Bringing Philosophy to Life

Thomas Jefferson Award honors faculty who applies philosophy to life

Geoffrey Sayre-McCord is presented the Thomas Jefferson Award by Chancellor Kevin Guskewicz

Thomas Jefferson Award honors faculty who applies philosophy to life

In their end-of-course comments, Geoffrey Sayre-McCord’s students describe him as “amazing,” “engaging,” “academically stimulating,” “respectful” and “brilliant” — as well as “a little goofy, as philosophy professors should be.”

They make it clear that it’s not only the content of an introductory class like “Virtue, Value and Happiness,” with its readings of Plato, Aristotle, Kant and Mills, that has helped them explore the nature of value. It’s also the enthusiastic way he teaches — moving through the classroom, engaging individual students, sharing personal stories — that provides them a living example of a man happy in his work and in his life.

“He finds a way to make dusty philosophic diatribes come alive and applies them well to the lives we live today,” one student wrote of the Morehead-Cain Alumni Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and the director of the philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) program in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Faculty Council honored Sayre-McCord on Jan. 20 with the 2022-23 Thomas Jefferson Award, established in 1961 by the Robert Earll McConnell Foundation and presented annually to the faculty member who best exemplifies Jefferson’s values of democracy, public service and the pursuit of knowledge.

Teaching his own classes, running the PPE minor, working with the Parr Center for Ethics and National High School Ethics Bowl, Sayre-McCord is a professor dedicated to showing philosophy’s relevance to everyday life.

Read the complete Carolina Story…Opens in new window

Readers Also Viewed...

Image divided into six squares showing different buildings and spaces on campus with the words Carolina/Stories written across the middle
Campaign Priorities

Explore the Campaign’s Impact

Explore the impact of the Campaign for Carolina and the ways your gifts are changing lives on campus and around the world in this special digital edition of Carolina Stories magazine.

Sonny Griffith seated at a table in a library in front of a laptop
Student Support

Following the Narrative

A Carolina Covenant Scholar pursues career-enhancing experiences through the Career Accelerator Program.

Ana Zurita Posas, Scott Hamilton, and Kevin Guskiewicz stand laughing at the Golden LEAF Luncheon
Student Support

Supporting North Carolina’s Rural Communities

Golden LEAF Scholarship increases opportunities for rural North Carolinians

Veteran Matthew Colon stands in a barn with a horse, facing the camera. An American flag is in the background.

Helping Veterans Thrive

An empowering clinical outreach program at UNC-Chapel Hill offers veterans and first responders new hope through holistic health care.

Faculty Support

Early Career Excellence

UNC faculty honored with ​​2023 Cottrell Scholar Award

Bill Starling stands in front of the Kenan-Flagler Business School

Honoring a Mentor

Bill Starling ‘75 honors his mentor and friend Cal Atwood