Outdoor Studies & Philosophy Professor
Stretching Your Physical & Metaphysical Limits
I'm from Alaska, and while I was in graduate school at the University of Toronto I would return to Alaska for winter terms, live and ski in Girdwood, and teach a couple of philosophy classes at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Then a job in philosophy opened up at UAS. I applied, got the job, moved to Juneau, and have been here ever since.
During my second year in Juneau, the university needed a faculty member to help coordinate courses in Outdoor Studies. Because I had a lot of experience skiing, climbing, and working in the outdoor industry, I was asked to coordinate the program. The courses were very popular and after the first year a few outdoor classes were turned into a certificate program, in which students could really focus on outdoor studies.
We now offer backcountry skiing and snowboarding, ice climbing, glacier travel, mountaineering, rock climbing, sea kayaking, winter camping, and backpacking classes. The way the certificate program is set up, a third of the classes are outdoor skills classes, another third are required-academic classes, and the final third are academic electives. One goal of the program is obviously to teach skills that will allow students to succeed in the outdoors; but it is just as important to us to get students to critically consider our culture's, and their own, understanding of the relation between humans and nature.
UAS has really worked out well for me. My work with the Outdoor Studies Program has allowed me to both teach philosophy and be in the outdoors. In terms of my own research interests I've always wanted to work in philosophy of sports and philosophy of nature. My job here puts me in a perfect position to do exactly that. For example, I recently published a paper entitled "Nature and Risk in Adventure Sports." This kind of work is the product of being able to continue teaching and working outside while thinking and writing about outdoor activities. It is exciting to have such opportunities.