Luther sophomore Eness receives the Kuh Family 'Positively Luther' Award

Luther sophomore Maxwell Eness has received the Kuh Family "Positively Luther" Award for his contributions to the student experience at Luther College.

Eness, son of Daniel and Betsy Eness of Ames, Iowa, is a 2016 graduate of Ames High School. He plans to graduate from Luther in 2020 with majors in philosophy and environmental studies.

Established in 2015 by George D. Kuh, Luther class of 1968, of Bonita Springs, Florida; Warren R. Kuh , Luther class of 1974, of Austin, Texas; and Kristian R. Kuh, Luther class of 1997, of San Diego, California, The Kuh Family "Positively Luther" Award is given each year to a student whose character, leadership and participation in co-curricular and other educationally purposeful activities enhance the quality of campus life. As determined through an application process, one student is awarded this $5,000 award.

To apply for the award, students must submit their resume and a statement about a new or revised policy, practice or opportunity the college should consider to further enrich the student experience at Luther. The recipient must be in good academic standing with a demonstrated need for financial assistance.

At Luther, Eness assists a Luther biology professor with multidrug resistance research and works with the Modern Languages department. Actively involved in several student organizations, Eness is the president of the Philosophy Society and a member of the Model United Nations and European Union. He volunteers at and is a member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. He has also helped with the Kid's Lunch Club program in Decorah.

In his application, he stated that Luther needs to champion the process of questioning one's beliefs in a way that is truly politically and intellectually diverse. Eness cited New York University psychology professor Jonathan Haidt who has been raising awareness about how differing political beliefs have created division on college campuses. Eness further explained how the growth of confirmation bias has contributed to students becoming unable to reason with people who differ from themselves politically.

Eness asserted a need for disconfirmation of our beliefs. If people can be uncertain about their own beliefs, they will be more understanding of others who differ from them. According to Eness, this uncertainty can provide a window into the spectrum of human experience and foster new opportunities for self-examination and the pursuit of truth, noting if people don’t actively work this muscle of disconfirmation, they grow rigid in their ability to question.  

Eness' vision includes hosting a viewpoint diversity month. "To seek the truth, the ultimate goal of any good liberal arts institution, we need to listen to opinions (and facts) that challenge our own worldviews. A month devoted to this cause should feature speakers of all backgrounds who hold controversial or unpopular beliefs engaging in dialogue and workshops to teach students how to become uncertain," said Eness. He believes this effort will improve Luther's capacity to "move students beyond immediate interests and present knowledge into a larger world," as is stated in Luther's mission statement.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,050, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: http://www.luther.edu.

Maxwell Eness