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Mark A. Ralkowski Faculty Member

1. Research: During the past year, my research was evenly split between the worlds of Plato Studies and the Philosophy of Humor. In October of 2021, I published an edited volume called Dave Chappelle and Philosophy: When Keeping it Wrong Gets Real. This collection contains 25 chapters written by academics from around the world. I wrote the first and last chapter for the book. Putting this volume together included coordination with colleagues I have met at a variety of conferences and lectures, such as Luvell Anderson, Sheila Lintott, Steven Gimbel, and Lydia Amir. This work has enabled me to enhance my teaching because the subject is of great interest to students. For example, one of my students, Eliza Wizner, published a chapter in this volume and was awarded the Thacher-Reynolds Prize to support her original research on the "belly laugh." It has also established my name in the growing field of the philosophy of humor. I was encouraged to attend the upcoming meeting of the International Society for Humor Studies in Bologna, Italy. The Dave Chappelle book will be reviewed by Phillip Dean (UNH) in the 2021 Philosophy of Humor Yearbook. In June of 2021, I participated in The Sixth Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Heritage of Western Greece with special emphasis on ἀρετή. This conference was based in Sicily, but most participants attended remotely. Some of the contributors to this international conference were invited to publish revised versions of their conference papers in a volume called Virtue in Plato and Aristotle: Proceedings of the Sixth Interdisciplinary Symposium on theHeritage of Western Greece . Eds. Jay Elliott and Ryan M. Brown. Sioux City: Parnassos Press,forthcoming (2022). My chapter, "Plato and the Navy: Thalassocracy, Aretē, and the Corruption of Desire" will appear in the volume and be available for download on JSTOR in the spring of 2022. On October 8 2021, I presented an early draft of "Plato and the Navy" to the GW Philosophy Department. On October 15 2021, I collaborated with Eliza Wizner to give a joint presentation in the University Honors Program's Food for Thought program. We presented the ideas and arguments of the book Dave Chappelle and Philosophy. At the end of the presentation, Bernard Wood commented that the rapport between Eliza and me made him feel "proud to be a part of the Honors Program." This was one of the highlights of my year. In the spring semester of 2022, I am working with three students on a book chapter about Hannah Gadsby. They are serving as my "research assistants" by reading scholarship with me and discussing it as we go. 2. Service: Posse Mentor; Search Committee in the UHP to hire a new Biology Professor; Diversity and Inclusion Committees in the UHP and in Philosophy; redesigned, proposed and advertised for the Study Abroad program in Greece; began working with Nashman Center at GW to redesign an Honors course to include service learning. Most of my service focused on the student experience. Formally, I served as a Posse mentor and as a learning partner with TRAiLS, to help them interview a new generation of TRAiLS guides and to participate in their Adventure Bound Program, which involved a week-long hike in Shenandoah National Park. I also partnered with TRAiLS to organize a Fall and Spring hike for the UHP + two outings for my Posse cohort. In addition to working in these positions, I also served informally as a faculty guide. I have been meeting up with students, for lunch or coffee or dinner or going for walks, throughout the year. I did this more times than I can count; the highlights for me were two separate BBQs at my house. This is a way of connecting with students that I learned through my capacity as Faculty in Residence. In addition to serving in these roles, I have been involved in two Diversity and Inclusion committees, one in Honors and one in Philosophy. In Honors we have been working to improve our curriculum, overhaul our social media, reimagine our peer advising, adjust our admissions criteria, write to the Provost about the need for a new faculty hire, survey the students in the program to determine what they value most in their faculty, and more. In Philosophy, we are still getting started, but our focus has been on professional training and pedagogy. Finally, I worked as the faculty advisor to Phi Sigma Tau, the international philosophy honors society. 3. Teaching: In the past year, I have revised syllabi, attended several workshops on teaching, worked with three thesis students, helped one student get published, served as a referee for a journal on teaching, applied to participate in a teaching workshop at The University of Notre Dame, and helped to organize a workshop for my Philosophy colleagues on inclusive pedagogy. I have also worked on two diversity and inclusion committees.

Research Areas

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