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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics


Noelle Lopez

Noelle Lopez

Noelle Lopez '09

Philosophy Professor at Boston College

When Noelle Lopez ’09 was a Hackworth Fellow at the Ethics Center, she set out to better understand what people meant when they used the term “social justice.”

Following a Jean Donovan Fellowship-sponsored summer in Watsonville, California, in which Lopez harvested crops and worked on food system reform with a local non-profit, Lopez had many questions about how to do meaningful social justice work and wanted to clarify what the term really meant. For her Hackworth Fellowship, Lopez created a reflection tool, the purpose of which was to generate awareness around different kinds of justice. The tool—a handout with a series of questions —was meant to help users focus on their experiences.  It has since been distributed to other students making immersion trips through Santa Clara University’s Ignatian Center.

Lopez has also been interested in how social justice relates to love. She wrote her Ph.D. dissertation on Plato’s philosophy of love, and as she now teaches Philosophy of the Person at Boston College, she continues to evolve her own understanding of justice, love, contemplation, creativity, and activism.

Since she graduated from Santa Clara, the themes of ethics and social justice have endured in her work. She works as a Learning Lab Fellow at Harvard’s Teaching and Learning Center, primarily working with faculty and institutional collaborators on renovating the general education program so that it is more in line with the University’s educational mission – to prepare students to engage civically and ethically in a changing world.

Reflection has also remained a central focus of her life. “I recently spent a month in silence at a South African meditation center,” she says. “That time and space for quiet contemplation helped me expand my understanding of justice and love, and reiterated for me the importance of reflection."

After graduating from Santa Clara University, Lopez received a Rhodes Scholarship and earned her master’s in philosophy at the University of Oxford in England. Opting to remain at Oxford for additional studies, she earned her doctorate in philosophy in 2014. She then completed postdoctoral work at Harvard University.