Meet the Fellows: 2017 Newcombe Fellow Sabine Tsuruda

The Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship is the nation’s largest and most prestigious award for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values. The 2017 class of Fellows includes Sabine Tsuruda, a doctoral candidate in philosophy at the University of California—Los Angeles.                                                    

My dissertation is inspired by people’s everyday working lives.  As a Los Angeles resident, I have ample time on my daily commute to observe my fellow commuters.  Most mornings, starting at around 7:00 a.m., the roads become packed with cars, buses, and bicyclists.  Some commuters are wearing business casual and attempting to work on laptops while riding the bus.  Others are wearing sturdier stuff and hauling gardening supplies in the bed of a truck.  Some people are trying to calm children in the car, catch up on the news, or simply listen to some tunes before the start of a busy day.  What often impresses me is that most of us are on the road for the same reason—we’re going to work.  The kinds of work we’ll perform are of course incredibly diverse.  We’ll restock warehouses, build spreadsheets, teach, operate, clean, and labor on our city’s many construction sites.      But for each of us, how we work will have a profound influence on how our lives go, and not just because our work may provide us with a living.  What time our shifts start and end will influence our sleeping patterns, child care needs, and whether we have time to enjoy a variety of associations outside of work.  Our coworkers might be our closest friends, but we might also feel diminished by office hierarchies.  Our workplace culture might influence our political views (or at least influence how comfortable we feel voicing them).  Our line of work might also shape our skills and abilities, social status, and even our sense of self-worth.  Our opportunities to freely pursue a variety of valuable life projects and relationships are thus vulnerable to how we work.  My dissertation accordingly develops a moral theory for how we should regulate work to ensure that working leaves ample room for a full and self-determined life.

Ms. Tsuruda’s dissertation title is Moral Agency and the Workplace. For more information on the 2017 Newcombe Fellows and to see a list of their dissertation titles, click here.


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