Teaching Democratic Thinking

The 2009-2011 seminar focused on questions about thinking and its relationship to democracy. Many colleges and universities have renewed their focus on helping students to develop the habits, skills, and knowledge to participate fully and effectively as citizens. The seminar concentrated on the intellectual foundations of these efforts to prepare students for lives as citizens by focusing on the teaching of democratic thinking. The seminar was co-sponsored by Elon University and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).

Senior Scholar

Elizabeth Minnich

Elizabeth Minnich served as the senior scholar and intellectual leader for the 2009-11 seminar. Minnich is a widely published philosopher, an esteemed teacher, and a Senior Scholar at the Association of American Colleges & Universities. Minnich has written extensively on the topic, including “Teaching Thinking: Moral and Political Considerations” (2003) and the award-winning book,Transforming Knowledge (2005).

Research Scholars (Seminar Leadership Team)

Stephen Bloch-SchulmanStephen Bloch-Schulman, an Assistant Professor of Philosophy, at Elon University, combines his interest in political philosophy with his interest in the scholarship of teaching and learning.  He has published and presented in both arenas, including at the ISSOTL conference in 2007 and at the past two international workshops of the American Association of Philosophy Teachers, for whom he is also the Chair of the Speakers and Awards committee.  Bloch-Schulman also serves as a co-facilitator for the Hannah Arendt Circle, and was the Program chair for their 2008 meeting held at Emory University.  He is currently a Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning Scholar, at Elon, and was a CASTL Institute Scholar at the 2008 CASTL Institute for Developing Scholars of Teaching and Learning. Stephen’s teaching interests include Ethical Practice, Political Philosophy, and Ancient Philosophy.

Donna EngelmannDonna Engelmann is Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Alverno College, an urban liberal arts college for women in Milwaukee, WI. She received her PhD in political philosophy and a graduate certificate in alternative dispute resolution from Marquette University. Her teaching and research are in the areas of political and social philosophy, ethics, feminist theory and pedagogy. She has consulted on teaching, assessment and institutional change with faculty and administrators in colleges and universities in the US, Canada and Great Britain. She has presented workshops on teaching and assessment at conferences of the American Philosophical Association and the American Association of Philosophy Teachers, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and most recently at the North Carolina State Assessment Conference and the Institute on College Student Values. She is a former President of the American Association of Philosophy Teachers.

Rita PougialesRita Pougiales is a Member of the Faculty at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Her academic background is in history and anthropology; her graduate work at the University of Oregon was in anthropology and the anthropology of education. She has taught in such interdisciplinary, team-taught programs as Visual Anthropology, The Ecology of Hope, Health and Human Development, Character Studies, Public Education, American West and Perspectives on Power. Her research has emphasized the deep cultural roots of individual and institutional life, and the impediments posed in teaching and learning. Her most recent project is an ethnographic inquiry, involving three small liberal arts colleges, into the conceptualization and impact of interdisciplinary studies. She has just completed a term as an academic dean at Evergreen with primary responsibilities for coordinating faculty hiring and faculty development.

John OttenhoffJohn Ottenhoff is Vice President of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM). Prior to joining ACM in 2007, John was associate provost at Alma College and a member of the English faculty. He was a 2003–04 member of the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, a sabbatical fellow at the Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College, and the founder, with Michael Roy, of Academic Commons, a web journal and community dedicated to a discussion of the uses of new technologies in liberal education. He has published widely on early modern English devotional literature, psalm translation, and digital culture.

At ACM, John works primarily with faculty and academic programs, including the FaCE project, the Committee on Minority Concerns, the Committee on the Status of Women, the ACM-Mellon Post-doctoral Fellowship program, and the ACM-Teagle Collegium on Student Learning. He is also the Program Officer for the Newberry Seminar in the Humanities.

Ed WhitfieldEd Whitfield is a long-time social activist, parent, musician, instrument-maker, mathematician, inventor, philosopher and essayist. He has written for newspapers, magazines and community groups about education and peace and justice. After leaving Cornell University where he had became the leader of the Black student organization during an intense period of struggle for Black Studies, Ed went to teach at Malcolm X Liberation University in Greensboro, NC. Following the closing of the school he remained in NC to raise a family and do labor and community organizing while working full time in manufacturing. Ed recently played a role in the establishment of the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the US based on the South African model — the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As a representative of the local taskforce and an affiliate of the Beloved Community Center he drafted the commission’s mandate and co-chaired the commission’s selection panel. A collection of his essays on the “war on terrorism” compiled from articles written and distributed locally, nationally and some internationally after the 911 attacks has been produced. Ed is working now with faculty from several Universities in the Greensboro NC area developing and teaching a course called Reclaiming Democracy.