With the school year coming to an end, #bsuphilrels has some good news to share! Phil/Rels Good News: 2021-2022


Dr. Elizabeth Agnew

  • Dr. Agnew presented the talk “Interwoven Narratives: Islam, Activism, and Reconciliation after 9/11” at the Peace History Society’s virtual international conference in October 2021.
  • In November, Dr. Agnew joined a one-year, State Department-funded partnership that brings together Ball State University and three women’s universities in Pakistan (Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University Peshawar; University of Swat; and Women’s University Swabi) to assist the latter in developing their American Studies programs.  

Dr. Jeff Brackett

  • Dr. Brackett presented the work from his recent special assigned leave on September 2, 2021, at Gordy Fine Art and Framing in Muncie. Dr. Brackett’s show is called “Forgetting the Ox.” You can see the talk he gave at the opening event, as well as images of his artwork, on his blog.
  • Also, in this blog post for the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, Dr. Jeff Brackett reflects on how his art connects with his scholarship and how he brings art into the classroom to shape student learning.

Dr. Dave Concepción

  • Recent presentations by Dr. Dave Concepción include “Increasing Learning by Extending Equality of Access,” “Some Pedagogical Implications of Brain Biochemistry,” “Inclusive Teaching as Hospitality,” and “Becoming a Learner-Centered Teaching Assistant.”
  • Dr. Concepción also led a number of ethics trainings for the City of Muncie focused on how to avoid conflicts of interest.
  • In other news, Dr. Concepción has become the editor-in-chief of the journal AAPT Studies in Pedagogy. And, of course, he’s loving teaching FEE and Stance this semester.

Dr. Jeff Fry

  • Dr. Fry presented on a virtual panel titled “Sports Ethics Under Covid-19” on March 23, 2022, hosted by the Fresno State Ethics Center, and he presented “Aspiration, Transformation, and Sporting Greatness” at the 31st APPE (Association for Practical and Professional Ethics) International Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, on February 26, 2022.
  • Dr. Fry also co-edited a book with Andrew Edgar titled Philosophy, Sport, and the Pandemic (Routledge, 2022).

Dr. Kevin Harrelson

  • Dr. Harrelson debuted the Health Humanities program and taught the new course, Intro to Health Humanities, in spring 2022.
  • Dr. Harrelson published a special issue of The Pluralist  (Summer 2021) on racism in the philosophy of American philosopher Josiah Royce; a chapter in a volume on The Relevance of Hegel’s Concept of Philosophy (Bloomsbury 2021) called “Metaphilosophical Pluralism;” and another essay in The Pluralist called “Pandemic Response: A Reflection on Disease and Education” about the need to reform the humanities for the post-pandemic university.
  • Dr. Harrelson co-organized a workshop for the Free University of Berlin and Humboldt University of Berlin on “Hegel and Black Intellectual History” (his talk was called “From Universal History to Black History”) and published some editorials in German newspapers on the same topic.

Dr. Matthew Hotham

Dr. Kibujjo Kalumba

  • In November, Dr. Kalumba presented  “The Essentials of African Sage Philosophy” at Filosophia, Estetica e Juventude: Coloquio Virtual (Virtual Conference on Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Youth), which was hosted by the Federal University of Sergipe, Brazil.
  • As Editor-in-Chief of Philosophia Africana, Dr. Kalumba oversaw the academic side of publishing both issues of Vol. 20 (2021).

Dr. Joseph Marchal

  • Dr. Marchal co-founded a new journal, QTR: A Journal of Queer and Transgender Studies in Religion. The journal is the first of its kind and is supported by a $30,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and a $5,000 grant from the University of California Humanities Research Institute. It will be launched at a conference at University of California Riverside in May. Dr. Joseph Marchal, and co-founder Dr. Melissa Wilcox, professor of Religious studies at UC Riverside, were interviewed and quoted in this piece in the Religion News Service.

Dr. Sarah Vitale

  • Dr. Vitale and Ball State students Emma Hamilton and Isabel Lozano led a breakout session featuring the work of Ball State’s Philosophy Outreach Project at The Annual High School Philosophy Conference @NYU in September.
  • Dr. Vitale participated in a webinar on pre-college philosophy hosted by the American Philosophical Association titled “Engaging Younger Philosophers: Philosophy in Pre-College Settings,” to increase awareness of philosophy being done outside of traditional academic settings, especially work focusing on philosophy for children.
  • Dr. Vitale also published an article called “Overcoming Barriers: Pre-college Philosophy Programs in Neoliberalism” in In Intentional Disruption: Expanding Access to Philosophy, edited by Stephen Kekoa Miller (Vernon Press, 2021).
  • Dr. Vitale was elected Co-Coordinator of the Radical Philosophy Association. She is also co-founder of the organization’s new monthly series, Radical Philosophy Hour, which is held on the first Monday of the month at 4 p.m.


After a 36-year career, Dr. Mark Sharfman (Philosophy, ’73) retired from the University of Oklahoma.  Upon retirement, he was granted the title “Puterbaugh Chair Emeritus.”

Erik Deckers (Philosophy, ’89) published his first humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, in 2019. Erik also recently marked the occasion of publishing his 1,400th newspaper humor column.

Sean Magrath (Philosophy, ’96) was recently promoted to National Senior Director at Comcast. He is responsible for developing the long-term strategy for providing services to apartments, condominiums, and campuses. He credits his philosophy major with helping him prepare for this role as he’s “able to quickly learn and assess different systems while also persuading change at an executive level using argument and logic. Plus, every once in a while [he’ll] throw a Bertrand Russell quote into the conversation for fun.”

A photo of the Ball State Philosophy club members 2002–2003

Ball State Philosophy Club 2002–2003 taken by Dr. Dave Concepción

LeAnn Neel-Romine (Philosophy, ’03) shared this picture from the 2002-2003 Philosophy Club. They were told to look “deep in thought.” (Dr. Concepción is pretty sure he took that photo in what was then the Blue Bottle coffee shop in the village.)

Julie Scott (Religious Studies, ’03) has published fourteen books since graduation, including The Question and The EPIC Trailguide: Exploring Everyday Pathways in Christ. She has also written a seven-book epic fantasy series, The Children of Auberon Series, set in Muncie’s Oakhurst Gardens behind the home of George, Frances, and Elisabeth Ball. 

Erin Walton (Philosophy, ’08) earned her BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) credential at the end of January and was promoted to a full Program Manager for Lighthouse Autism Center in March.

Travis D. Schilla (Religious Studies, ’09) started a position as the Assistant Director for Selection, Training, and Community Development in Residential Services at Northwestern University.

Will Grinstead (Philosophy, ’11) recently earned the Certified Healthcare Ethics Consultant (HEC-C) from the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. He is also currently engaged in an interdisciplinary qualitative research project on healthcare workers’ religious objections to Covid-19 vaccination. 

Elliot Edwards (Philosophy, ’17) accepted a new position as Business Analyst with IU Health.

Kaley Rittichier (Philosophy, ’17) will receive her MS in Computer Science with a thesis that is an extension of her Honors/Philosophy BA thesis (in natural language processing and computational theory) and will attend University of Connecticut as a PhD candidate in philosophy in the fall, where she plans to specialize in logic and philosophy of computer science. She has also published two articles in Computer Science this past year.

Matt Hinkleman (Philosophy, ’20) is having a great time teaching English on a Fulbright in Germany. He has even led lessons on philosophical topics (and is very thankful to POP for the lesson plans!), to which the students responded very well. He is considering staying in Germany in another year and perhaps pursuing a master’s degree in philosophy.  


Griffin Green and Grant Ryan are co-recipients of the annual Outstanding Senior in Philosophy Award. They presented at Student Recognition Day in April. Griffin’s presentation was titled “Philosophy in Art” and Grant’s was titled “An Analysis of How Views of Personal Identity Shape Who One Is.”

Elizabeth Prium is the recipient of the Outstanding Senior in Religious Studies award. She presented “The Creation of an Ethno-Religious Identity: The Uyghur People of Xinjiang” at Student Recognition Day.

Grace Georgi is the recipient of the Philosophy Essay Prize for “The American Dream’s Nonexistence,” which she presented at Student Recognition Day.

Parker Gray received the Philosophy Essay Prize Honorable Mention for “Selling Pride: Alienation of the Queer Culture Commodity,” which he presented at Student Recognition Day.

Zoe Olesker received the Religious Studies Essay Prize for “‘White Apes’: How Irish-Catholics Became Human, White, and American,” which she presented at Student Recognition Day.

Students in the Philosophy Outreach Project immersive-learning course visited five high schools around the state and continued the weekly philosophy club at Muncie Central High School. They also hosted their fourth annual Conference for Pre-College Philosophical Engagement, welcoming over eighty high school students and teachers to campus for a day of interactive philosophy. Several alumni also joined. The theme of this year’s conference was social justice, and students engaged in morning sessions on major philosophical branches and used what they learned to think about how we might respond to various complicated social issues in their afternoon sessions. 

Students produced Volume 15 of Stance: An International Undergraduate Philosophy Journal. If you haven’t looked in a while, check its our updated website. This year’s interview is with Stephen Davies, an expert in Philosophy of Art. Particularly interesting is his take on John Cage’s 4’33”. As always, Stance is grateful to its many alumni supporters!

Activities and Programs

The joint venture of the Philosophy Club and Religion Conversation Hour, Philosophy/Religion Conversations, hosted weekly events during the academic year. Outside guests included Dr. Alida Liberman (“A Framework for More Ethica Medical Crowdfunding”), Dr. Tiffany Montoya (“Mujerista Ethics: Reimaging Self-Ownership”), Dr. Rebecca Millsop (“Responsible for What? Individual and Collective Action to Combat the Climate Crisis”),Dr. Megan Goodwin (“Pop Culture & Religion”), Drs. Amy DeRogatis and Isaac Weiner (“The American Religious SOunds Project: What does religion sound like?”), Dr. Lisa Guenther (“Solitary Confinement and the Meaning of Existence”), Dr. Carissa Phillips-Grant (“Attending to the Other”), Dr. Frances Bottenberg (“Epistemic Injustice and Actions Expressing Emotion”), Dr. Jenna Supp-Montgomerie (“How Public Protestantism Shapes Our Experience of Digital Communication”), Dr. Alison Reiheld (“Fat Chance: how body size judgments, daily life, and stigma = a hot mess”), and Mary Posner (“Paths to Peace: A BSU Anti-War Activist Looks Back.”  

The Big Questions/Big Ideas series, a joint effort with the Muncie Public Library, featured several interesting talks: Dr. Kimberly Ann Harris, “What Good Philosophers Do;” Dr. Nicholas Dixon, Dr. Chad Carlson, and Dr. Jeffrey P. Fry,  “Pandemic Sport;” Dr. Jen Erickson “Race-ing Fargo: Refugees, Citizenship, and the Transformation of Small Cities;” Dr Adam J. Bowen, “Ways of Social Robot Worldmaking: Rights? Moral Patients? Legal Agents?;” Dr. James J. Connolly and Dr. Patrick Collier, “Time Shifts: Future Orientation in Pandemic Everyday Life.” Many were recorded and can be viewed on the BQBI website.

For Student Recognition Day, the department also welcomed keynote Speaker Dr. Melissa Jacquart (Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of Cincinnati Associate Director for the UC Center for Public Engagement with Science) to offer a talk called “The Search for Dark Matter using Computer Simulations and Philosophy of Science.”

For more information about the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, visit our website, contact our office, or follow us on Facebook.