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A headshot of Delaney Thull at the Old Well.

Delaney Thull’s interest in philosophy began with the encouragement of her family. 

“I grew up in Mobile, Alabama, on the diverse and beautiful Gulf Coast,” said Thull, a fourth-year philosophy Ph.D. student. Her parents “modeled a strong commitment to caring for people” in her community and to “taking care of the natural world we share and the civic institutions we build together.” 

In her undergraduate program at Princeton University, her studies dove deep into moral and political philosophy. When it came time to choose a Ph.D. program, Thull knew she wanted to be immersed in the full breadth of the areas of philosophy. 

“I was ultimately drawn to Carolina philosophy because of the broad strengths of the faculty and the generalist approach to training grad students,” she said. Her graduate studies have “covered everything from Hume and Nietzsche to symbolic logic and philosophy of math.” 

A recipient of UNC’s Maynard Adams Fellowship for the Public Humanities, Delaney is researching the value of emotion in our lives for her dissertation, especially as it relates to how we navigate public life and political exchange. 

Thull is also a graduate assistant at the Parr Center for Ethics where she instructs an experiential learning seminar in moral philosophy.  

“My UNC students developed a workshop for teacher training on how to integrate case-based reasoning and ethical deliberation into the classroom,” she explained. Students then traveled to UNC Wilmington’s philosophy department to meet with colleagues and high school teachers from eastern North Carolina. 

She is also an organizer for the National High School Ethics Bowl, an event hosted annually at Carolina that invites students from across the country to engage in thoughtful discussion of moral issues.  

The NHSEB just celebrated its 10th anniversary at the beginning of April. Thull edits and writes for a twice-yearly publication of a collection of morally complex cases, a favorite part of her role with the program. This year’s National Case Set included topics like the use of ChatGPT, the impact of legalizing name, image and likeness earnings for female college athletes, and the deployment of lethal force robots in policing. 

“These are deeply nuanced topics in ethics,” she said. “It is super-gratifying to see high schoolers from across the country unpack the cases using rigorous moral analysis and respectful deliberation.” 

Thull’s work with high school and undergraduate students is an extension of her passion for her studies and research, and for the field itself, one that touches our everyday life. 

“I love philosophy because it is a foundational field for so many major ideas in the history of human thought.” 

By Jess Abel ’19

UNC-Chapel Hill celebrates Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week April 3-7. Stay tuned for stories on our website about graduate students in the College.

A shorter version of this story originally appeared as part of the on-going series, College Up Close. 

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