Senior Thesis Prize

Every year, the University Center for Human Values awards prize(s) to one or more senior theses that make an outstanding contribution to the study of human values. Nominations for this prize are made by departments across the University.

2017 Senior Thesis Prize Winners

Joani Etskovits
Department of English
“Girls Growing Curiouser: From Charlotte Brontë's Bluebeard-Print through 'Alice's Adventures' ”
Joani Etskovitz’ thesis on the rehabilitation of girls’ curiosity in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Villette, and above all in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland—against traditional myths punishing curiosity in the form of Eve, Pandora, and Bluebeard’s wife —is beautifully written, perceptive, and powerful.   In tracing just how these works posited  the revolutionary case that ‘women feel just as men feel’, Etskovitz enriches our understanding of the intricate imaginative and literary strategies that were needed to make this case patent.  
Colleen O'Gorman
Department of Politics
“Lessons from Emily Doe: A Survivor-Centric Approach to Sexual Assault”

Colleen O’Gorman’s thesis makes distinctive and original contributions to our thinking about the difficult subject of sexual assault.  She offers a critique of the “tokenization of consent" as the crucial factor in differentiating mutually satisfying and reciprocal sexual activity from sexual assault and violence.  The thesis is impressively fair-minded and well-informed, drawing on a stunning range of literature including not only political theory but also the philosophy of action, feminist critical theory, legal scholarship, and criminology.  It concludes with an insightful account of the collective responsibilities that different actors have for sexual assault as perpetrators, facilitators, and contributors, and how the latter two groups could contribute to reducing the incidence of this grievous harm. 
Kevin Alexander Wong
Department of Philosophy
“Counting Animals: On Effective Altruism and the Prospect of Interspecies Commensurability”
Kevin Wong’s thesis is an extremely impressive work of moral philosophy.  It outlines a new method for comparing the welfare of non-human animals to the welfare of humans for purposes of consequentialist reasoning and cost-benefit analysis. Clearly, carefully, and logically written, with due attention to the limits of the argument so far, this thesis is unusually ambitious and original for the work of an undergraduate, and has significant implications for whether charities should donate to alleviate suffering for human beings or allocate their resources instead to animals.