Senior Thesis Prize

Every year, the University Center for Human Values awards up to three prizes to senior theses that best apply ethical reasoning to advance our understanding of human values. Nominations for this prize are made by departments across the University.

2024 Senior Thesis Prize Winners

Aaron Brzezinski 
Department of Spanish & Portuguese
"Your Huddled Masses": Barriers to Equal Access and a Fair Trial in the United States Legal System for Limited English Proficient (LEP) Litigants

This is a beautiful thesis on the challenges faced by Limited English Proficiency (LEP) individuals in the U.S. legal system, including but not limited to the effects of recent developments such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Its greatest strength is its heart, which shines through in the care and gentleness with which Brzezinski treats his subject(s). The organization of the thesis is clear, concise, and contained, weaving together broad concepts, particular case studies, and different methodologies, including an especially sensitive report of qualitative interviews. The interviews demonstrate their own usefulness by providing insights not present in the academic literature. The thesis offers a thoughtful synthesis of policy recommendations that could meaningfully improve the many dimensions on which access to justice for such individuals is currently undermined or denied by the ways in which their limited proficiency in English fails to be adequately respected, and their human rights fail to be adequately respected as a resul. 

Ethan Magistro
Department of Philosophy
Eternalism, Ethics, and the Spirit of Philosophical Inquiry

This thesis is extraordinarily well written, in crisp, elegant prose. Its range is astounding: the first chapter defends eternalism in the philosophy of physics, the second chapter explains how eternalism should shape our attitudes to time, and the third, how it should inflect our ethics.  The thesis carves out a coherent and original philosophical position with great sensibility, thoughtfulness, and insight. It is hard to imagine a better thesis in philosophy written by an undergraduate.

Kennedy Walls
Department of Anthropology
Plea for Life: An Ethnography of Migrant Health and Militant Humanitarianism Under the Dublin III Regulation

Based on participant-observer ethnographic research into the ways in which migrant men in Marseilles access and experience health and healthcare during a particular temporally and administratively inflected period in their efforts to seek asylum, this thesis breathes a deeply normative and humane “awareness,” as Walls writes, “of how health is a normative process of resisting and tolerating social generators of disease.”  Walls is eloquent in tracing the human aspirations which the inconsistencies of French and global policy so often betray and undermine.  This is a magnificent thesis.