Politics Ph.D. Student Believes in Interdisciplinary Approach
Date published: Oct. 7, 2015
Had Pavlos Papadopoulos, PhD ’16, not decided to pursue his doctorate in politics
through the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts’ Institute of Philosophic Studies,
he likely would have delved into the world of foreign policy, foreign affairs and
think tanks. As it is, he is planting firm roots in the academic world, from presenting
at the Texas Graduate Symposium in the Liberal Arts to attending a seminar on Abraham
Lincoln in New York City.
The Texas Graduate Symposium in the Liberal Arts is a joint effort of SMU and Rice
University, held on the Rice campus in Houston. Papadopoulos’ paper compared the philosophies
of two thinkers on liberal education, Leo Strauss and Josef Pieper. According to Papadopoulos,
Strauss’s philosophy is more in line with Papadopoulos’ undergraduate education at
St. John’s College, which emphasizes the Great Books in a way that presents each text
as equally valid and puts the responsibility on the students to determine the significance
of the texts relative to each other.
Pieper, however, is more similar to UD in his focus on tradition and theology.
“Because one style is that of my undergraduate studies and the other that of my graduate,
it ended up feeling a lot more personal than I’d realized it would,” Papadopoulos
In 2011, Papadopoulos took a class on Abraham Lincoln from UD’s Associate Professor
of Politics David Upham, which sparked his interest in the 16th president. At the
beginning of August of this year, Papadopoulos attended a Hertog Foundation Advanced
Institute, “The Political Thought of Abraham Lincoln.”
The week-long seminar took place at the New York Historical Society and was led by
Allen C. Guelzo, Ph.D., who is the Henry R. Luce professor of the Civil War era and
the director of Civil War era studies at Gettysburg College, as well as the author
of several books concerning Lincoln. Guest lecturers included Richard Brookhiser, National Review editor and author of books on the Founding Fathers
and presidents including Lincoln, and James Oakes, historian and professor at the
City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center.
“One of my favorite parts of the seminar was meeting very interesting graduate students
from other institutions,” Papadopoulos said.
Once he has received his doctorate from Braniff, Papadopoulos hopes to teach in an
environment with an interdisciplinary approach, like UD. For example, at UD, although
he’s working on his doctorate in politics, Papadopoulos has taught philosophy courses.
He has also collaborated with Literary Tradition instructors to facilitate class discussions
on, for example, Homer versus Plato.
“I believe the different disciplines should talk to each other rather than being walled
off,” he said.