Socrates Citation in Honor of Kerry Whiteside

Home / Commencement / Commencement Archive / Commencement 2022 / 2022 Citations And Remarks / Socrates Citation in Honor of Kerry Whiteside

Professor Kerry Whiteside is a model of scholarly inquiry, integrity and engagement whose unassuming demeanor belies the impact he has had on generations of students, faculty and staff.

Professor Whiteside, the Clair R. McCollough Professor of Government, joined the Franklin & Marshall College faculty in 1983 after receiving his Ph.D. from Princeton University. Professor Whiteside is in select company as the recipient of both the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award (1998) and the Dewey Award for Outstanding Scholarship (2009).

Professor Whiteside has published more than 40 articles and book chapters and four books. His first book, “Merleau-Ponty and the Foundation of Existential Politics,” was about the French existential philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Thanks to the kindness of the philosopher’s widow, Professor Whiteside was the first scholar to interpret Merleau-Ponty’s political writings in light of his unpublished notes from the 1940s and ’50s. Professor Whiteside’s valuable collection of Merleau-Ponty’s notes will be archived at the Communication and Rhetorical Studies program at Duquesne University.

After finishing that project, Professor Whiteside pursued a longstanding interest in environmental politics while also continuing to develop his connections to Europe. In his second book, “Divided Natures: French Contributions to Political Ecology,” he analyzed how different concepts of nature underlie French and English environmental political theories. His third book, “Precautionary Politics,” follows up on that analysis by comparing European and American approaches to risk management in matters such as regulating genetically modified crops and greenhouse gasses. His most recent book, “Vers une démocratie écologique: Le politique, le savant et le citoyen” (with Dominique Bourg) explores how the challenge of safeguarding the planet requires rethinking democracy. Fluent in both French and German, Professor Whiteside’s international profile is evidenced in his ongoing collaboration with both French and German scholars and his positions as an associate at the Institute for European Studies, an invited professor at the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques in Paris, and an invited researcher at the Centre D’études Européennes, Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques in Paris.

In the classroom, Professor Whiteside continually found ways to engage his students. Students describe his combination of humor and probing intellect that encouraged them to think critically about the world. To further his goal of extending the classroom, he developed a faculty-led study-abroad program, F&M in Paris, during which students were immersed in the culture, language and issues that propelled Professor Whiteside’s own intellectual journey.

He is unfailingly generous with his time, whether serving the institution, working with students, or helping new faculty orient and feel welcome to the College. The personal connections he forged at the College will be Professor Whiteside’s enduring legacy.