Faculty in Action
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Ph.D. Philosophy, The Pennsylvania State University
I am teaching: Western Heritage in a Global Context, Introduction to Philosophy, Philosophy and Film, Beyond Hollywood? American Independent Film and the Sundance Film Festival, Philosophical Logic, History of Philosophy Senior Seminar
Areas of expertise: History of Philosophy with an emphasis on 17th through 19th Century Philosophy, Environmental Philosophy, Philosophy of Film
Current research or projects: “Exemplars in Environmental Ethics,” “Filmmaking in the Philosophy Classroom: Illustrating the Examined Life,” “The Certainty of Sense Certainty in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.”
Q & A
Why did you decide to become a college professor?
I love to learn, love to read and talk and share what I learn with other people. This is a job that pays me to do what I love.
What do you enjoy most about teaching at Eckerd?
Students who are excited about learning, who are not afraid to challenge their preconceived notions.
How would you describe Eckerd students?
Eckerd College students are passionate, not always about the subject I happen to be teaching, but they always have something that they care about deeply. If you can find a way to connect that passion with your subject, they can achieve at a very high level.
What makes Eckerd so special or why does it stand out to you as a great college?
The focus on residential learning helps to build community among our students. Their learning and their lives become interconnected, which can sometimes cause problems, but more often creates some exciting opportunities because our students are not just taking classes, they are exploring ideas outside of the classroom.
What is the best thing a student has ever said in your class?
I can’t pinpoint a specific remark, but it happens regularly that students in my classes help me to see things about what we are studying that I’d never considered before.
How do you describe your teaching style?
Above all I try to find ways to engage students in the importance of ideas. I tell them that to study a philosophy text is not to learn about what old dead men and women used to think. Rather it is to find out what you cannot help but think. Everything I do in the classroom is designed to encourage students to see why our authors would have written what they did, and to help them try on each way of thinking. I get pretty excited and work hard to help students share that enthusiasm.
How do you encourage your students to ThinkOUTside?
Philosophy by its very nature encourages students to think outside of their everyday assumptions. I put great stock in the usual kinds of assignments – reading and writing and discussing – in part because I think that to take ideas seriously requires that you characterize them accurately. I also like to have students try unique kinds of assignments that they aren’t likely to have done before – blogging for my Sundance class, for example, or making films that explore the implications of ideas in my “Philosophy and Film” class.
What else should we know about you or what else would you like to share?
I am 6 foot 9. I run the International Cinema series on campus, that shows critically acclaimed and important films from around the world in 35mm prints. I am also the co-director of the “Visions of Nature/Voices of Nature,” Environmental Film Festival.