Burke Townsend Clear Thinking Award

The Department of Philosophy is pleased to announce an anonymous donor has donated funds to create the Burke Townsend Clear Thinking Award.  The award is to be given to a senior in philosophy with a preference for students majoring in a STEM field.   Burke Townsend was a professor of philosophy at the University of Montana between 1974-2006, specializing in philosophy of science.  When commenting on the award Townsend writes, "I recall suggesting to the award’s sponsor, only somewhat in jest, that the award might be the ‘Shades of Gray’ scholarship, because of what seems to me to be one of the currently greatest obstacles to good thinking, the inclination to seek tidy yes-or-no answers and to be uncomfortable with probabilities, degrees of evidence, and concepts essentially dependent upon an incapacity for crisp definition.  Good thinking about most matters is seldom a process of tidy resolutions.  And think of the benefits—a ‘Shades of Gray Award’ would surely generate much more interest on the web site than will the given title with the highlighted full name of some old dude that no one will remember in another few years.''  It is no wonder that Burke's good sense of humor, sensitivity to the complexities of the world, and his desire to help students navigate them inspired an award bearing his name.  All of our students are automatically considered for the award.

Award winners:

  • 2016 Sierra LaBonte