Accomplishments of Truman Philosophy & Religion Faculty, Students, and Alumni
Truman’s vibrant, active campus is made up of a community of learners. Individually and collectively, people at Truman are driven to know, to learn, to understand, and to extend the reach of shared knowledge. Here are some of the accomplishments of faculty, students, and alumni in philosophy and religion:
- In the summer of 2020, PHRE major Alix Medler was a research scholar in Penn State’s Project Drawdown addressing climate change. In that role, she helped plan and implement the APOGEE (Anything is POssible for Girls in Electrical Engineering) summer camp. You can find out more about Alix’s research here, and read Penn State’s press release about the camp (including Alix’s involvement in it).
- 2013 PHRE Outstanding Student and graduate Ben Batzer successfully defended his dissertation in English at the University of Iowa in the spring of 2020.
- 2011 PHRE Outstanding Student and graduate Mark Lambert (U of Chicago Divinity School Ph.D. candidate in theology) was awarded a coveted Louisville Institute dissertation fellowship in the spring of 2020.
- 2019 PHRE graduate Olivia Stuertz will attend New Mexico State University to pursue her Master degree in Anthropology.
- In April 2019 two Philosophy and Religion graduating seniors— Abbi Atwell and Zach Wessels— were inducted into Theta Alpha Kappa (TAK), the national honor society for students engaged in religious studies. And two Philosophy and Religion majors, Matthew Carr and Jonathan Satterfield, were inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and one of the most prestigious academic honor societies in the US, championing the liberal arts and sciences.
- Prof. Dereck Daschke has won a 2019 Truman grant to redesign his PHRE 350: Biomedical Ethics course so that only free or open resources are used in it.
- Chester Pelsang, 2018 PHRE alum, has been offered a summer internship position for 2019 as an archival intern in the Architect of the Capitol agency (AOC). The AOC oversees operational curation and conservation for the US Capitol and legislative buildings.
- PHRE alum Mark Lambert was admitted to candidacy in the PhD program at the University of Chicago Divinity School. With a focus in Theology, he is currently writing a dissertation entitled, The Sacramental Sickness: The Perceptual Interplay between the Eucharist and Leprosy in Medieval Theology. Mark was also recently awarded an Alma Wilson Teaching Fellowship for the 2019-20 academic year. This fellowship will allow him to teach a course of his own design, “Religion, Medicine, and Illness” in the College at the University of Chicago. In January, Mark conducted archival research at the Damiaan Documentatie en Informatiecentrum in Leuven, Belgium. He examined original documents pertaining to Father Damien de Veuster, the Catholic saint and Belgian priest famous for his work at the ‘leper’ colony on Molokai, Hawaii during the late nineteenth-century. This archival work was supported by a Graduate Research and Travel Grant from the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago.
- Prof. Chad Mohler was Truman’s 2019 recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
- Prof. Chad Mohler was named as one of Apple’s Distinguished Educators.
- 2006 Philosophy & Religion graduate Tyler Paytas is now a Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia and was recently featured on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s “The Philosopher’s Zone” podcast.
- Prof. Mike Ashcraft recently gave three presentations on New Religious Movements and how scholars study them. On Oct. 17, 2018 he spoke to students and faculty at Texas State in San Marcos, Texas. Later that day he also spoke to students and members of the general public at the San Marcos Public Library. These presentations were part of the Dialogue Series sponsored by the Philosophy Department at Texas State. On Oct. 18 he spoke to students and faculty at the University of Texas Austin. His presentation was sponsored by the Religious Studies Department at the University of Texas Austin.
- 2008 PHRE alum Katherine Tullmann is now on the philosophy faculty at Northern Arizona University.
- Abbi Atwell, a PHRE major, spent the Spring 2018 semester studying in Angers, France. All of the classes were taught in French. She also taught English Conversation and Culture once a week at a local middle school.
- Chester Pelsang and Mary Kochanski, PHRE majors, spent part of their summer 2018 in Peru. PHRE faculty member Dr. Dereck Daschke led them and several other Truman students in a three-week course called “Sacred Healing in Peru.” Students visited several historic sites (such as Machu Picchu), met local healers and shamans, did a service project at a local school, and enjoyed the Incan Festival of the Sun.
- Chester Pelsang, a PHRE and HIST double major who will graduate in Dec. 2018, has been accepted into the M.A. program in History at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He will specialize in museum curatorship, and will work on a certificate in this field offered through the Smithsonian Institution while working on his M.A.
- Elizabeth (Roberts) Wiles graduated from Truman with a B.A. in Philosophy & Religion in 2006 and earned her J.D. from the University of Missouri School of Law. After law school, she served as a judicial law clerk on the Supreme Court of Missouri. In the Fall 2018 semester she is teaching a variety of Justice Systems courses at Truman, including The Legal System and a topics course coordinated with The Innocence Project.
- Adam Potthast graduated from Truman with a B.A. in Philosophy & Religion in 1998 and earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Connecticut. He has taught philosophy at Missouri S and T and Park University, and most recently became the Director of Assessment and Faculty Development at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona, Minnesota.
- In the summer of 2018 Philosophy and Religion alum Sam Walk earned a coveted ambassadorship with the American School Counselor Association.
- Three Philosophy and Religion graduating seniors— Devin Gant, Alex Moellering, and Sydney Moxley— were inducted into Theta Alpha Kappa (TAK) on May 9, 2018. TAK is the national honor society for students engaged in religious studies.
- Dr. Chad Mohler was selected as Truman’s 2018 Educator of the Year.
- In April 2018 Dr. Chad Mohler won the Academic Professional Development Center’s Academic Innovation Award for his teaching project, “Argument Maps as a Tool to Aid Critical Thinking.”
- Congratulations to Dr. Mike Ashcraft on the Winter 2018 publication of his book, A Historical Introduction to the Study of New Religious Movements, in the Routledge New Religions series.
- Since graduating from Truman in 2004 with a PHRE degree, Lisa Gilbert has taught English in Austria via a Fulbright program, completed a MA in Religious Studies at McGill University, directed the education programs at a history museum, completed a PhD in social studies education at Saint Louis University, published several journal articles and book chapters, and is now teaching at Thomas Jefferson School, an independent college-preparatory boarding school in Saint Louis.
- The dissertation of PHRE alumna Leah Rediger Schulte has been published by Fortress Press. It’s called The Absence of God in Biblical Rape Narratives.
- PHRE majors Samantha Barnhart and Tia Sarkar were elected as the 2017 inductees to Truman’s selective Alpha Iota Lambda chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa (TAK), the national honor society for religious studies.
- PHRE majors Joelle Axton and Katlin Walker were elected as the 2016 inductees to Truman’s selective Alpha Iota Lambda chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa (TAK), the National Honor Society for Religious Studies.
- Department chair W. Michael Ashcraft is currently working on a book, A Historical Introduction to the Study of New Religious Movements.
- PHRE major Joelle Axton presented the paper, “The Ineffable in Concluding Unscientific Postscript Through the Lens of Wittgenstein’s Interpreters,” at the 18th Annual Midwest Undergraduate Philosophy Conference held at Creighton University on April 15-16, 2016.
- In January 2016, Rooted and Grounded: Essays on Land and Christian Discipleship, a book co-edited by Truman alum Ryan Harker, was published by Pickwick Publications.
- Truman students Joelle Axton and Alexandra Potter received honorary mention and book awards for their presentations at the annual Theta Alpha Kappa Honor Society which met in conjunction with the Central States Regional Conferences of the Society for Biblical Literature (SBL) and the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) meeting in St. Louis, March 22-23, 2015.
- PHRE alum Tyler Paytas has been awarded a 2015-2016 Volkswagen Foundation Fellowship for post-doctoral study in philosophy at the University of Stuttgart in Germany.
- PHRE alum Alan Bancroft recently served as the Presbyterian Church USA Campus Minister at Vanderbilt and Belmont Universities.
- In 2015 PHRE alum Ryan Harker had his book Rooted and Grounded: Essays on Land and Christian Discipleship accepted for publication by Wipf & Stock.
- PHRE alum Adam Potthast is now Program Coordinator for the philosophy department at Park University in Kansas City, MO.
- In 2014 Professor of Philosophy Stephen Pollard’s essay, “Mathematics and the Good Life,” appeared in The Best Writing on Mathematics 2014, published by the Princeton University Press.
- In 2014 Professor of Philosophy Stephen Pollard had his book A Mathematical Prelude to the Philosophy of Mathematics published by Springer.
- Summer 2013 saw Dr. Mark Appold led Truman students Jordyn Williams, Samantha Wickam, Grace Curtright, Sierra Horton, Jane Rademacher, Katie Shannon, Caitlin McGrath, and Brandon Bolte on an intensive six-week study abroad program in the Middle East.
- Dr. Mark Appold’s doctoral dissertation on “The Oneness Motif in the Fourth Gospel” , published by J.C.B. Mohr in Tübingen, Germany, has been re-published by Wipf and Stock (Eugene, Oregon) due to popular demand.
- Dereck Daschke, Professor of Philosophy & Religion, delivered a lecture to the Religious Studies department at the University of Nebraska – Omaha on September 12, 2013. The talk was titled “The Most Human Thing We Do: Religion and the Need to Create” and explored the connection between religion, games, art, and other forms of creativity.
- Dr. Mark Appold’s article on Philip of Bethsaida will be included in the Festschrift for John T. Greene, published fall 2013 by Cambridge Scholars of England, under the title Bethsaida in Archaeology, History, and Ancient Culture.
- Dr. Mark Appold’s article, A Search for the Identity and Role of an Anonymous Judean, will be included in the forthcoming publication by J. C. B. Mohr of Tübingen, Germany, “Character Studies in the Fourth Gospel: Narrative Approaches to Seventy Figures in John.”
- Dr. Jennifer Jesse’s book, William Blake’s Religious Vision: There’s a Methodism in his Madness, was published by Lexington Books in 2013.
- Dr. Dereck Daschke was a correspondent for the Journal of Religion & Film at the Sundance Film Festival in February 2012. He reviewed numerous films for their presentation of religious ideas, stories, and themes and also interviewed the Palestinian-Israeli team who made “5 Broken Cameras.” The review and interview can be found on the journal’s free website.
- Dr. Chad Mohler wins Mobile for Global Good Competition.
- Publication of Dr. Dereck Daschke’s new book on the Jewish Apocalypse and new book on the Bible and violent cultures in psychological perspective.
- PHRE major Mark Lambert’s presentation of “Baldwin IV: A Curious Case of Leprosy in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem” at multiple conferences:
The Theta Alpha Kappa section of the Central States Society of Biblical Literature’s March meeting (one of ten undergraduate presenters)
—The undergraduate section of the March meeting of the Midwest Regional American Academy of Religion; winner of award for best undergraduate paper
—April meeting of the Crusader Studies Forum at Saint Louis University
- PHRE major Andrew McCall becomes Truman’s first Rhodes Scholarship winner.
- End-of-the-year (2013-2014) honors:
—Outstanding Student in Philosophy: Kara Boschert
—Outstanding Student in Religious Studies: Lizzie Salsich
—Department Honors: Kara Boschert, Jessica Foster, Lizzie Salsich, Mary Louisa Williams
—Theta Alpha Kappa (national honor society for religious studies) inductees: Jessica Foster, Elizabeth, Salsich, and Mary Williams
- End-of-the-year (2012-2013) honors:
—Outstanding Student in Philosophy: Keenan Schott
—Outstanding Student in Religious Studies: Ben Batzer
—Theta Alpha Kappa (national honor society for religious studies) inductees: Allison Stagner, Amy Johnson, Ben Batzer, and Jasmine Johnson
- End-of-the-year (2011-2012) honors:
—Outstanding Student in Philosophy & Religion: Nathan Hardy
—Departmental Honors: Rachel Cook, Heidi Geisbuhler, Daniel Gilmore, Nathan Hardy
—Inducted into Theta Alpha Kappa Religious Studies and Theology Honor Society: Nathan Hardy, Jasmine Johnson, and Ben Batzer
—Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa: Rachel Cook, Daniel Gilmore, Nathan Hardy
—Winner of the Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship for Graduate Studies: Nathan Hardy, $5000
- End-of-the-year (2010-2011) honors:
—Outstanding Student in Philosophy & Religion: Mark Lambert
—Departmental Honors: Marianne Cline, Lauren Greenspan, Ryan Harker, Stephanie Hulsey, Aubrey Vaughn, Amy Yeagle
—Inducted into Phi Beta Kappa: Lauren Greenspan, Ryan Harker, Matthew Ziegler
—Inducted into Theta Alpha Kappa Religious Studies and Theology Honor Society: Amanda Brown, Marianne Cline, Lauren Greenspan, Ryan Harker, Michelle Martin, Valerie Spencer, Aubrey Vaughn
—Valedictorian Spring 2011: Lauren Greenspan, Ryan Harker, Stephanie Hulsey, Amy Yeagle