UO philosopher honored for dissertation about kindness

A philosophy doctoral candidate at the University of Oregon has been awarded a prestigious Newcombe Fellowship for her dissertation that explores the moral significance of kindness.

Caroline Lundquist was named a Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellow for 2011 and will receive $25,000 for a full year of research support. Her dissertation, "The Promise of Kindness," will eventually be turned into two books -- one for professional ethicists and the other for a broader audience -- according to Lundquist.

"Kindness can play such a profound role in a moral life," said Lundquist. "I believe that philosophical writing and publishing can and should be relevant to folks outside of academia, and I’ve always made an effort to balance intellectual rigor with social relevance."

The Newcombe Fellowship is the nation's largest and most prestigious such award for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values. Of the 585 applicants for the 2011 Fellowship, 71 were named as finalists, with the 21 Fellows ultimately representing just 3 percent of all applicants.

"My kindness project is somewhat unusual, and I am so grateful to my committee members for trusting me to write on such an unconventional subject," said Lundquist. "The faculty members of the philosophy department have been so supportive of my work over the years, each in their own way; they are a perfect illustration of the manifold nature of kindness."

Lundquist graduated summa cum laude from Southern Oregon University in Ashlandand received her master's degree from the UO.

Funded by the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation (www.newcombefoundation.org), the Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship (www.woodrow.org/newcombe) was created in 1981 and has supported nearly 1,100 doctoral candidates, many of whom are now noted faculty members at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and abroad.