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Top UC accolade for renowned philosopher

Top UC accolade for renowned philosopher

Internationally renowned University of Canterbury philosopher Professor Denis Dutton (Humanities) will be awarded one of the University’s highest honours during UC’s graduation events at the Christchurch Town Hall this week.

Three capping ceremonies will be held at the town hall on Wednesday 15 December and Friday 17 December, with 1498 students receiving their degrees, diplomas and certificates - 1112 in person and a further 328 in absentia.

Professor Dutton will be presented with the University of Canterbury Research Medal, the University’s highest recognition of an outstanding contribution to research, during Wednesday morning’s graduation ceremony.

Professor Dutton’s prolific and celebrated contributions to the field of the philosophy of art have placed him at the forefront of academic excellence. A referee for Professor Dutton’s nomination, Professor Steven Pinker of Harvard University, said Professor Dutton “is a true intellectual leader, an astonishingly productive and daring scholar and one of the most influential academics in the world”.

Professor Dutton’s magnum opus, The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure and Human Evolution (Oxford University Press and Bloomsbury Press, 2009), has accomplished the rare feat of becoming a hugely respected academic study that has also achieved commercial success. It has so far been translated into five languages and has become a landmark in its field.

As well as developing philosophical theories, Professor Dutton has sought to encourage recognition of the work of others. In 1976, while working at the University of Michigan, he founded the journal, Philosophy and Literature, as an outlet for new ideas in a developing field. The journal was taken over in 1983 by Johns Hopkins University Press, where it remains one of their flagship journals and has received the coveted “A” rating in the European Union’s international rating of scholarly journals. Thirty-five years on, Professor Dutton continues as editor.

In October 1998, Professor Dutton created Arts & Letters Daily, a website with carefully selected links to essays, articles and book reviews on an extremely broad range of topics. When the site was barely three months old, the Guardian/Observer named Arts & Letters Daily the best website in the world. The site, now owned by the Chronicle of Higher Education in Washington, receives 3.7 million page views a month.

Professor Dutton, who received his PhD in philosophy from the University of California Santa Barbara in 1975, has been on staff at the University of Canterbury since 1984. He has been Professor of Philosophy at UC since 2009.

This week’s ceremonies follow a graduation ceremony held at the Rotorua Convention Centre on 9 December for 99 College of Education students based in the North Island.

Graduates will be addressed by Canterbury Museum Director Anthony Wright on Wednesday morning, UC alumna and former MP Ruth Richardson on Wednesday afternoon and Christchurch Boys’ High School Principal and University Council member Trevor McIntyre on Friday morning.

The first graduation ceremony will start at 10am on Wednesday with students from Humanities, Social Sciences and Science receiving their degrees and diplomas. At 2pm that afternoon it will be the turn of graduands from Law, Commerce, Engineering and Forestry, Continuing & Bridging Education (Adult Teaching & Learning) and Creative Arts to walk across the stage. On Friday morning students from Education will receive their degrees and diplomas.

Graduands will process through central Christchurch prior to each graduation ceremony. The University mace will be carried by Russell Wordsworth (Management), Esquire Bedel for the Wednesday processions, and Stephen Hickson (Economics and Finance) will be Esquire Bedel on Friday.

The procession will leave from the Christchurch Art Gallery at 9.25am and 1.25pm on Wednesday and 9.25am on Friday, weather permitting.


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