e-conf series
EcoRes Forum (forum@eco-res.org)

EcoRes Forum Spotlight: Karen Warren
    Professor Karen J. Warren

Philosophy Department
Macalester College
1600 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, MN, USA

Ecofeminist philosophy; Environmental philosophy and ethics

Email: warren [@] macalester [dot] edu
URL: www.macalester.edu/~warren

A self-described “street philosopher”, Karen Warren has made a name for herself as a philosophy professor extraordinaire, reaching across disciplinary lines to reach those uninitiated to the realms of the philosophical world. As Warren shares, this is
“...because I believe philosophy is relevant to people of all ages, in all cultural, geographical, and socioeconomic contexts. This commitment to the value of philosophy has led me to teach philosophy to diverse populations. For more than 33 years, I have taught philosophy to children in grades K-12, as well as elementary and secondary school teachers and administrators. (To my knowledge I initiated the second High School Philosophy Program in the U.S., in 1972.). I have also taught philosophy in the Berkshire County House of Correction (MA), environmental organizations (e.g., The Wilderness Society, Eco-Education, Pheasants Forever, Minnesota Naturalist’s Association, various 'nature centers'), civic groups (e.g., as critical thinking consultant to the Science Museum of Minnesota, facilitator of a Women's Issues Book Group at Barnes & Noble Booksellers) and in a variety of college and university settings. My commitment to 'public philosophy' has also motivated me to write and speak for lay audiences in what I intend to be a non-technical but philosophically engaging manner.”

Originally from New England (by way of Minnesota), the professor has lived and worked in both the northern and southern hemispheres, experiencing a richly intercultural mosaic of life on which her personal and academic philosophical perspectives are based. On sabbatical during the 2006-2007 academic year, Warren is using this time to complete a six-year book project, Gendering the History of Western Philosophy: Pairs of Men and Women Philosophers from the 4th Century B.C.E. to the Present, with Chapter Introductions and Commentaries (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007). To her knowledge, this will be the first book in any language to include women philosophers alongside their historical male philosophical contemporaries in 2600 years of the history of Western Philosophy.

Warren shares a defining moment in her life: “One of the most meaningful and philosophically informative experiences of my life occurred when I experienced the joy of swimming with a pod of about twelve wild bottlenose dolphins off the coast of Key West, Florida. It was while swimming with these magnificent, intelligent, beautiful creatures that I came to understand and appreciate the importance of 'emotional intelligence' (in concert with 'rational intelligence'), especially the moral significance of the ability to empathize and care in the ability to engage in ethical reasoning, decision-making or practice at all. It was through this interspecies experience and communication that I began to think seriously about the moral centrality of care to cross-species and cross-cultural communication, particularly ethical significance of the ability of humans to care about ourselves, others (including dolphins and other non-human animals) and what Aldo Leopold called 'the land' to the understanding and ethical resolution of contemporary environmental and social justice issues. Reflection on that experience resulted in my articulation of what I call a 'care-sensitive ethic' as a possible, necessary, and (properly understood) 'universal' ethic (and alternative to traditional normative ethical theories).”

Warren’s biography continues: “Karen J. Warren, Professor of Philosophy at Macalester College, has written extensively in the fields of ecofeminist philosophy, environmental philosophy, feminist philosophies, and critical thinking. (See: http://www.macalester.edu
.) Her work in ecofeminist philosophy helped generate a new area of philosophical, environmental and feminist scholarship on the interconnections among women, people of color, children, the poor, colonized and (other so-called) Third World peoples, on the one hand, and nonhuman animals and “nature,” on the other hand. She has written more than 40 refereed articles, single-authored Ecofeminist Philosophy: A Western Perspective on What It Is and Why It Matters (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000) and edited/co-edited six anthologies: Environmental Philosophy: From Animal Rights to Radical Ecology, 4th Edition.eds. Michael E. Zimmerman, J. Baird Callicot, Karen J. Warren, Irene J. Klaver, John Clark (Prentice-Hall, 2004); Eco-feminism: Women, Culture, Nature, (Indiana University Press, 1997); Bringing Peace Home: Women, Peace and Nature, co-edited with Duane Cady (Indiana University Press, 1996); Ecological Feminist Philosophies, (Indiana University Press, 1996); Ecological Feminism, Environmental Philosophy Series (Routledge, 1994). Her philosophical autobiography appears in Singing in the Fire: Stories of Twelve Women Philosophers (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003) and her biography is included in Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975, ed. Barbara J. Love with a foreword by Nancy F. Cott (The University of Illinois Press: 2006).”

“Warren is an internationally renowned scholar who has given more than 200 presentations in such diverse places as Buenos Aires, Gothenburg (Sweden), Helsinki, Oslo, Manitoba, Melbourne, Moscow, Perth (Western Australia), Rio de Janeiro, and San Jose (Costa Rica). She was the occupant of the Women’s Chair in Humanistic Studies at Marquette University (2004) and Ecofeminist Scholar-in-Residence at Murdoch University (Perth, WA) in 1995. She is the recipient of five teaching awards, including the First Place Gold Hugo Award in General Education from the International Video and Film Society for 'Thinking Out Loud,' a video that shows Karen teaching 1st and 4th graders, along with their teachers, how to think critically about birds of prey (raptors). Warren’s essay, 'Re-Writing the Malestream Curriculum,' was honored by the journal Feminist Teacher as one of the best 10 essays in the first 10 years of the journal’s existence. In 1972, Karen helped established the second only high school philosophy program in the United states, and, in 1991 helped found a summer enrichment program for high school students of color, MACCESS, in St. Paul, Minnesota, and from 2001-2003 served both as its Director and instructor in Critical Thinking.”

The EcoRes Forum wishes to recognize Karen
Warren’s ongoing significant contribution to the fields of ecofeminist philosophy and environmental ethics, and is proud to welcome Professor Warren to the April 2007 E-Conference Panel of Experts.