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Alice Admire Outstanding Teaching Award: Dr. Sarah Roberts-Cady

Dr. Sarah Roberts-Cady

Associate Professor and Chair, Political Science/Philosophy Department

Dr. Sarah Roberts-Cady, associate professor of philosophy and gender and women’s studies at Fort Lewis College, has long been dedicated to teaching her students to be critical thinkers. But just what does it mean to create a student who is a critical thinker?

For Sarah it means helping students learn skills such as identifying assumptions, both their own and others; finding and analyzing evidence for those assumptions; developing an understanding of different viewpoints before criticizing; asking questions; and, perhaps most importantly, cultivating a passion for learning.

It is through teaching philosophy, in addition to effective reading and writing skills, that Sarah is building critical thinkers and making a difference in her students’ lives.

Sarah’s own path toward teaching began with a high school philosophy class that inspired her. She was fascinated by the way that philosophy challenged her own basic assumptions about herself and the world around her. It was that excitement that led her to continue her studies in philosophy at Linfield College in Oregon and later at Purdue University, where she earned her Ph.D.

“I wanted to have answers to the biggest questions of our lives,” she says. “Questions like: What makes life meaningful?  What is the best life to live? Of course, I am still searching for answers to those questions.”

Her continued search for answers is one of the characteristics that make her such an effective teacher.

“Perhaps most importantly, teaching students to think critically requires that I think critically too,” she explains. “I have to be as curious and excited about philosophy as I want them to be. I need to ask questions, to question my assumptions, to seek to understand others’ viewpoints, to look for evidence and reasons, and to nurture my own passion for learning. For this reason, I see my scholarship activities as closely linked to my teaching activities. I need to remain intellectually alive, in the classroom and outside it, in order to nurture the intellectual life of my students.”

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