Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame

Meghan Sullivan is Professor of Philosophy and the Rev. John A O’Brien Collegiate Chair at the University of Notre Dame. This summer she’ll be stepping in as Director of the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS), a university-wide institute based in Notre Dame Research. Each year, the NDIAS convenes an interdisciplinary group of faculty fellows (external and internal) and top PhD students to study questions that require a joint-focus, benefit from sustained research, and advance our understanding on core issues that affect our ability to lead valuable, meaningful lives.  NDIAS runs a weekly research-intensive workshop, an innovative interdisciplinary RA program for undergraduates, and a host of public outreach events.

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 of the leading philosophy journals, including NousEthics and Philosophical Studies.  You can read many of those papers here.  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 rational planning.  She is now writing a second research book on intellectual commitment, ethical commitment, and rational faith.  It’s tentatively titled Agapism: A Theory of Our Inner Lives and Outer Commitments.

Sullivan teaches courses at all levels and directs 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.  Sullivan also occasionally teaches gateway seminars like The Examined Life, and specialized graduate seminars on time, modality, philosophical logic, rationality and value.  She is developing an interdisciplinary graduate seminar tied with NDIAS themes.

Sullivan is deeply interested in the ways philosophy contributes to the good life and the best methods for promoting philosophical thought. Since 2017, she has raised over $1.2M to support projects for research and teaching in publicly engaged philosophy.  Sullivan is currently the Principal Investigator for the Mellon Foundation’s Philosophy as a Way of Life grant (2018-2021). Information about joining the Mellon Network can be found at Philife.nd.edu.  She is also the PI for the John Templeton Foundation’s Philosophy and Religion Engaged with the Public (PREP) pilot program.  And in July 2018 she co-organized an NEH Institute on Philosophy as a Way of Life with Stephen Angle (Wesleyan) and Stephen Grimm (Fordham).  The Engaged Philosophy Group collaborates with faculty at many departments in the US and abroad. The Chronicle of Higher Ed recently covered one of Sullivan’s major teaching initiatives. With Paul Blaschko, she is currently writing a general audience philosophy book based on the God and the Good Life project. That title is under contract with Penguin Press (Penguin Random House).

Sullivan regularly writes shorter general interest essays and gives public philosophy talks.  She is a co-editor for the Philosophy of Religion portfolio of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  She serves on (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.

That’s no moon!

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 Rhodes Scholar (Balliol College).

When not philosophizing or working on NDIAS, Sullivan enjoys cooking, biking, building elaborate Star Wars 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.