Ph.D. and M.A., Northwestern University (1986, 1984); and B.A., Gustavus Adolphus College (1982).
Tell us about life before Gustavus
I grew up in northern Wisconsin, went to Gustavus, went right on to graduate school (for which my Gustavus B.A. had prepared me well), and then taught at Carleton for two years before returning to Gustavus.
What are your professional/research interests and significant professional projects or accomplishments?
I have published one book, co-edited three others, and have also published a variety of articles. My philosophical interests include American philosophy (particularly the work of John Dewey and Jane Addams), feminist philosophy, race theory, and philosophy of food (an area in which I am one of the “pioneers”).
What do you learn from teaching students?
As a result of teaching, I’ve become very interested in issues in the philosophy of education, and as a result I have been doing some writing in this area of late. From students, I continually learn what it means to learn philosophical ways of thinking; what does it mean to think critically? How is philosophical thinking different from other forms of critical thinking? Why is this useful for living one’s life? Because students are not satisfied with easy answers to these questions, I am continually challenged to think about new ways to explain and justify the study of philosophy. Students also regularly provide me with unusual readings of a book I’ve read dozens of times before. Philosophical texts feel inexhaustible to me, and students continually provide me with new interpretations.
What do you value most about teaching at Gustavus?
I value the opportunity to teach classes that matter to me tremendously, and the freedom to do research in the philosophical topics that matter to me.
What do you value about non-classroom interaction with students?
I appreciate opportunities to work with students on committees as “colleagues” working toward a common goal. I appreciate opportunities to talk with students about their own research -- an area of philosophy about which I might know very little -- and to learn from them.
What are your hobbies?
I’m a serious baker -- breads especially. I kayak and hike in the summers. I read murder mysteries when no one is looking.
Describe a community service project you've worked on with students or about your own community service or community involvement (on campus or in the larger community).
I was one of the cofounders of the St. Peter Community Garden, a project that brought together various communities within St. Peter to garden together. The garden is in about its sixth year and is going strong. I’ve volunteered alongside my students teaching English as a learned language to Somali immigrants in St. Peter. Students in my School and Society course work in the community each semester as part of their coursework; their experiences, and their analysis of them, become part of the fabric of our course.
What is your favorite Gustavus tradition or one aspect of the community that you like to highlight when describing Gustavus to others?
Graduation. I like the opportunity to give our students their diplomas and to wish them well on the next leg of the journey. I also love the Safe Zone training sponsored each year by the campus group Queers and Allies. It’s a wonderful night of energetic exploration of the question “what does it mean to be an ally to GLBT persons at Gustavus?”