Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies
Terrace Hall 127
One Brennan Circle
Poultney, VT 05764-1199
802-287-8286; Fax: 802-287-8080
The principal social role of philosophy (literally "friendship with wisdom") is to interpret, critique, and redirect the beliefs, values, and prejudices of one's time and place. It is a privilege and delight to join students in such reflections in the context of Green Mountain College's lively environmental mission.
Vermont poet David Budbill captures something of my affection for this state: "There is solitude and quiet, a kind of modesty in the landscape, an unassuming grandeur." I love the intensity of Vermont's seasons. I am a cross-country skier in winter; a gardener, hiker, and canoer in summer; a 'leaf-peeper' in autumn; and a doting dad year-round.
Dr. Steven Fesmire's primary interests include ethics (especially environmental and animal ethics), the history of American philosophy (including Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William James, and John Dewey), social and political philosophy, and philosophical psychology (especially theories of imagination and metaphor). In his book, John Dewey and Moral Imagination: Pragmatism in Ethics (Indiana University Press, 2003), he sheds light on the imaginative process, aesthetic perception, human emotional make-up and expression, the nature of moral judgment, and the relationship between humans and their natural and social environments. The book takes a distinctly pragmatic approach to ethics, aesthetics, politics, moral education, and moral conduct. Highlights of the book include an extended analysis of jazz improvisation as a metaphor for social intelligence.
In addition to an interdisciplinary background in Environmental Studies, my disciplinary specializations include the American philosophical tradition, ethics, and philosophical psychology, including work on metaphor and imagination. My book John Dewey and Moral Imagination: Pragmatism in Ethics focused on developing a philosophical psychology of wise moral deliberation. In that book I developed the metaphor of morality as art and the idea of "democratic imagination" in a way that, I hope, highlighted underappreciated dimensions of our interpersonal interactions. In my current research I am focusing on the wider sphere of human interactions with complex natural systems. The concept of "ecological imagination" is at the center of this research. As part of this project, I was a Fulbright Scholar at Kyoto University in Japan during spring and summer 2009, where I taught classes and pursued a cross-cultural study of ecological imagination through the lenses of the “Kyoto School” of modern Japanese Philosophy (e.g., Nishida Kitaro) and American pragmatism (e.g., William James and John Dewey).
Green Mountain College, Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies, 2012-present
Kyoto University, Fulbright Professor, March 2009-August 2009
Kobe University, Fulbright Professor, March 2009-August 2009
Green Mountain College, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies, 2004-2012
Siena College, Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy, 2000-2002
Dartmouth College, Visiting Scholar in Philosophy, 1999-2000
East Tennessee State University, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, 1995-1999
Areas of Specialization
Classical American Philosophy (especially Pragmatism); Ethics (theoretical and applied, including Environmental Ethics and Animal Ethics); Social and Political Philosophy; Philosophical Psychology (especially theories of language and metaphor); Environmental Philosophy
Selected Areas of Teaching Competence
Philosophies of Nature; 16th-18th Century European Philosophy;
Ancient Greek Philosophy; Aesthetics; Logic; Philosophy of Science; Business Ethics; Philosophy of Education; Philosophy and Literature
Postgraduate: Summer Institute in American Philosophy, Burlington, VT: July 1998-July 2002, July 2004
Ph.D., 1994, Philosophy, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
M.A., 1992, Philosophy, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
B.A., 1990, Philosophy, Millsaps College, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa
Selected Teaching Experience
Kyoto University, April 2009-August 2009, Fulbright Professor
Environmental Ethics; Ningen [human being] and Kankyō [environment] in the Philosophies of William James and John Dewey
Kobe University, April 2009-August 2009, Fulbright Professor
Agency and Environment in American Pragmatism and Japanese Philosophy (co-taught with Kazashi Nobuo)
Green Mountain College, 2002-present, Professor
Animal Ethics; Environmental Ethics (every two years); Philosophy of Science (every two years); Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov (1 credit, team-taught); Topics in Social & Political Philosophy; Environmental Philosophy; Business Ethics; Topics in Ancient Philosophy (every three years); Topics in Modern Philosophy; Topics in 19th-21st Century Philosophy; Dewey's Aesthetics; "Luck, Freedom, & Goodness" (1 credit); Independent Studies (1-2 per term); frequent internship advising, teaching practicums, and student research assistantships
Siena College, 2000-2002, Visiting Assistant Professor
American Philosophy; Environmental Ethics; Introduction to Philosophy (frequent); Ethics; Philosophy of Nature
East Tennessee State University, Fall 1995-Fall 1999, Assistant Professor
Ethical Theory; History of Modern Philosophy (frequent); Humanist Philosophy; "Philosophy as Conversation"; First-Year Honors Philosophy; Critical Thinking/Logic (frequent); Philosophy of Language; American Philosophy; Introduction to Ethics; Undergraduate Philosophy Forum
Selected Green Mountain College Service
Philosophy Program Director, 2011-Present
Chair of the Faculty, 2006-2008
Vice Chair of the Faculty, 2005-2006
NEASC Accreditation Steering Committee, 10 year review, Spring 2004-Fall 2005
NEASC Accreditation Subcommittee on Physical and Financial Resources, Co-Chair, Spring 2004-Fall 2005
M.S. in Environmental Studies Committee, Spring 2005-Present
Progressive Program Task Force, Fall 2003 to present
Exploratory group for GMC Asian Studies Minor, Spring 2004-Spring 2006
International Programs Committee, 2002-present
Environmental Studies Committee, 2002-present (Chair, 2003-2008)
Academic Council, Fall 2003-2008
Search Committees, most years since 2002
Review Teams, most years since 2002
Pre-Law Advisory Committee, Fall 2003-present
Solarfest Renewable Energy Festival Board of Trustees, 2003-2008
John Dewey and Moral Imagination: Pragmatism in Ethics (Indiana University Press, September 2003)(awarded Choice "Outstanding Academic Title, 2005"), Also in Chinese translation with Peking University Press, American Philosophy Series, Roger Ames & Larry Hickman, co-editors, trans. Xu Peng (2009)
Dewey, a volume in the Routledge Philosophers book series (Routledge Press, in preparation)
“Ecological Imagination in Moral Education, East and West.” Contemporary Pragmatism, Vol. 9, No. 1 (June 2012), 205-222.
“Not Alone on the Third Plateau: Animals in American Pragmatism.” The Pluralist. Vol. 6, no. 3 (2011).
“Ecological Imagination in American Pragmatism and the Kyoto School,” Annales Philosophici 2 (Summer 2011, 20-34) (Romanian Journal of Philosophy)
“Ecological Imagination.” Environmental Ethics. Vol. 32, no. 2 (Summer 2010), 183-203.
“Ecological Imagination and Aims of Moral Education through the Kyoto School and American Pragmatism.” In Paul Standish and Naoko Saito, eds., Education and the Kyoto School of Philosophy: Pedagogy for Human Transformation (Springer, 2012).
“Ecological Imagination in Moral Education, East and West.” In Hugh McDonald, ed., Pragmatism and Environmentalism (New York and Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2012).
“Ecological Imagination, East and West,” Dialogue Transculturel 27, 169-180 (2011) (Chinese Translation, 2009 Dewey-Confucius conference paper)
“Immaginazione morale e etica responsabile.” École: Idee per l’educazione. Nuova serie numero 79 (Dicembre 2010).
“Environmental Pragmatism,” co-authored with William Throop, in America Goes Green: An Encyclopedia of Eco-Friendly Culture in the United States (ABC-CLIO, October 2012).
“Ecological Imagination in American Pragmatism,” in Contemporary Pragmatism, special volume on environmental ethics (forthcoming 2010).
“Environmental Liberal Arts Education in Vermont,” Kyoto University’s Human and Environmental Forum, “World Corner,” Japanese translation by Masashi Yamakawa (Fall 2009).
"Ecological Imagination in Dewey's Ethics," in a special edition of The Chinese Journal, ed. Tangiia Wang, Chinese translation by Xu Peng (2007).
"Cultivating Ecological Imagination: John Dewey and Contemporary Moral Education," Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy, special issue on Contemporary Issues in Philosophical Ethics, Vol. 9, no. 2 (Fall 2005)
"Our Place in the Cosmos: Faith and Belief in Contact," co-authored with Heather Keith, in Movies and the Meaning of Life (Open Court Press, April 2005).
"Dewey and Animal Ethics," in Animal Pragmatism: Rethinking Human Nonhuman Relationships, edited Erin McKenna & Andrew Light (Indiana University Press, 2004).
"Ecological Humanism: A Moral Image for Our Emotive Culture," in Moral Soundings: The Crisis of Values in Contemporary Life, edited by Dwight Furrow (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004); reprinted from The Humanist 61, no. 1 (January/February 2001).
"Philosophy Disrobed: Lakoff and Johnson's Call for Empirically Responsible Philosophy," in The Journal of Speculative Philosophy 14, no. 4 (2000/2001).
"Morality As Art: Dewey, Metaphor, and Moral Imagination," Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 35, no. 3 (1999).
"A `Primer' in Conceptual Metaphor for Counselors," co-authored, Journal of Counseling and Development 77, no. 4 (1999).
"The Art of Moral Imagination," in Dewey Reconfigured: Essays on Deweyan Pragmatism, edited by Casey Haskins and David Seiple (SUNY Press, 1999).
"Remaking the Modern Mind: William James's Reconstruction of Rationality," Southwest Philosophy Review 14, no. 2 (1998).
"The Social Basis of Character: An Ecological Humanist Approach," in Ethics in Practice, edited by Hugh Lafollette (Blackwell Press, 1997).
"Dramatic Rehearsal and The Moral Artist: A Deweyan Theory of Moral Understanding," Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 31, no. 3 (1995).
"Educating the Moral Artist: Dramatic Rehearsal in Moral Education," in Education and The New Scholarship on Dewey, edited by Jim Garrison (Kluwer Press, 1995); reprinted from Studies in Philosophy and Education 13, nos. 3-4 (1994/95).
"What Is 'Cognitive' About Cognitive Linguistics?" Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 9, no. 2 (1994).
"Aerating the Mind: The Metaphor of Mental Functioning As Bodily Functioning," Metaphor and Symbolic Activity 9, no. 1 (1994).
"Embodied Reason," Kinesis 20, no. 1 (1993).
Encyclopedia Articles, Book Reviews and Dictionary Entries
"Joseph Alenxander Leighton," in The Biographical Encyclopedia of British Idealism, William Sweet, ed. (Thoemmes/Continuum Press, Forthcoming 2007)(with Heather Keith)
"Valuation" and "Dramatism," in The Encyclopedia of American Philosophy (Routledge, 2006)
Five articles, co-authored with Heather Keith, Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers (Thoemmes Press, 2005).
Review of Eugene Taylor and Robert Wozniak, eds., Pure Experience: The Response to William James, in Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 34, no. 1 (1998).
Review Article of James Gouinlock, Rediscovering the Moral Life, in The Journal of Value Inquiry 32 (1998).
Review Article of Giovanna Borradori, The American Philosopher, in Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy Newsletter, Summer 1994.
Review of Giovanna Borradori, The American Philosopher, in Kinesis 20, no. 2 (1994).
Select Local/Regional Publications
“An Ethos of Responsibility,” Rutland Herald Op-Ed Commentary, November 7, 2012.
"Did Changing Climate Cause Warm Winter?" co-authored with John Van Hoesen, Rutland Herald Op-Ed Commentary, March 29, 2006
"Competing Systems of Moral Values," Rutland Herald Op-Ed Commentary, November 10, 2004
Ecological Imagination (book manuscript in process)
Selected works available on-line
(Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader. Free Download.)
Conduct and Jazz
Selected Paper Presentations at Professional Conferences
"Ecological Imagination in Moral Education, East and West,” Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, Spokane, Washington, March 10-12, 2011
“Ecological Imagination in Moral Education,” Plenary Speaker, Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (PESGB), New College, Oxford University, UK, March/April 2012.
“Animals in American Pragmatism,” Coss Dialogues panelist, Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, Spokane, Washington, March 10-12, 2011 (with invited psychologist Roger Fouts, director of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute at Central Washington University)
“Ecological Imagination in Moral Education” presented an invited plenary presentation at Oxford University for the spring 2012 meeting of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain.
“Ecological Imagination,” Beijing University of Foreign Studies, China, to be presented December 2009 as part of “Dewey’s Second Mission: A Dialogue between Deweyan Pragmatism and Confucianism”
“Psychology of Ecological Imagination: A Case Study of Environmental Education at Green Mountain College,” Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University, July 2009
“Ecological Imagination: American Pragmatist Resources for East-West Dialogue on Healing and the Arts,” Sogang University Conference on Spirituality, Healing, and the Arts, Sokcho, South Korea, June 2009
“Ecological Imagination and the Power of Metaphors,” Kobe University, Faculty of Letters, April 2009
"Ecological Imagination in the Kyoto School of Philosophy and Classical American Pragmatism: Citizenship Education in Japan and the U.S.," International Network of Philosophers of Education (INPE), Kyoto University, August 9-12, 2008
Commentaries on papers in environmental ethics, Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, Michigan State University, March 2008
"Jonathan Edwards and Ecological Imagination," Jonathan Edwards and the Environment, Northampton, MA, October 2007
"Ecological Imagination: American and Asian Philosophies of Nature," New York Pragmatist Forum, Fordham University-Lincoln Center, May 18, 2007 (Heather Keith, co-presenter)
"Ecological Imagination in Moral Education," Society for Human Ecology, Bar Harbor, ME, October 2006
Commentaries on papers in bioethics and environmental ethics, Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, San Antonio, TX, March 2006
"Ecological Imagination in Dewey's Ethics," Sino-American Conference: 2005 International Symposium on the Contemporary Significance of Dewey's Thought, Fudan University, Shanghai, China, May 23-26, 2005.
"Pragmatist Ethics: Theory and Practice." Seminar Leader and Presenter (Two days), Summer Institute in American Philosophy, University of Oregon, July 2004.
"Imagination and Human Flourishing: Cognitive Science, Metaphor, and Ethical Deliberation." Society for Empirical Ethics, Marlboro College, November 2003.
"Introduction: Environmental Pragmatism at Work." Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, University of Colorado at Denver (plenary session, with William Throop and Paul Thompson), March 2003.
"Contemporary Theories of Imagination." American Philosophical Association-Eastern Division, Society for Philosophy of Creativity, December 2002.
"Pragmatism and Animal Ethics." Penn State University, Conference Commemorating the Fiftieth Anniversary of John Dewey's Death, October 2002.
"Dewey and Animals: Pragmatism, or Paleopragmatism?" Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, University of Southern Maine, March 2002.
"Justice in a Time of Crisis: The Response of American Philosophy." American Catholic Philosophical Association, American philosophy group meeting, Albany, NY, November 2001.
"Imagination in Pragmatist Ethics." Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, Las Vegas, NV, March 2001, winner of Mellow Prize for "Best Paper Advancing American Philosophy."
"Beyond Consuming Desires: On Bill McKibben's Environmental Ethic," Coss Dialogues panelist with Bill McKibben, Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, Las Vegas, March 2001.
"John Dewey and the Renascence of Moral Imagination." Northern New England Philosophical Association, University of New Hampshire, October 2000.
"Imagination and Pragmatist Ethics." American Philosophical Association, Central Division meeting, Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, April 2000.
"Ecological Humanism: A Moral Image for Our Emotive Culture." Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, University of Oregon, February 1999.
"Dewey's Ethics: A Response to Critics." Symposium on John Dewey. North/South Carolina Philosophical Association, Columbia, SC, February 1998.
"The Metaphor of Morality As Art." Tennessee Philosophical Association, Nashville, TN, Vanderbilt University, November 1997.
"Aesthetics and Everyday Life." Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, Albuquerque, NM, March 1997 (commentary).
"William James's Critique of Objectivist Rationality." Intermountain Philosophy Conference, Western Carolina University, October 1996.
"Morality As Art." Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, Bentley College, Boston, MA, March 1995.
"Dewey and The Moral Artist." Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, Rice University, Houston, TX, March 1994.
"Dewey's Theory of Deliberation as Dramatic Rehearsal." Mid-South Philosophy Conference, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, February 1994.
"Embodied Reason." Joint Presentation with Mark Johnson. Philosophical Collaborations Conference, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL, March 1993.
"John Dewey's Dramatic Rehearsal and the Moral Thinker As Artist." Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, March 1993.
"James's Reconstruction of Rationality." Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH, March 1992.
"Aerating the Mind: The Metaphor of Mental Functioning As Bodily Functioning." Washington University National Graduate Philosophy Conference, St. Louis, MO, October 1991.
"Reasonableness." Mississippi Philosophical Association, Millsaps College, Jackson, MS, April 1990.
Selected Invited Presentations
“Sustainability Philosophy: Why Ecological Imagination Now?” Solarfest, Thriving Locally Tent, July 21, 2012
“A Fulbrighter in Japan: Ecological Imagination and Moral Education in the Kyoto School of Philosophy,” Green Mountain College (GMC), Faculty Colloquium, April 2010
"Inspiration and Ecological Imagination," Keynote address, Unity College's Inspired Speaker Series, Unity, ME, January 2007
GMC Faculty Colloquium, April 2007, "Experiences at Terra Madre" (on the Slow Food Movement) (with Philip Ackerman-Leist and Heather Keith)
"Sustainable Dining at a Liberal Arts College," Terra Madre: International Gathering of Food Communities, Turin, Italy, October 2006 (with Philip Ackerman-Leist, Heather Keith, and Julie Alpers)
Presentation and panel discussion on campus sustainability, Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH, May 23, 2006 (with Heather Keith and Jesse Pyles)
GMC Faculty Colloquium, November 2006, "Experiences in China" (with Mark Dailey, Gordon Knight, Tom Williams, and Heather Keith)
"Ecological Imagination in Moral Education," Kyoto University, Japan, Graduate School of Education, November 2005
"Conservation: Preserving Our Living Landscape," invited panelist for the National Association of Conservation District's 2004 Northeast Regional Meeting, Burlington, VT, August 2004
"How Metaphors Kick Your Writing Around the Block," Horace Greeley Writer's Symposium, Green Mountain College (GMC), October 2004
"American Philosophy and Environmental Ethics," Kwansei Gakuin University, School for Policy Studies, Sanda, Japan, June 2004 (Heather Keith, co-presenter)
"Conservation: Preserving Our Living Landscape." Panel discussant, National Association of Conservation Districts 2004 Northeast Regional Meeting, Burlington, VT, August 2004.
"Writing as Process." Horace Greeley Writer's Group, Poultney, Vermont, January 2004.
"John Dewey and Moral Imagination." GMC faculty colloquium, October 2003.
"Redirecting American Culture." GMC, philosophy mini-conference, October 2003.
"Got Reason? Animals and Ethics." GMC faculty colloquium, February 2003.
"Pragmatist Animal Ethics." Siena College, Philosophy Colloquium, April 2002.
"Independent Factors of Ethical Deliberation." Colgate University, April 2002.
"The Ethics of Animal Experimentation." Siena College, Experimental Psychology forum, April 2001.
"Improvisational Moral Intelligence: Lessons of Jazz." Bennington College, March 2001.
"The Renascence of Moral Imagination in Contemporary Ethics," Skidmore College, February 2001.
"Dewey's Social-Political Philosophy." Siena College, Honors Ethics forum, November 2000.
"Moral Imagination and Pragmatist Ethics." Siena College, Philosophy Colloquium, November 2000.
Interviews (with Andrew Light) on WETS-FM, Johnson City, TN, "Environmental News," Dec. 1998.
Institute for Continued Studies, East Tennessee State University, "How Metaphors Shape Our Lives" and "What is Secular Humanism?" October and November, 1998.
Departmental Philosophy Forum, ETSU, April and September 1996.
Interview on WETS-FM's "Ideas and Issues," Johnson City, TN, May 1996.
"A Functional Definition of 'Families'." Lambda Society Forum, ETSU, April 1996.
"The Art of Deliberation." Fordham University, February 1996.
"The Moral Artist." University of Oregon, January 1995.
"Philosophical Perspectives on Metaphor in Family Counseling." Joint presentation to the Educational Psychology Forum, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, November 1994.
"Metaphor, Literature, and the Body." Faculty-Student Forum, Lambuth University, October 1994.
Agora Graduate Philosophy Forum, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, three presentations, 1991-93.
Selected Honors, Awards, and Recognitions
Plenary speaker, Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain, Oxford University, March/April 2012
Fulbright Scholar grantee, Japan, Kyoto University and Kobe University, March 2009-August 2009
2005 Choice magazine "Outstanding Academic Title" award for John Dewey and Moral Imagination (Choice, January 2005)
Executive Committee, Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, 2002-2005
Ila and John Mellow Prize ("best paper advancing American Philosophy"), Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy annual meeting, Las Vegas, 2001
Presidential Grant, East Tennessee State University, 1998
Dissertation Research Fellowship, 1993-94, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Doctoral Fellowship, 1992-93, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Honorable mention for Douglas Greenlee Prize, Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, 1992
Second place, Mississippi Philosophical Association Essay Contest, "Reasonableness," 1990
Ford Foundation Fellowship, Millsaps College, 1989-90
Phi Beta Kappa
Selected Recent Professional Experience
Reviewer for Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, 1999-present
Reviewer for The Pluralist, 2011-present
Reviewer for The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 2006-2010
Reviewer for Metaphor and Symbolic Activity and Metaphor and Symbol 1994-2002
Book Manuscript Reviewer (multiple publishers, most years)
Recent Membership and Offices in Professional Associations
Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, Executive Committee (2002-2005), Program Committee (2002-2004)
American Philosophical Association
National and Regional Professional Conferences Organized
Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, Program Committee, Birmingham-Southern University, AL, March 2004
Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy, Program Committee, University of Colorado at Denver, March 2003
Tennessee Philosophical Association, Program Chair, Vanderbilt University, November 1998
Intermountain Philosophy Conference, Program Chair, ETSU, October 1997
Organizational Committee, SEP Philosophy Conference, ETSU, October 1996