Eisenhart Awards for Outstanding Teaching: Katie Terezakis

Philosophy professor believes teaching ‘keeps her honest’

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A. Sue Weisler

Katie Terezakis

Although Katie Terezakis, associate professor in the Department of Philosophy, teaches a wide variety of subjects in philosophy, she most enjoys returning to the ancient Greeks, whose lineage she shares.

“I tell my students that Socrates remains our role model, which probably means that ideally, good teaching entails upsetting people every day,” she said.

Terezakis, who has taught at RIT for nearly 10 years, is receiving one of this year’s Eisenhart Awards for Outstanding Teaching.

“I’m lucky enough to be able to talk to students every day about some of the things I care most about,” she said. “Teaching keeps you honest. You cannot stand in front of people, day after day, without clarifying what you really mean, deciding which ideas and which values work and which do not, and updating your own studies accordingly.”

Terezakis grew up in Connecticut, attended college in Heidelberg, Germany, and went to graduate school at the New School for Social Research in New York City. She lives on a former farm “almost in the middle of nowhere, which was my aspiration when I left Manhattan a decade ago,” she said.

She enjoys gardening, cooking, making wine and providing animals sanctuary, and is obviously passionate about philosophy.

She wants her students to feel as though the philosophical canon is “their rightful inheritance” and “an ongoing tradition that is full of techniques of reasoning and exercises of imagination that enable each of us to cultivate ideas that work, to clear out the biases that don’t, and to cope realistically with what remains unknown.”

She is writing a book on Rochester-born philosopher John William Miller, which expands on some of her earlier published work in linguistic philosophy. She looks forward to screening that new research in her classes.

“I want to keep the candor demanded in the classroom alive in my own writing,” she said. “Teaching in the philosophy department at RIT has allowed me to do that.”