Meghan Sullivan is the Wilsey Family Collegiate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. She serves as Director of the NDIAS, a university-wide research institute based in Notre Dame Research. The NDIAS promotes issue-engaged, inclusive, and interdisciplinary study of questions that affect our ability to lead valuable, meaningful lives. Each year, the NDIAS convenes a diverse group of faculty fellows, graduate students, and undergraduate scholars to participate in a focused residential research community, with topics organized by an annual theme. Fellowship applications have just closed for our 2023-24 Research Theme: The Long Run.
Sullivan’s research tends to focus on philosophical problems concerning time, modality, rational planning, value theory, and religious belief (and sometimes all five at once). She has published work in many leading philosophy journals, including Nous, Ethics and Philosophical Studies. Her first book — Time Biases — came out with Oxford University Press in summer 2018. Time Biases develops a theory of diachronic rationality, personal identity and reason-based planning. You can read more about it in a recent New Yorker piece.
She is now writing a book on the role love plays in grounding moral, political and religious reasoning. It is tentatively entitled Samaritanism: Moral Responsibility and Our Inner Lives. And with Paul Blaschko, she has just finished a book on virtue ethics based on the hit God and the Good Life project. It is called The Good Life Method and was released nationwide through Penguin Press in January 2022. You can order it here.
Sullivan is deeply interested in the ways philosophy contributes to the good life and the best methods for promoting philosophical thought. Sullivan served as the Principal Investigator for the Mellon Foundation’s Philosophy as a Way of Life grant (2018-2022). The Chronicle of Higher Ed covered one of Sullivan’s major teaching initiatives. She regularly gives public-facing philosophy talks and podcasts.
Sullivan teaches courses at all levels and founded Notre Dame’s God and the Good Life Program. GGL introduces undergraduates to big philosophical questions concerning happiness, morality and meaning… and key methods for wrestling with them. In Fall 2019 she team-taught an FTT and Philosophy exploratory seminar about NBC’s The Good Place called The Good Class. Sullivan occasionally teaches gateway seminars like The Examined Life, and specialized graduate seminars on time, modality, philosophical logic, rationality and value. In Fall 2020, working with campus partners, she launched an interdisciplinary graduate seminar and funded fellowship program within the NDIAS. With Mark McKenna (ND Technology Ethics Center/Law School) and Ted Chiang (’20-21 NDIAS fellow) she offered a 2020 seminar on Ted Chiang’s fiction and the role of narrative, philosophical and legal analysis in shaping ethical thinking about technology. In Spring 2022, Sullivan is teaming up with Michael Schreffler (Art, Art History and Design) to offer a seminar on the philosophy, design, and business strategy behind Thom Browne and major cultural changes in how we think of suits. The course and Browne’s NDIAS residency was covered recently by Vogue.
Sullivan has been honored with one of Notre Dame’s Joyce Awards for Teaching, with the Provost’s All-Faculty Team Award, and with the City of South Bend’s 40 Under 40 Award.
She is a co-editor for the journal Nous. She recently served as an Executive Committee Member-At-Large for the American Philosophical Association (Central Division) and is the co-chair (with Kenny Easwaran) of the 2023 Central APA Program Committee. She serves on way too many committees and frequently does research with postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students. You can get all of the gory details by reading her CV.
Sullivan has degrees from the University of Virginia (BA: Philosophy and Politics, Highest Distinction), Oxford (B.Phil: Philosophy), and Rutgers (PhD: Philosophy). She studied at Oxford as a US Rhodes Scholar (Balliol College).
When not philosophizing or leading NDIAS, Sullivan enjoys cooking, biking, building elaborate Lego sets, reading science fiction, and traveling the world. She cheers for the Fighting Irish and Virginia Cavaliers in all of their endeavors, and when they play each other she has a rational crisis.