Student journalist awarded Rhodes Scholarship
By Eric Quiñones
Princeton NJ -- Princeton senior David Robinson, a philosophy major who plans to pursue a career in journalism, has been awarded a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, which provides funding for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England.
Robinson, who is from Potomac, Md., is an opinion editor at The Daily Princetonian student newspaper and has spent two summers as an intern with Time magazine. He will study moral philosophy at Oxford.
"I've had such an amazing outpouring of warmth from people on campus, especially from my classmates," Robinson said of being named a Rhodes Scholar. "It's a tremendous experience."
Robinson believes his philosophy studies will support his journalism career by providing a foundation for understanding and explaining opposing viewpoints on controversial issues. Activists debating issues such as the war in Iraq, control of the judiciary, the death penalty and abortion often are operating from the same sets of facts, he noted.
"What really divides them is how they interpret those facts, how they understand the world and their philosophical outlook. As a journalist, what I hope to do -- and what I think the good journalism that I have read does -- is take those facts and explain the philosophy that creates the disagreement," Robinson said.
"It is clear that the interviewers recognized in David Robinson both the thinker and the doer, an undergraduate philosopher who will, I predict, one day occupy a prominent public role in American journalism," said John Fleming, the Louis Fairchild '24 Professor of English and Comparative Literature and also a Rhodes Scholar.
In his current role with the Princetonian, Robinson helped revive the newspaper's policy of publishing unsigned staff editorials on important events and issues, such as affirmative action and high-level University appointments. "It is absolutely essential for the newspaper to have an institutional voice," he said.
"What struck me as most remarkable about David, and what seems to me rarer than impressive intelligence, is the way he cares, seriously and passionately, about what the theories we study can tell us about how we should lead our lives, and how we should conduct our public affairs," said Hendrik Lorenz, an assistant professor of philosophy.
Robinson also has been a junior fellow with the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions in the Department of Politics and the Human Values Forum in the University Center for Human Values.
Robinson is one of 32 American students chosen as 2004 Rhodes Scholars from 963 applicants in a nationwide competition. Recipients were chosen on the basis of high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership and physical vigor. The awards were created in 1902 by British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes.