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Philosophy and Religious Studies

Stephen Puryear Named Department Head of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Stephen Puryear

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences has named Stephen Puryear head of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, effective July 1.

Currently, Puryear serves the department as interim head and a professor of philosophy. In his 16 years at the college, he has also served as associate department head and as an undergraduate advisor in the department.

“Stephen comes to the position with an impressive record of teaching, research, engagement and administrative experience,” says Deanna Dannels, dean of NC State’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “His collaborative leadership philosophy and commitment to innovation will help our college achieve our shared goals and provide impactful opportunities and creative solutions that benefit our entire community.”

A native of Wadesboro, North Carolina, Puryear joined the college’s faculty in 2008 as a teaching assistant professor, rising to assistant professor in 2013 and to associate professor in 2017 before being named to his current rank in 2023. A specialist in early modern philosophy, his research primarily focuses on metaphysics and ethics, often through engagement with the German philosophical tradition, especially Gottfried Leibniz, Immanuel Kant and Arthur Schopenhauer.

Outside the classroom, Puryear has served on various committees at the university, college and department levels. They include the university’s Committee on the Physical Environment, the college’s Undergraduate and Graduate Programs Committees, and the department’s Post-Tenure Review Committee, which he has chaired for many years.

In addition, he served as president (2019-2023) and secretary-treasurer (2017-2019) of the North Carolina Philosophical Society. He also was secretary-treasurer of the Leibniz Society of North America (2012-2016) and is now a member of its executive committee.

Puryear is working on a book on Leibniz’s idealism and has written book chapters and numerous articles for various publications. They include Philosophical Quarterly, European Journal of Political Theory, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, and Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics.

He also received the college’s Outstanding Lecturer Award in 2012, and the university’s Outstanding Teacher Award in 2020. That same year he was inducted into the NC State Academy of Outstanding Teachers.

Puryear holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh, master’s degrees in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh and Texas A&M University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from NC State. He also spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow in the humanities at Stanford University.