I grew up in North Carolina and live with my husband in Durham. I’m a lecturer in philosophy at Elon University where I have taught since 1994. My first book, The Ethical Practice of Critical Thinking (2008) affirms that, when we take each other’s humanity and dignity as seriously as our arguments, we improve both our reasoning and our communities of discourse. The best critical thinking prizes arguments which matter, about things which matter, with people who matter to each other. Thinking together about substantial issues reliably leads to conflict, so critical thinking generates a robust ethical practice to resolve that conflict. This book is a contribution to that practice.
After doing weekly jail ministry in Durham, NC for many years, I began teaching courses on restorative justice as applied philosophy. I think this approach to conflict resolution as moral repair can successfully supplement, and in some cases supplant, incarceration. My essay, “The Restorative Justice Movement,” appears in the 2nd edition of the 21st Century Ethical Tool Box by Anthony Weston. Most recently, I have written about the philosophical meaning of belonging. I presented a paper on the spirituality of belonging at the First Conference on Spirituality in the 21st Century” in Prague, Czech Republic (March 2011).
I have also written a text for first-year students, crafted for Elon 101 and GST110, entitledFirst to be Lost, Last to Belong: Fit for the Real World©. I am trying the text with students this year before publishing the book. The text argues that, just as researchers must simulate, by analogy, interactions in domains which they can’t directly investigate (such as how people will live on Mars, or the past behavior of species which have been extinct for eons), so students can simulate by analogy how they will belong in the “real world.” My analog consists of ten skills from exercise science: agility, accuracy, balance, coordination, strength, coordination, strength, flexibility, endurance, stamina, speed, and power. Students do three kinds of exercises: physical movement skills, mental exercises, and contemplative exercises to simulate how they’ll belong in the “real world” in their near future