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Barry Craig

(BA'83 First Class Honours, MA'85)

Associate professor of Philosophy and academic & research vice-president at St. Thomas University

It was largely by his own thumb and some kindness that Barry Craig first found himself at Dalhousie. Dr. Craig, born in Woodstock, N.B., hadn’t given much thought to King’s or Dalhousie until an alumnus of the Department of Classics told him he should check it out, so he stuck out his thumb and hitchhiked to Halifax. Following his introduction to King’s, he decided to enroll in the Foundation Year Program.

The lectures on Dante given by Dr. Robert Crouse made Dr. Craig realize he was in the right place and was destined to study Classics. It was the first months devoted to the ancient and medieval worlds that interested him most: “As soon as we read the ancient texts in FYP, I was hooked,” he remarks. “In fact, it was the discussion of the divided line in the Republic that showed me clearly for the first time the difference between opinion and knowledge—and that completely changed the way I looked at the world.”

Following his undergraduate degree, Craig went off to complete a Master of Divinity, but Dr. Hankey convinced him to return and complete an MA in Classics. “My interests at the time were centered around the Christian philosophical tradition. Thus, courses on Augustine with Colin Starnes, Dante with Robert Crouse, and Aquinas with Wayne Hankey were my focus.” Dr. Craig would go on to take classes from James Doull, Dennis House, Hillary Armstrong and George Grant—all studies that he says became profoundly important to him later in life. Dr. Craig wrote his thesis on Boethius and Aquinas under the direction of Dr. Hankey, “and the rigor of that project developed habits of a lifetime.”

Dr. Craig, currently the academic & research vice-president at St Thomas University in New Brunswick, arrived there first to teach philosophy, and eventually ended up chairing the Philosophy Department. He credits his education in Dalhousie’s Classics Department for giving him structure at St Thomas: “We were able to re-create the curriculum of our department here to be centered around a serious and historically structure exposure to original philosophical texts, from antiquity to the contemporary period.”

Dr. Craig says that Dalhousie’s Classics Department helped him envision what a truly challenging and exciting liberal arts education could look like. “It convinced me that engagement with difficult and original sources was possible for undergraduates and could inspire students to become rigorous and critical thinkers.”