Since she began teaching at Fairfield University in 2004, students of Dr. Sara Brill, associate professor of philosophy, have consistently described her as one of the best professors Fairfield University has to offer — one of those special teachers that have had a great influence on their intellectual life.
It’s no surprise then, that Dr. Brill received the 2014 Award for Distinguished Teaching in the College of Arts and Sciences during the annual faculty meeting on May 1.
“From the minute she began her course on Plato’s Republic, I knew I had made the correct decision on coming to Fairfield University,” said Luke Record ’14 a philosophy major that recently received the top departmental award for 2013-14. “Over the course of a college education…one is bound to encounter one or two professors who profoundly shape the way in which one thinks: Dr. Brill has undoubtedly had such an influence on me.”
Noting that Dr. Brill’s popularity among students is well deserved, Dr. Joy Gordon, professor and chair of the Department of Philosophy, said, “She engages her students profoundly, and does so in creative ways. Her students come to understand that philosophy is fundamentally about examining our lives; but additionally, Dr. Brill teaches that philosophy involves not only living an examined life, but rather an examined life for others.” Students examine topics such as race, gender, class, and power through classical and modern texts. For example, Dr. Brill paired Plato’s Crito with Charles Mills’ The Racial Contract; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” with Plato’s Apology; and Sophocles’ Antigone with Iris Marion Young’s “Throwing Like a Girl.”
Dr. Gordon added that, in their evaluations of Dr. Brill, students consistently noted that they felt comfortable talking about these topics with her as their guide.
“Dr. Brill engages her students in questions that challenge their assumptions, but does so in a way that is respectful and inclusive.”
Dr. Brill received her PhD in 2004 from Pennsylvania State University, specializing in ancient philosophy and ethics. She wrote her dissertation on the role of medicine in Plato’s Republic and her book, Plato: On the Limits of Human Life, published by Indian University Press, was released in 2013. In the classroom, Dr. Brill teaches Plato, Aristotle, Tragedy, Women in Classical Literature, and Ancient Medicine and Philosophy. In addition to teaching philosophy courses, she team teaches courses in the Honors Program and is the director of the Classical Studies Program.
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