2021-22 Mellon Public Scholarship Teaching Fellows

Laney Graduate School is pleased to announce the first cohort of Mellon Interventions Public Scholarship Teaching Fellows for the 2021-22 academic year.

Cara Curtis (Religion)


Cara Curtis is a doctoral candidate in the Ethics and Society program in the Graduate Division of Religion. Her dissertation, tentatively titled “Fragmented Flourishing: Maternal Perspectives on the Good Life in an Unequal Social Landscape,” investigates maternal conceptions and practices of “flourishing” in the context of US inequality. Drawing on ethnographic research in a theological studies program for incarcerated women and in mothers’ groups at nearby affluent churches, the project argues that flourishing is “fragmented” within social inequality, but that opportunities for intervention can be found in women’s everyday lives. She has both taught and conducted participatory research in a number of community-based settings, and is committed to the idea that bridging academic and community knowledge is key to building just and equitable systems. In addition to her work in Ethics and Society, Cara is pursuing a certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and a concentration in Religious Practices and Practical Theology. She earned her BA from Haverford College, and her M.Div from Harvard Divinity School.  

Course Description

Title: REL200: Religion, Prisons, Social Justice (Religion & Contemporary Experience)

Time: Fall 2021  

Although mass incarceration has gained significant public attention in recent years, the role of religion—in both enabling modern practices of imprisonment and in fostering resistance to them—is often overlooked. This class will examine how religion is intertwined with a variety of key elements in the landscape of incarceration in the United States: the origins of contemporary prisons, racial inequity, economic exploitation, the daily lives of those inside, and movements for both abolition and reform. Going beyond cursory understandings of religion as something that is “used” by any given actor in the criminal legal system, the course will aid students in developing their own nuanced perspectives on the ways that religious faith functions in, through, and against carceral practices in the contemporary United States.

In particular, this class will accomplish these goals by learning in collaboration with local community partners who are working actively at the intersection of religion and incarceration. From activists mobilizing faith communities for state policy change to theological educators supporting the reentry process, we will learn from these partners and in turn support their work via collaborative final projects. Religion in prison is a lived phenomenon; therefore, the best way to learn about it is in conversation with those who are involved and living it. Given this, we will also privilege hearing the perspectives of those who are/have been incarcerated and those directly impacted by incarceration.

Cynthia Guo (Psychology)


Cynthia Guo is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Psychology, with a concentration in Developmental Science. She received a B.A. in Psychology from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with highest honors. Her research examines the social and cultural factors that contribute to moral decision-making, and her dissertation research investigates the motivation behind human deception from a developmental perspective. She adopts an interdisciplinary approach in her teaching, with the goal of bridging the disciplinary gap between humanities and the social sciences.


Course Description

Title:  PSYC385: Cultural Psychology

Time: Fall 2021

What is culture? How does culture influence the way we think and behave? How is culture represented, impacted, and transformed in the digital age?

This course will introduce you to the field of cultural psychology, and explore the role of cultural meanings, practices, and institutions on human psychology. We will discuss how culture emerges in human development and examine how the same psychological processes that give rise to rich cultural practices also bear negative consequences on our society, such as stereotype and prejudice. We will also explore specific topics on how human culture is transformed through digital devices and represented on social media.

Through the course, you will learn to critically examine human behaviors in the contexts of diverse cultural beliefs, to reflect on your own upbringings through a cultural lens, and to gain an appreciation for cultures other than your own.

Belén Pueyo Ibáñez (Philosophy)


Belén Pueyo-Ibáñez is a PhD candidate in the Department of Philosophy and a certificate student at the Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture. Before coming to Emory, Belén completed a BA in Music (violin performance) and a BA in Journalism, both in Barcelona; a Graduate Diploma in Contemporary Art History at Goldsmiths, University of London; and a MA in Philosophy at The New School for Social Research, where she studied under a Fulbright Grant. Her articles have appeared in Pragmatism Today, Contemporary Pragmatism, and The  Journal of Speculative Philosophy. Moreover, she has presented papers at more than 15 international conferences.

Her doctoral dissertation, Moral Inquiry Beyond Objectivism and Subjectivism: Collective Deliberation and the Sense of Community, is aimed at identifying the necessary conditions under which a process of intersubjective discourse can be practically effective as a method of moral inquiry. Her research, interdisciplinary in nature, is informed by an array of sources from different disciplines, mainly philosophy, but also psychology, sociology, and anthropology. 

Course Description

Title: On the Nature of Human Relationships

Time: Spring 2022

This course invites students to reflect on the nature of human relationships and related issues such as public deliberation, democracy, peace and conflict, tolerance, and solidarity, among others. The course will be structured around four problem areas: being with others, thinking with others, acting with others, and feeling with others. The approach to these questions will be partly theoretical and partly practical. Throughout the semester, students will read a variety of texts, mainly philosophical but also scientific, from different schools of thought from the 19th century to the present. Students will have the opportunity to develop their own ideas and thoughts about these problems on several assignments that will enable them, not only to become conversant with these issues but also to improve their comprehension abilities, analytical skills, critical thinking, and expressive competence. Lectures, class discussions, and individual and group exercises will be supplemented by a visit to an organization based in Atlanta devoted to the advancement of democracy and human rights. At the end of the semester, students will produce a series of podcasts in which they will reflect on the role and activities of this organization in connection with the theoretical questions explored throughout the semester. This course is being taught with the support of the Mellon Humanities PhD Interventions Project.