History student wins CSPS Student Essay Prize

What began as research for a course assignment has led a newfound interest, as well as a noteworthy achievement and a summer learning adventure for UNBC Bachelor of Arts in History student Sean Robinson.

April 21, 2023
Photo shows student wearing black shirt and plaid top standing in atrium with wood beams and a plant.
Sean Robinson will be travelling to Tunisia and Rome this summer through UNBC's Travelling Knowledges program to further pursue interests piqued by a Historiography course.

UNBC History student Sean Robinson is the national winner of the 2023 Student Essay Prize from the Canadian Society of Patristic Studies (CSPS).

“It’s an impressive achievement for an undergraduate student, especially given that we don’t offer courses in the area and Sean was really doing this as independent research,” says Dr. Jacqueline Holler, Acting History Department Chair. “We are very proud of him!”

Patristics is the study of the writings of the earliest Christian theologians. Robinson says he discovered the discipline during a Historiography course with History Professor Dr. Jonathan Swainger.

“It was Dr. Swainger’s course that really sparked my interest. I started reading St. Augustine’s work for the course and found his writings so intriguing,” says the second year student.

It was while researching patristics journals online that Robinson came across the CSPS’s Student Essay Prize for undergraduate and graduate essays.

Robinson’s award-winning essay centred on the early Christian, Ignatius of Antioch. “His letters are so interesting – he wrote them as he was being transported to Rome to be executed, giving instructions to Christian communities along the way.

“My essay focused on his letter to the Church of Rome asking the Church not to stop his execution because he wanted to be killed for his faith to become a martyr.”

Robinson has been asked to present his paper to the CSPS’s annual meeting held under the auspices of the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, hosted by York University at the end of May.

Robinson plans to attend via Zoom, as he will be in Tunisia at the time of the Congress. The Bachelor of Arts student will spend time learning Arabic in Tunisia before moving on to the Italian Institute for Classical Studies in Rome to learn Latin as part of UNBC’s Travelling Knowledges program. He credits Dr. Holler with supporting his essay submission and encouraging him to further explore his interests through Travelling Knowledges.