November 25, 2014

SVSU faculty to research the concept of evil, water culture of West Africa through Braun Fellowship

A Saginaw Valley State University professor in philosophy will research the concept of evil, and another in geography will engage in focused scholarly work on the importance of water to the people of Niger in West Africa, after being selected for the Braun Fellowship.

 

Peter Brian Barry, associate professor of philosophy, and Sara Beth Keough, associate professor of geography, will each receive research support grants totaling up to $37,500 over the next three years to further their scholarly and professional activities. Funds may be used for research expenses, equipment, travel and/or other related support.

 

Both are recognized by their SVSU colleagues for their research. Barry received the SVSU Faculty Association Outstanding Scholarship Award in 2013; Keough received the same honor this year.

 

Barry plans to examine the fundamental question, “What makes someone evil?” An authority in the field, he has authored a book on the subject, “Evil and Moral Psychology,” and in 2010 he was awarded a $25,000 teaching grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop an interdisciplinary course on the topic of evil and evil people.

 

Barry intends to use the fellowship to write a new book, with the working title of “The Fiction of Evil.” While his first book was targeted for academic scholars, he hopes his new volume will result in material more accessible to undergraduate college students.

 

Barry joined the SVSU faculty in 2005 and has chaired the philosophy department since 2012.  He has written 10 articles since 2009 that have appeared in academic journals. Barry completed a Ph.D. at the University of Florida, a master’s degree at Bowling Green State University, and a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

 

Keough has previously traveled to the West African country of Niger to study water consumption, storage, and transportation among its people. While social scientists have studied water quality and access to water resources in Saharan countries, Keough found little attention has been paid to the tangible nature of water, the materials that allow water to be transported and stored, and the landscapes created by these materials, such as the role of water vendors in the story of water access in Niamey.

 

Keough intends to produce multiple scholarly articles for peer-reviewed publications and give at least three academic conference presentations as a result of her research.

 

Keough joined the SVSU faculty in 2007. She has authored seven scholarly articles that have been published since 2011.  Keough completed a Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee, a master’s degree at Virginia Tech and a bachelor’s degree at Jacksonville University.

 

Established in 2005, the Braun Fellowship program was created through a $1.5 million endowment from the Saginaw-based Harvey Randall Wickes Foundation.  Administered by the Saginaw Community Foundation, the program's purpose is to recognize the exceptional accomplishments and potential of select SVSU faculty and staff.  It is named in honor of Ruth and Ted Braun of Saginaw.