Amy Glaser

Adjunct Instructor in Philosophy
Spence Pavilion-Religion/Phil. 116
2340 Campus Box
Elon, NC 27244 (336) 278-6491

Brief Biography

Hello! I teach philosophy courses joyfully here at Elon University and sometimes at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where I began pursuing a PhD in philosophy in 2003. Before that, I received a BA in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. As an undergraduate, I also spent time living and studying abroad in Israel and Australia. My philosophical interests center on young people and the ways they are oppressed. I believe that youth liberation holds awesome potential for social transformation. 

In addition to philosophy, I have a number of exciting projects underway. In 2004, I began working with LGBTIQSA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, straight, and anything else) teenagers. Together we founded iNSIDEoUT, a youth-run organization that networks youth and Gay-Straight Alliances.You can check us out here:

I also write and sing fun, socially-conscious kids' music that respects young people's intelligence. I released my first album in July, 2012. You can listen to it here:

I reside in Durham with my dog, Mordecai, and my loving friends and neighbors. We get together frequently to share delicious food, and play and sing music on our front porches. I also enjoy playing capoeira, running 13.1 miles, and visiting my 8 neices and nephews.


University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Ph.D., philosophy (expected 2015)

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, M.A., philosophy (2005)

                        Thesis: A Two-Dimensional Analysis of Ethical Language

                        Committee: Geoff Sayre-McCord (director), Jesse Prinz, Keith Simmons

University of Wisconsin, Madison, B.A., philosophy (2003)

                        Thesis: Where the ‘Ought’ is in the ‘Is’

                        Director: Russ Shafer-Landau

Courses Taught

Sole Instructor

How Should We Live? (Elon University) A course about living well. Addresses the challenges we confront as individuals living among others, and how to navigate these challenges with deep care for ourselves, our communities, and the larger world. Develops the skills to think clearly, consistently, and creatively about some of the most central issues in our lives, including food, sex, money, relationships, religion and more. Explores abstract philosophical ethical theories (Mill, Kant, etc.) as well as more practical writing by a variety of authors. Takes a serious and sustained look at some of the world’s deepest problems and our individual roles in sustaining or solving them. Encourages students to be thoughtful and to take ownership over their lives, their choices and their values.

What Can We Know? (Elon Unversity) Provides practical tools for better, clearer thinking. Considers longstanding epistemological questions such as: What does it take to know something? Where does knowledge come from? What are we justified in believing, and what is it for a belief to be justified? Explores traditional epistemological theories, including rationalism, empiricism and skepticism, through authors such as Hume and Descartes. Examines ethical issues related to knowledge acquisition, including whether we have a right to knowledge about some subjects, and how social structures (especially race, class and gender) influence our access to information.

Critical Thinking (Elon University) A course on thinking clearly, carefully and creatively about issues that are central to one’s role as a student, community member, consumer, citizen and person. Provides the tools to recognize, construct and evaluate arguments, and attempts to make students aware of their own biases and unconscious patterns of thinking. Inspires students to think constructively about social problems, and to be proactive and aware people and consumers.

Philosophical Issues: Gender (3x - UNC-Chapel Hill) Explores the concepts of sex and gender and their ethical implications, and the challenges that gender-variant identities pose to traditional gender categories across cultures. Examines the nature and prevalence of sexism, as well as the relation between sexism and other forms of oppression.

Reference and Meaning (UNC-Chapel Hill) An advanced examination of developments within philosophy of language, incorporating Russell, Frege, Kripke, Putnam, psychologism, the referential theory of meaning, intensional semantics, two-dimensionalism, causal theories of reference, and internalism and externalism.

Making Sense of Ourselves (2x - UNC-Chapel Hill) Aims to develop critical and creative thinking around a number of life’s central issues including, but not limited to: religion, personal identity, egoism, normative theory and applied ethics.           

Introduction to Ethics (UNC-Chapel Hill) An introduction to topics in applied and normative theory, such as vegetarianism, global and environmental responsibility, feminism, utilitarianism, subjectivism, relativism, and ancient moral theory.

Bioethics (Online - UNC-Chapel Hill) Exploration of bioethical issues such as end of life care, abortion, and cloning.

Teaching Assistant

Making Sense of Ourselves (with C.D.C. Reeve - UNC-Chapel Hill) Examines great works and contemporary theory, including Plato, Aristotle, Ayn Rand, Dostoevsky, Hume.

Introduction to Philosophy (with Ram Neta - UNC-Chapel Hill) Introduction to philosophy’s basic problems with a focus on Hume and Descartes.                                                    

Introduction to Ethics (with William Lycan - UNC-Chapel Hill) A survey of normative theories including Kant, Mill and Hume.        

Philosophy of Sport (with Jan Boxill - UNC-Chapel Hill) Studies the nature of competition, personal excellence, and ethical issues related to sports, such as sexism and doping.


I believe that youth are oppressed. By this, I mean that they face systematic, interlocking barriers that prevent them from being self-expressed and self-determined, and that these barriers are maintained by adults for the benefit of adults, at the expense of young people. I hope to demonstrate that youth are an oppressed group by extending a vast body of existing literature on oppression to explicitly address young people, and by illuminating and describing the network of barriers that constitutes their oppression. I also want to make the case that the liberation of young people is uniquely significant, given some features of this group and their power to create social change. My research in this area joins a struggle for youth liberation that gained momentum in the 1970s with groups such as Youth Liberation of Ann Arbor and writers such as John Holt and Richard Farson.

Youth are oppressed in schools and at home, and by every major institution in a world designed entirely by adults for the privilege of adults. Physical barriers (such as adult-sized toilets and countertops) make it impossible or exceedingly difficult for smaller young people to participate in society in meaningful ways. Even where changes are being made (such as the creation of “family” restrooms), these changes are for the convenience of parents. We speak about children, or at them, not with them, and our speech about them is often degrading. To say that an adult is childish is an insult, while calling a child grown-up is a form of praise. To kid around is to intend not to be taken seriously. The legal requirement to be in school for most of the day five days a week, and the inability to vote, as well as a lack of viable transportation, preclude young people’s participation in society’s decision-making processes. Young people often aren’t even involved in shaping the institutions that affect them most directly. Youth are deprived control even over their own bodies. In North Carolina, a new bill requires minors to obtain notarized parental consent before receiving some health services. I believe that many of the limitations young people face are due to inadequate social accommodation and not inherent deficiencies, in much the same way that the limitations of disability result from poor social design and not defective physiology.

Youth are conspicuously absent from the philosophical literature on oppression. Even writing on ageism tends to conflate ageism with oppression of the elderly. But because we all start out young, youth oppression impacts more people directly than any other form of oppression. This makes youth liberation extraordinarily significant. In addition, youth model many of the most important virtues for social transformation, virtues such as authenticity, flexibility, creativity, and humility. Appreciating young people and cultivating their self-confidence by providing opportunities for them to engage with the world in more meaningful and effectual ways has profound potential for making things better for everyone. 


Mary Taylor Williams Fellowship (2010, 2008, 2005, 2004)

Graham Kenan Fellowship (2009, 2008, 2005, 2004, 2003)

Beth Colton Williams Fellowship (2009, 2003)

Phi Beta Kappa (2003)


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