2020 President’s Scholar: Lawrence Quill

SJSU Political Science Professor Lawrence Quill.

SJSU Political Science Professor Lawrence Quill is the 2019-2020 recipient of the President’s Scholar Award. Photo: Courtesy of Lawrence Quill.

Growing up in London, England, Lawrence Quill would skip out on cricket or football matches in favor of visiting the British House of Commons to watch legislators in action. The political science professor at San Jose State University was inspired by people whose political ideologies differed but who encouraged lively, informed debate. Quill became an internationally-recognized political theorist, co-founding the Stanford University Center for Ethics and serving as a resident fellow at Stanford before coming to SJSU in 2005. In 2015, he was a visiting fellow at the Center for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at Cambridge University’s Wolfson College and at Clare Hall College in 2017. Described by Political Science Chair Kenneth B. Peter as a “Renaissance Man” whose work explores questions of citizenship and public freedom within a global context, Quill’s academic achievements have earned him the 2019-2020 President’s Scholar Award at SJSU.

“If ethics considers what it means to be good, political theory considers what it means to be a good citizen,” writes Quill, who is on sabbatical while he researches his fourth book. “Both ethics and political theory are trying to make sense of a complex and ever-changing world by examining our assumptions about individual and social life.”

The author of Liberty after Liberalism, Civil Disobedience: (Un)Common Sense in Mass Democracies, and Secrets and Democracy: From Arcana Imperii to WikiLeaks, Quill has contributed to The Routledge Encyclopedia of Democratic Thought and The Routledge Encyclopedia of British Culture. Quill says he is proudest of “helping students to believe in their own abilities and, wherever possible, move on to graduate school.”

“If ethics considers what it means to be good, political theory considers what it means to be a good citizen.”

“San Jose State feels like home because of the different voices and the mutual respect,” writes Quill. “I regard this award as an honor that is being bestowed upon my department, full-time faculty members, part-time faculty members, administrative staff and students. I learn from them all and they have made my professional life a very happy one.”

The President’s Scholar Award recognizes a faculty member who has achieved widespread recognition based on the quality of scholarship, performance or creative activities.

Julia Halprin Jackson

Julia Halprin Jackson is a writer on San Jose State University's Strategic Communications and Marketing team.

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