Any student of Dr. Barlas, was, every day, witness to a person who without fail embodied what it means to be intellectually honest. Honest, without ever diminishing or discounting academic rigor. In an age when talk has become increasingly cheap, wherein arguments are made on statement alone, Professor Barlas remains a living example of what words should be made of. Say what you want, pose whatever point of view, risk offending whoever’s sensibilities, but you best have an argument in support of whatever it is you chose to share. I genuinely believe Dr. Barlas does not care what position you hold, so long as is it a position maintained with a foundationally sound logic.
Even now, during my medical training, a field ostensibly as far as any, these same principles hold true. Put forward whatever argument or theory you wish to entertain, but you best make certain you have a reason for suggesting as much.
The opposite holds true too. Say something foolish without an ounce of reason, and Dr. Barlas was not hesitant to tell you you were wrong. In a discipline, and era, that was reluctant to offer any pushback at all, there was something exceedingly refreshing about Dr. Barlas’ willingness to call BS.
I’m not much for math, but I did a bit here. 35 years of teaching an average of 4 classes per year. 20 students per class. Is 2,800 students. If one assumes that even half of each class incorporated but half of what Professor Barlas embodied, that is close to fifteen hundred people who continue to better the world day in and day out. Add to that, the vast array of lectures and seminars the world over, and one begins to get a sense of the sort of impact Dr. Barlas had. Had and very much continues to have.
I find these sort of letters hard to write and not much my style. Let me just say this, Dr. Barlas is a phenomenal person who demonstrated day in and day out, that no matter the cost, speaking one’s truth, and maintaining one’s integrity is of paramount importance. In an age when talk, principles, and values are often tweaked and realigned to fit whatever narrative may be in vogue, Professor Barlas remains a steadfast example of just that: remaining steadfast. I consider myself lucky to have been a student of hers and luckier still to count her amongs those I can reach out to for advice and direction.