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Danielle Hanson ’22

2021 SOAR Profile

From Buddhism to Kierkegaard: How Philosophy Can Help Us Cope with Anxiety

Major and Minor: Philosophy major and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies minor
Hometown: Bethlehem, PA
Project Advisor(s): Carol Moeller

Briefly describe your project.

My project takes a look at anxiety and how philosophy can be used as a tool to cope with both daily anxiety, and anxiety disorders. My research focuses on defining anxiety, and insight from Buddhism, Late Stoicism, and Kierkegaard’s Existentialism.


Danielle Hanson ’22

Describe the origin of your project. (E.g., did you pitch the idea and choose a faculty member, or did they come to you with an idea?)

I’ve been thinking about this project ever since I started studying philosophy. Because philosophy has helped me with my own anxiety, I was interested in researching the idea further. I was surprised to find there aren’t many comprehensive resources on anxiety and philosophy, so I decided to make one myself.

What’s the best part about working with your faculty mentor? What valuable insights have they brought to your project?

The best part of working with Dr. Moeller this summer was just being supported to do a project that I’m passionate about. Having someone to discuss my research with helped me gain a better understanding of my topics, and she was there for me if I got off track.

What has been your biggest obstacle so far?

I was surprised by the amount of excellent material available on my subjects. I was initially going to do research on feminist philosophy as well, but I decided to leave it out in order to make sure I covered all the material I could find for my other topics and make sure my research is as comprehensive as possible. This was a difficult decision because I know that feminist philosophy has a lot of valuable insight for combatting anxiety, but I am continuing my research with an Honors Project, so I will be able to focus on it then.

What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

Taking on a huge project like this really confirmed my love for the field of philosophy and solidified that this is what I want to do with the rest of my life.

What was the result of your project?

My results are difficult to explain in brief, but I found that different areas of philosophy are not only helpful in combating anxiety, but a lot of modern approaches to dealing with anxiety (i.e., cognitive behavioral therapy) have roots in philosophy.

In your own words, how do you feel about being awarded this opportunity? Why should other students take advantage of the SOAR program at Moravian University?

I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity. It gave me the chance to work on a topic I’m passionate about, and I got to strengthen my skills. I can already tell that this summer made me both a better writer and a better reader, which are very important for philosophy. I am doing better in my classes because of this! In addition, it was a great experience to see other students work on their projects; I feel like I now have a better appreciation for other fields of study.

Now that SOAR is over, do you plan to expand upon your research? If so, how?

Yes! I am currently working on an Honors Project where I will expand my research to include additional areas of philosophy.

Have you, or do you plan to present this research outside the SOAR presentations? If so, where? Be specific, if possible.

I have not had the opportunity to present outside of SOAR yet, but I will be presenting my research at Moravian’s Philosophy Conference this spring.

Are there any aspects of the program (e.g., professional opportunities) that you participated in that you really liked and would want to see continued?

The career workshop was informative and helpful for me. I would recommend all SOAR participants to attend the series to learn how to connect their research to their future careers.