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Philosophy | Selected Student Profiles

Peter Valente

Peter Valente

Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs
As the son of a foreign service officer, Peter grew up immersed in intercultural interactions. After earning his BA with honors in music composition from Earlham College in 2009, he continued to broaden his global perspective by teaching for one year in the Federated States of Micronesia, and one in Japan with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program. Upon returning from Japan, Peter served on the board of the JET alumni association in DC, and continued to study the Japanese language. AU's Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs program offers Peter the ability to grapple with practical political issues, without overlooking underlying ethical questions. Peter's current studies focus on the relationship between religious philosophy and international policy on the national scale, a field which first sparked his interest during a semester he spent as an undergraduate studying religion and history in India; he aims to apply what he has learned from both personal and academic experiences toward the discovery and implementation of ethical approaches to complex global problems.

Gina Lebkuecher

ginaleb philrel

Philosophy and Social Policy
A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Gina graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s in Philosophy and minors in Women’s and Gender Studies and Chinese Language and Culture. At Vanderbilt she held leadership positions in LGBTQIA, feminist, and nonviolence clubs, and served as a representative on the Multicultural Leadership Council. After undergrad, she taught in China for two years before coming to AU to pursue her Master’s degree. Her primary research interests are feminist philosophy and philosophy of sex and gender, transnationalism and cross-cultural philosophy, phenomenology, and ethics. Gina hopes to use her varied interests and background to explore the way philosophy can be applied to practical political and social issues, particularly with respect to thinking about marginalization. Through AU’s Philosophy and Social Policy program, she has earned an assistantship organizing annual Ethics Bowl competitions for local high school students, as well as an internship at The Arc developing policies and programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She hopes to use her experience in philosophy and community activism to further study the intersectionality and ethics behind today's social and political issues, and to make a career advancing social justice.


Nolan Harris, Jr

Nolan Harris

Philosophy and Social Policy

Nolan grew up in Washington, DC, and attended McKinley Tech High School, a public high school known for its strength in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  He was a bright student, and received a scholarship to attend Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, NY. In his junior year, he took his first philosophy course, and quickly decided to switch gears and to pursue a major in philosophy.  That same year, his teachers at RIT nominated him for one of twelve positions in PIKSI, the American Philosophy Association-sponsored summer institute in philosophy designed to attract underrepresented students to the discipline. After his successes at PIKSI, Nolan came to AU to pursue his MA in Philosophy and Social Policy, and hopes to eventually pursue a PhD in the field. His most recent Qualifying Paper, "Praxis in Religion and Education: Gutierrez's Faith, Freire's Pedagogy," was selected for Distinction by the faculty of the department.