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Delving into ethical questions

September 7, 2012

Trevor Bieber loves rare books, particularly from the 18th and 19th centuries.

For Trevor, these books are invaluable to his academic research. But aquiring these rare tomes can be pricey. That’s why Trevor, a PhD student in philosophy, is a grateful recipient of the William A. McKenzie, Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS), held at Foundation Western.

“Many of the books necessary for my research have to be shipped from England, adding costs to my research,” he says. “This scholarship has allowed me to gain access to books that are key to my studies.”

Trevor comes to philosophy with great curiosity. “I’ve always been interested in exploring the big unanswered questions, and the idea of how we can use reason and logic as a way of describing our experiences,” he says. “What defines a truth or belief –and why?”

Admittedly, his work isn’t exactly “top of mind” thinking for most people, but that’s what makes his OGS funding more significant. “Often, the value produced by historians, artists, musicians, writers and philosophers cannot be directly converted into monetary value,” he says. “Nonetheless, their work contributes to the well-being of society.”

“Many of the books necessary for my research have to be shipped from England, adding costs to my research. This scholarship has allowed me to gain access to books that are key to my studies.”

Trevor’s life, however, hasn’t always been immersed in philosophy. After growing up in Saskatoon (as a Roughriders fan), Trevor moved to London a decade ago. He completed his undergraduate philosophy degree at Western in 2004, and then he worked at men’s missions and explored Roman Catholic ministry. Trevor also worked in the financial and retail sectors, lived in Ireland for nearly a year (where he developed a penchant for stout beer and rugby), and travelled to France, Italy, Greece and Switzerland.

Recently, he had the unique opportunity to thank his scholarship donor, Mrs. Anne McKenzie, in person. “The McKenzie’s donation has helped contribute to one of my most rewarding years of graduate studies so far,” says Trevor, who plans to graduate in 2014.

This fall will see him venturing into the classroom to teach ethics. “I find it easier to get students to question the values they already have,” he adds, “and then help them connect those values to decisions they make everyday.”


This article appeared in the 2012 edition of Student Awards Recipient Report
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