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APSU student does well at philosophy colloquium

Last month, Austin Peay State University philosophy student Nancy Rankin stopped by the Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City to engage in intellectual discussions with some of the top academic minds in the southeast.

The occasion was the Third Annual Appalachian Student Philosophy Colloquium, hosted by East Tennessee State University, and during the meeting, Rankin delivered a paper, Aristotelian Virtue Ethics as a Response to Locke on Personal Identity.
Last month, Austin Peay State University philosophy student Nancy Rankin stopped by the Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City to engage in intellectual discussions with some of the top academic minds in the southeast.

The occasion was the Third Annual Appalachian Student Philosophy Colloquium, hosted by East Tennessee State University, and during the meeting, Rankin delivered a paper, “Aristotelian Virtue Ethics as a Response to Locke on Personal Identity.”

Having a paper accepted at a conference is a major accomplishment for an undergraduate student. Organizers critically exam each submitted work, choosing only the best written and intellectually engaging papers. Rankin's piece was among the elite few deemed worthy of the colloquium's high standards, but then came the difficult task of reading her paper aloud before a room full of scholars.

“It's a little daunting,” she said. “There are a lot of philosophy professors there, and they know so much more about philosophy than you do. You have to answer their questions. It was frightening, but it was very fun.”

She apparently held her own because Rankin was awarded second place among the Colloquium's participants. The accolade adds to an already impressive academic resume for the APSU student. At last year's conference, Rankin was awarded first place for her paper “A Substantive Revision to Firth's Ideal Observer Theory.” That piece will soon be published in “Stance,” an undergraduate philosophy journal through Ball State University.

“I didn't want to get my hopes up about the paper,” she said. “I was really excited. Probably one of my happiest moments in undergrad was getting that paper published.”

Rankin, a senior, transferred to APSU from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga as a sophomore and quickly found a home in the University's small philosophy department. Only about three full-time professors oversee this field, allowing the department's handful of students to work closely and form bonds with faculty.

Dr. Bert Randall, APSU professor of philosophy, said Rankin, with her cumulative GPA of 3.85, is one of the top students in the program. As a junior, she won the APSU Dempsey Award in philosophy, and she's the only student presently in the department who has presented papers at four different philosophy conferences. In addition to the two Appalachian Student Philosophy Colloquiums, Rankin presented at the Society for Student Philosophers Annual Conference at the University of Texas-Pan-Am and the Midsouth Philosophy Conference at the University of Memphis in 2009.

“She is bright, responsible and has a passionate desire to learn,” Randall said. “In the best sense of the word Nan is a ‘Lover of Wisdom.' I am honored to be her teacher.”

Rankin will graduate in August, and she plans to attend law school. She credits her undergraduate experience as a philosophy student with preparing her for any field she wishes to pursue professionally.

“In philosophy, you learn to think, which is very important,” she said.

For more information on the APSU history and philosophy department, call 221-7919. -- Charles Booth