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 viri: Virgil, Augustine, and Dante on the Virtue of Piety"
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"
"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?
"Divine Erotics: Whether God Loves Us Erotically"
Can we imagine eros without lack?
"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?
"Neat Little Boxes: The Dangers and Shortcomings of Categorization"
Have statistics gone too far?
"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?
"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?
"In View of Shalom: Analyzing Political Forgiveness through a Religious Lens"
Is political forgiveness possible, or even desirable?
"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?
"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?
"Mysterium Orationis: The Christian’s Approach to Understanding Petitionary Prayer"
How does intercessory prayer actually ”work"?
"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?
"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?