for Excellence in Humanities

Before he became bishop of Kracow and eventually Pope Saint John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla was a poet, playwright, and professor of philosophy in Poland. His thought and writings articulate a deeply authentic humanism that is at the foundation of the Department of Humanities. His life bore witness to the vitality and expansive vision that is the fruit of such a humanism. In his encyclical Fides et Ratio, St. John Paul spoke of the love of wisdom that is “born and nurtured when the human being first asked questions about the reason for things and their purpose” and that “shows in different modes and forms that the desire for truth is part of human nature itself.” Our medallion winners are students who have not just excelled in their studies but whose love of wisdom has been stirred into a flame during their undergraduate studies. Below you’ll find the full list of our medallion winners since 2005.

2021: Robert Bulka

2020: Timothy Long

2019: Emily LaPorte

2018: Ethan Swain

2017: Gabriella Berman

2016: Hindley Williams

2015: Sara Thoms

2014: Michael Vazquez

2013: Ryan M. Brown

2012: Paul M. Dupont

2011: Paul R. Trahey

2010: Charles A. Gillespie

2009: Madeline A. Chera

2009: Anne Marie Bonner

2008: Loretta A. Vasile

2007: Paul John Gorre

2006: Michael Ostroff

2005: Gregory Grimes


Senior Essay Prize

The Department of Humanities Senior Essay Prize is awarded to a major in the Department of Humanities for an essay that demonstrates excellence, rigor, and wisdom in its sustained engagement with a question deserving renewed attention at the end of the degree.  Seeking depth over breadth, students build on texts and issues from the gateway and elective classes to craft a long essay on a question that they identify in conversation with the symposium professor and an additional faculty advisor. Each essay is distinct in its demonstration of students’ particular intellectual loves and integrating interdisciplinary topics. Below are our past winners and posters of recent Humanities Senior Essays.

Casey O'Donnell, 2021, "The Song of Creation: A Divine Love Song Transposed"

Caroline Arnold, 2020, "Insignes pietate viriVirgil, Augustine, and Dante on the Virtue of Piety"

Matthew Faller, 2019, "A String of Minor Graces"

Patrick Hudak, 2018, "Acedia, Psychopathology, and the Human Person: Exploring Walker Percy's The Moviegoer and the Necessity of Meaning"

Eric Aldieri, 2017, "'Where Time and Eternity Spatter Each Other with Foam'": Signs of the Sacred & the Beautiful Impossibility of Home"

Ali Laird, 2016, "Sticky Little Leaves: Non-Locality, Non-Euclidean Geometry, and Positive Knowing in the Brothers Karamazov"

Charles Bates, 2015, "Is God Love?: Converging and Convincing Arguments for the Truth of Christian Faith"

David Kim, 2014, "Reconciling Man’s Irrationality through Synthesis: Love, the Crown of Rationality"

Sarah J. McNally, 2013, "The Good Life in the Age of Advertising"

Victoria L. Barry, 2012, "The Abolition of Justice: Exposing the Need to Restore the Virtue of Justice to American Legal Theory"

Cristina D'Averso, 2011, "The Circle of Love: Tracing Its Origin and Discussing Is Implications"

Keenan D. Lynch, 2010, "A Better Search for the "Better Place": Consideration of Hannah Coulter with regard to the State of Happiness Today"

Madeline A. Chera, 2009, "Counterculture and Communion: Beyond Industrial Systems for a Fuller Understanding of Food"

Robert Bulka
"The Thrasymachus Effect: Personal and Political Effects of Philosophical Relativism"
What are the root causes, personal and political effects, and solutions to our twenty-first century epistemic crisis?

Gabriel Calvo 
"Divine Erotics: Whether God Loves Us Erotically"
Can we imagine eros without lack?

Declan Carolan
"The Limits of Human Design: Robert Moses, the Levitt Brothers, and the New Cities"
What do Levittown and New York City tell us about the limits of human design?

Andrew D’Onofrio
"Neat Little Boxes: The Dangers and Shortcomings of Categorization"
Have statistics gone too far?

Erin Fabian
"Ordinary World: How Can Heaven Be Made Out of the Hell of Other People?"
What is the point of the despair and anxiety we suffer by nature of being human? How do we go about healing? Can we?

John Greene
"Recovering Charity: Contemplation in Caritas"
What is service (caritas) and what role does contemplation (leisure) play in it?

Logan Khelil "The Other Side of Despair"
What exactly is the other side of despair? How do we navigate and overcome despair in our lives to find the ‘beginning’ of life?

Corey Kuipers
"In View of Shalom: Analyzing Political Forgiveness through a Religious Lens"
Is political forgiveness possible, or even desirable?

Casey O’Donnell 
"The Song of Creation: A Divine Love Song Transposed"
How would you characterize 'the song' that all of creation is singing? What is the purpose of created beauty and what is the nature of the relationship between the material and the immaterial?

Jessica Sardina 
"Beyond Allyship: The Radical Transformation of Friendship"
What does it take for us to go beyond ourselves and to realize our liberation is profoundly interconnected?

Dominic Sceski
"Mysterium Orationis: The Christian’s Approach to Understanding Petitionary Prayer"
How does intercessory prayer actually ”work"?

Bruno Shiffman
"From Naïve Faith to Mature Hope: Rejecting Flawed Rationalizations of Evil"
What is the proper response to an existence in which evil, both natural and moral, occurs often and in ways that seem senseless to us?

Bernard Zitzewitz
"Preserving the White Light: A Catholic Understanding of Knowledge and the Technocratic Paradigm through the Lens of J.R.R. Tolkien"
Does Tolkien serve as a good case study for the political, economic, and ecological critiques presented by Laudato Si’ and Wendell Berry?

Department of Humanities

St. Augustine Center Room 304
Villanova University 
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085

Chairperson: Dr. Michael Tomko