Congratulations, Rob Williams!


Tredway Library is pleased to announce Rob Williams as the winner of the 2016 Tredway Library Prize for First-Year Research for his paper, “Life Projects: Passion versus Rationality.” Rob wrote his paper for HONR 103, “Vision and Visionaries,” taught by Dr. Jason Mahn.

To read Rob’s paper, please visit Augustana Digital Commons here:

In “Life Projects,” Rob engages philosophers Susan Wolf and Søren Kierkegaard, along with several other thinkers, building upon their work to propose his own nuanced view of what it means to live a meaningful life. In his reflection on the research process, Rob writes,

I began my research with library databases that pertained to religion … However, as I began to think about an overarching question for my essay (what does it mean to live a meaningful life?), I realized that philosophy databases could also hold a valuable trove of information. I ended up with a majority of my sources coming from databases like the Philosopher’s Index. I looked at a few articles from sociologists about religion and philosophy in an attempt to find out how people may have been influenced by their desire to find meaning in life. I was not able to incorporate any of that information into my final essay, but, going forward, I will never rule out any area of study as “irrelevant” to my essay.

Indeed, that perspective of moving beyond obvious boundaries is evidenced in Rob’s final paper. This year’s judges (Lucas Street, Rachel Weiss, and Stefanie Bluemle) were impressed by his careful engagement of difficult sources, and his integration of class texts from HONR 103 and HONR 102, as well as outside research, into a cohesive and thoughtful argument.

While Rob’s paper is clearly excellent, the judges did notice some small mechanical errors in its Chicago Manual of Style citations, which they asked him to correct. Rob’s paper is no outlier in this respect; previous library prize winners have been asked to make similar corrections, and other contenders for this year’s prize also contained small citation errors.

Please join the library in congratulating Rob on his win, and watch for upcoming announcements about a ceremony (to be held later this term) to celebrate!

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