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“If social kinds and categories are constituted by social attitudes,” says Abigail Klassen, PhD candidate in Philosophy, “we might just be shackled to a new form of tyranny – that of others’ opinions.”

It’s that kind of thinking that’s earned Klassen York University’s very first Graduate Fellowship of

Distinction in Philosophy – an award generously funded by a $1-million donation from the Hal Jackman Foundation.  With it, Klassen recently attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a visiting student exploring the social construction of categories such as gender and race.

“I’m very grateful for the fellowship. It has given me opportunities I would not otherwise have been able to undertake,” Klassen says.

In addition, the Philosophy Graduate Awards Endowment established by the Jackman Foundation provided support to Klassen as she spoke at conferences around the world and acted as a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.

Abigail Klassen has learned to ask a lot of questions, and to question the questions. Donors like the Jackman Foundation are helping York support the big thinkers of tomorrow.

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