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Fellowship Program for Paterno Fellows

Students in the Paterno Fellows Program are invited to apply for a fellowship with the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State for the spring 2019 semester. These fellowships involve working closely with and assisting Rock faculty on interdisciplinary ethics projects.
by Betsy VanNoy Nov 29, 2018

Call for Applications: Spring 2019 Undergraduate Fellowships with Rock Ethics Institute

Students in the Paterno Fellows Program are invited to apply for a fellowship with the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State for the spring 2019 semester. These fellowships involve working closely with and assisting Rock faculty on interdisciplinary ethics projects. Some projects focus on research, while others focus on developing programming and networks related to ethics at Penn State. There are four different projects that students can apply to, which are described below. Students selected as Rock Fellows will receive $1,000 to support their fellowship.

All current Paterno Fellows are eligible to apply. Applicants must select one project to apply to and submit the following materials:

(1) Cover letter (one page) that indicates which fellowship you are applying to, why it interests you, your relevant qualifications, and how you would contribute to the project

(2) Resumé/CV

Please include both these items in a single PDF and send it by email to rockethics@psu.edu. The deadline to apply is 5:00pm EST on Monday, December 17, 2018. Fellowship winners will be notified by January 7, 2019. If you have questions about the fellowship or application process, please contact Ben Jones at btj7@psu.edu.

Descriptions of Spring 2019 Fellowships

1. Environmental Humanities Research Network Fellowship

The Rock Ethics Institute (REI) seeks a Paterno Fellow in Spring 2019 to assist with launching the Environmental Humanities Research Network (EHRN). Numerous faculty across the University Park campus engage in environment-related research from a humanities perspective, but currently no formal structure exists to support interactions and collaborations between these scholars. The College of the Liberal Arts, the Sustainability Institute, and the Humanities Institute (along with REI) have expressed interest in supporting environmental humanities research. Opportunities also exist to partner with Penn State Altoona’s Environmental Studies Program. Our aim is to launch EHRN as an interdisciplinary faculty working group to explore opportunities for supporting and enriching the environmental humanities at Penn State. EHRN’s activities might evolve to include research working groups, workshops, guest speakers, and preparation of a proposal for the Provost’s strategic planning initiative. The EHRN Paterno Fellow would collaborate with REI’s directors to launch this network, which will include identifying faculty to invite as founding members of EHRN, coordinating planning meetings, researching collaborative opportunities with Penn State partners, assisting in the planning of future programming, identifying models and best practices at other institutions, and contributing to grant proposal preparation. This project will provide opportunities for the Fellow to learn about the growing field of environmental humanities, to interact with leading scholars in this area, to gain research experience and develop other professional skills, and to contribute to the future of environmental humanities at Penn State. The Fellow will work directly with Ted Toadvine, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Rock Ethics Institute.

2. FIELDS Project Fellowship

The FIELDS (Food Innovation, Ethics, Leadership, Development, and Sustainability) Project is an interdisciplinary research/teaching initiative dedicated to agricultural and food ethics, hosted by the Rock Ethics Institute. We are looking for a Paterno Fellow to provide intellectual leadership, conduct original research, and co-author manuscripts in order to further advance the project’s core mission: integrating ethical concerns, processes, and objectives into interdisciplinary food and agricultural scholarship, from field to fork, across multiple stakeholder groups.

The Paterno Fellow working with the FIELDS Project will make scholarly contributions to our ongoing research concerning the ethical implications/potential of plant-based proteins and cellular agriculture (i.e. “lab-grown meat”). Specifically, the Fellow will be asked to engage in literature reviews and conduct telephone interviews with farmers, agribusiness companies, NGOs, policymakers, and other stakeholders in order to address the following research questions: (a) To what extent can plant-based proteins and cellular agriculture address societal concerns about food safety, public health, food justice, the need for alternative economies, community food sovereignty, and a viable agricultural jobs that pay a living wage? (b) What are the social, environmental, economic, and bioethical implications of plant-based proteins and cellular agriculture with respect to international development and global food security? (c) What types of technical skills, experiences, and training will future leaders in these areas need in order to effectively meet these types of ethical challenges? The Fellow will be working directly with Robert Chiles, Assistant Professor of Rural Sociology, but will also have the opportunity to engage with other faculty members as well as graduate students.

3. Moral Agency and Moral Development Initiative Fellowship

The Moral Agency and Moral Development Initiative would like to recruit a Paterno Fellow for spring 2019. The Paterno Fellow would work with Dr. Daryl Cameron to co-organize and participate in the interdisciplinary Moral Agency Workshop, a working group comprising faculty and graduate students from a range of disciplines (e.g., psychology, philosophy, political science, sociology, media studies, bioethics). The Fellow would play a central role in co-organizing the “Expanding Empathy” lecture series, which will consist of 3–4 external speakers who will talk about topics related to empathy, morality, and pro-sociality. Finally, the Fellow would be invited to participate in the weekly meetings of the Empathy and Moral Psychology Lab, to learn more about psychological approaches to these topics. These opportunities would afford the Fellow the opportunity to learn about diverse research perspectives on empathy and moral decision-making, and to interact with prominent scholars both here at Penn State and from around the country.

4. Psychology and Disparities in Criminal Justice Fellowship

Associate Professor of Psychology José Soto would like to recruit a Paterno Fellow to work on a project with him for the Spring 2019 academic semester. The study being planned is an examination of race and drug addiction as factors influencing empathic engagement with purported criminal defendants and how empathic engagement, in turn, influences decisions around culpability and punishment. This project is motivated by a desire to understand the pervasive racial disparities that exist within the criminal justice system which point to more adverse outcomes for Black Americans, relative to Whites, such as greater likelihood of incarceration by age 30, greater likelihood of receiving the death penalty, and greater likelihood of being executed (Baldus, Pulaski, & Woodworth, 1983; Deathpenaltyinfo.org, 2018; Jacobs et al., 2007). Addressing these disparities is a moral imperative, but to mitigate the problem we must understand its root causes. One likely reason for these disparities is a tendency to avoid empathizing with Black individuals, which leads to increased perceptions of culpability and harsher punishments. This empathic avoidance may be more pronounced in contexts involving drug addiction, which are more likely to be associated with moral weakness.

The proposed work provides a number of opportunities for Paterno Fellows interested in prosocial behavior, social justice, moral character, and social disparities. First, the Fellow will gain direct experience in designing and conducting experiments from a psychological perspective. We have a prototype for this type of study, having already collected some pilot data during the summer, making it a feasible project for the spring semester. Second, the Fellow will learn to use data collection platforms that yield greater diversity than subject pool participants typically used in research. Lastly, the Fellow will learn statistical techniques in conjunction with the Methodology Center in Human Development and Family Studies to help analyze multilevel data.