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Religion and Philosophy The content below is information specific to this academic department's fields of interest.

Department Events and News

Robert Sharp, Associate Professor of Philosophy

Dr. Sharp, Associate Professor of Philosophy, does research in contemporary ethics issues, particularly ethics and technology issues.  He is currently working on a book about Internet Ethics. Topics will include online justice groups, ethics and social media, and epistemic problems in determining how to treat other people online. He is especially interested in the way that the internet as a medium has changed how we treat each other, both online and offline, as well as the ways in which the internet has exacerbated group polarization and political division. Previously published articles include a look at online friendship (in Ethics and Information Technology Vol. 14. Issue 3) and Kant and Dementia (in Bioethics Vol. 26, Issue 5).

Dr. Sharp also writes for the Philosophy and Pop Culture series, which he believes is a valuable way to show the continued relevance of philosophy to everyday issues.  His most recent article in the series examined what would have happened if Superman had landed in the Third Reich.  Previous articles explored the philosophy of Family Guy, Heroes, and Battlestar Galactica. In fact, he's so interested in how philosophy intersects with pop culture that he started a blog examining ethics in roleplaying and video games, which you can find here:

Outside of publication, Dr. Sharp is a regular contributor and organizer of the Pittsburgh Area Philosophy Colloquium, which brings together scholars in the region for a day of sharing research and networking.  He also advises the Philosophy Club at Muskingum.

Melissa Conroy, Associate Professor of Religion

Dr. Conroy, Associate Professor of Religion, is a comparative scholar of religion whose work focuses on religion and bodies.  Dr. Conroy is currently working on a book on particular bodies, religion, and the theories of psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan.  This project is highly interdisciplinary, combining research from such diverse fields as visual studies, mathematics, ethology, neuroscience, gender studies, and semiotics.  Conroy was on sabbatical in spring 2016, during which time she worked on a chapter that explores how humans orient themselves to the world by examining the burial of a Neanderthal man.

Previously published articles by Dr. Conroy concern mythology and transgenderism [Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, (45.2)] and religion and film [Journal of Religion and Film, (11.2, 8.1)]. Most recently she contributed an entry on Islam and sexual orientation to The Sage Encyclopedia of Psychology and Gender.

Dr. Conroy is the co-chair of the Film minor and offers cross-listed courses in Philosophy, Film, and Gender Studies.  She is also active in campus life by serving as an advisor to the LGBT group, Equality Alliance, as well to as the Delta Gamma Theta sorority.

Todd Lekan, Professor of Philosophy

Dr. Lekan, Professor of Philosophy, holds an administrative appointment as Accreditation Liaison Officer for University Accreditation, in addition to teaching courses for the Philosophy Department.  

Dr. Lekan's current research interests include William James' moral philosophy and pragmatist approaches to ethical issues such as disabilities and animal ethics.

Representative publications include:  

“A Reconstruction of James’ Normative Ethics,” William James Studies, Vol. 9, (2013), 144-168
“A Jamesian Approach to Environmental Ethics,” Contemporary Pragmatism, Vol. 9, No. 1 (2012), 5-24
“Friendship as an Impersonal Value,” The Journal of the Southwestern Philosophical Society, Vol. 26, (2010), 71-79

Dr. Lekan presented a paper on Steven Fesmire's book Dewey during an Author Meets Critics Session at the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association in Washington D.C. in January, 2016. 

He presented a paper titled "The Marriage of Ideals and Strenuous Actions: Exploring William James’ Account of Significant Life," at the annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy in Portland, OR in March, 2016.  He published:  "The Marriage of Ideals and Strenuous Actions: Exploring William James' Account of Significant Life" in Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society Vol. 52, No. 4 (Fall 2016), pp. 576-597.

He also published a review in Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews (12/5/16) of the book Toward a Pragmatist Metaethics, by Diana Heney (Routledge, 2016).

His paper "Who Are Moral Philosophers?  Ethics James Style" won the Joseph L. Blau Prize, which is awarded annually at the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy to the author of the paper that makes the most significant contribution to the history of American Philosophy from colonial times to the present.  The paper was presented at the conference in March 2017 and will be published in an upcoming issue of the Pluralist.  This is the second time that Lekan has received the Blau prize.

Peter Gosnell, Associate Professor of Religion, Department Chair

Dr. Gosnell, Associate Professor of Religion, continues his research in the area of biblical ethics and is working on an article on the ethical core of the Gospel According to Luke. This past year, his recent book The Ethical Vision of the Bible. Learning Good from Knowing God received a “starred review” from the Library Journal.  In addition to his interests in biblical ethics, Dr. Gosnell loves studying the epistles of Paul.

Dr. Gosnell also continues his involvement with the Eastern Great Lakes Biblical Society, a regional meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature.  As a recent president, he serves on the conference nominating committee.  His presidential address “Comparison, Reversal and Mercy. The Tales of Two Gospels and How They Might Matter,” came into print this past Spring through the conference’s peer-reviewed journal, Conversations with the Biblical World (XXXIII: 1-31). He just finished a second term as one of the New Testament editors for the journal.

Rick Nutt, Professor of Religion, Arts and Humanities Division Chairm Sabbatical

Dr. Nutt’s area of specialization is religious history in the U.S.  His research interests center around religion and cultural issues, particularly religion and war and religion and national security.

In 2017, the Journal of Presbyterian History will publish Dr. Nutt’s article tentatively titled “United States Diplomatic Representation at the Vatican: The Presbyterian Reaction.”  In October of 2016, he will present an adult education class at Mt. Washington Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, drawn from his most recent book, An Historical Study of United States Religious Responses to the Vietnam War: A Matter of National Morality.