Marberger Fellow Discusses Plans

By Catalina Righter
For Daniel Schaefer, a love-hate relationship with politics and a fascination with the philosophy behind it is a source of intellectual curiosity.
Schaefer, a freshman and the president of the class of 2020, is the first recipient of the Jacob Marberger ’18 Endowed Memorial Fellowship. The fellowship was established in memory of Marberger, a student who committed suicide last year. According to a press release, the fellowship is awarded to, “a student who exhibits the same love of learning and deep intellectual curiosity that characterized the fellowship’s namesake.”
This October, Schaefer said the professor of his GRW, Dr. Joseph Prud’homme, selected him for the opportunity to compete for the fellowship. It is worth $2,500 and requires the student to complete an independent research project that incorporates conflict resolution.
Schaefer will put the award toward the cost of attending the Oxford summer seminar in 2017, where he will complete his research in the fields of philosophy, politics, culture, and religion. “It’s really wonderful because you’re at Oxford, so you have access to all of the resources they have to offer… I am interested in perhaps evaluating the political, cultural, and economic differences that exist in the Western world between majority Catholic and majority Protestant countries.”

Marberger Tree
The European beech tree was planted on Oct. 26 near the quad. According to a WC press release, “Known for its lofty height and elegance, the tree’s branches, when grown, carry leaves of purple-green and sweep gracefully to the ground.”

The context of the scholarship and its ties to Marberger are not lost on Schaefer, though he did not attend WC at the time of Marberger’s death. “More than anything, I’m extremely humbled….I know that that was a really huge event for the College, and especially being a first-year student, it’s a tremendous honor to receive this recognition, and I don’t take it lightly at all. Certainly I wish the circumstances didn’t even exist to where this fellowship would be a thing, but I plan to do the most that I can with it and all the other opportunities I have at WC.”
Schaefer plans to major in political science and is also interested in philosophy, Spanish, French, and religious studies.
“Politics is a huge passion of mine,” he said. “For a while I was actually not sure about pursuing a political science major, but given recent events with the election and everything, I’ve decided it’s a good way to make difference and it’s such an important thing to learn about.”
In addition to acting as class president, he is on the SGA Diversity Committee and participates in the College Democrats and Spanish Club. “Something I care a lot about is inclusion of all people and understanding between cultures and backgrounds, so I’m very pleased with the opportunity to work for the Diversity Committee.”
His GRW with Dr. Prud’homme has helped him further his studies in the kind of intersections he will be examining at the Oxford seminar. “I don’t have a background in religion; it’s always been something that’s very fascinating to me…. The title of the GRW is ‘Religious Freedom,’ so it deals with the intersection between politics and religion. Even from a non-religious standpoint, religious freedom is such an important concept for our society,” he said.
“It actually has drawn me more to philosophy than political science,” he said of the class. “I’ve kind of had a love-hate relationship with politics over the last couple of months as I think we all have… Something I’ve learned particularly through my GRW and my work with Professor Prud’homme is the philosophical basis for a lot of our political viewpoints and parties.
“I mentioned I’m a part of the College Democrats, but I’ve come to really understand a lot of the philosophy behind conservatism a lot better than I did before. And likewise, a lot of the philosophy behind modern American liberalism.”
The theme of looking deeper into the reasons for people’s actions will carry into his research for the fellowship. “Conflict resolution is important, and I think as we learned in a very, very hard way, not knowing how to deal with conflict, with anger, with feelings of being left out can have very grave consequences. I’m not sure exactly what my research with conflict resolution will focus on at this point, but I will say that whatever I do, it will be with the recognition that conflict resolution is very important in promoting peaceful, constructive, and respectful dialogue,” he said. “I believe in engaging with ideas, even one’s that make you deeply uncomfortable.”

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