Faculty speak on intellectual virtues

Two Northwestern College professors gave presentations at the Educating for the Intellectual Virtues conference June 21 and 22 in Los Angeles. Dr. Randy Jensen, professor of philosophy, and Dr. Mike Kugler, professor of history, spoke at the event, which was co-sponsored by Loyola Marymount University and the John Templeton Foundation.

Conference organizers sought to bring together scholars and teachers from several fields to explore the character traits of a good thinker or learner—such as curiosity, open-mindedness, attentiveness, creativity and intellectual perseverance—and what it looks like to educate for them.

Jensen spoke on “The Examined Life: What Socrates Can Teach Us About the Virtues of the Intellect.” He examined Socrates’ dialogues to help sketch a Socratic picture of intellectual virtue, including both an initial inventory of intellectual virtues and a set of provocative suggestions about how they might be taught and learned.

Kugler presented “Can an Intellectual Virtue be Learned? Teaching Historical Sympathy or Understanding.” Historians in recent years have focused on helping students critically read documents in their historical circumstances, understand historical change, and make interesting historical arguments about why and how events occur. Kugler reviewed almost 30 student essays for evidence that their ability to use the skills of historical understanding, or empathy for past people, represents an intellectual virtue. 

Jensen, a member of Northwestern’s faculty since 1999, earned a doctorate in philosophy at UCLA. He also received master’s and bachelor’s degrees at California State University, Long Beach.

Kugler joined the faculty in 1994. He earned a doctorate in history from the University of Chicago, a master’s degree from Western Washington University and a bachelor’s from Judson Baptist College.