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Jennifer Welchman, PhD, Johns Hopkins University

Professor

Arts

Philosophy

About Me

After completing a PhD at the Johns Hopkins University, I taught at Colgate University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, before coming to the University of Alberta in 1998.

Recent Grants/Awards:

  • 2015 Kule Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Alberta, Dialogue Grant
  • 2015 Research Fellowship, Centre de recherche en éthique, Montreal
  • 2010/14 Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council, Standard Research Grant,
  • 2008/9 McCalla Research Professorship, University of Alberta

Recent Administrative Service at the University of Alberta:

  • 2015-16 Acting-Director, Science, Technology, & Society Program, University of Alberta & Acting-Director (Arts), Environmental Studies BA Program
  • 2013-2014 Chair, Governing Committee, Environmental Studies BA Program
  • 2012-2013 Interim Chair, Department of Philosophy
  • 2008-2012 Associate Chair (Undergraduate Studies) and Honors Program Coordinator, Department of Philosophy


Research

My main areas of research and teaching expertise are in Ethics (Normative and Applied) and the History of Moral Philosophy (broadly construed.) My chief philosophical indulgence is Aesthetics (especially Film Aesthetics.) You can find links to some of my publications on my Academia.edu page (link to the right.)

My historical work has mainly focused on naturalist theories/theorists. After completing a dissertation on John Dewey's ethics, I have gone on to publish on the theories of classic American Pragmatists (Dewey and William James), contemporaries such as G.E. Moore and Bertrand Russell, as well as on earlier figures such as John Locke, Bernard Mandeville, and David Hume. I have also edited a collection on Virtue Ethics.

Environmental Ethics has been the focus of most of my published work in applied ethics. I am a founding director of the Canadian Society for Environmental Philosophy/Société canadienne de philosophie environnementale (CSEP/SCEP) (link to the right.) I am currently working on a book on The Ethics of Environmental Stewardship, for which I received research funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Funding Council (SSHRC.) 


Teaching

These are the courses I'll be teaching in the Fall 2018:

PHIL 280 Philosophy of Art  (M-W-F 13.00-13:50) 

  • In 1994, some Bostonians held an impromptu exhibition of engagingly bad art collected from local streets and thrift shops. This was the basis for the Museum of Bad Art [MOBA], dedicated to collecting and exhibiting “Art too Bad to be Ignored.” Like any museum, MOBA has rigorous standards. MOBA does not accept paint-by-number pictures, commercial art produced for tourists, or anything it considers deliberately created “kitsch.” In so doing, MOBA’s activities invite a host of questions: what makes bad art bad? Is bad art actually art at all? What’s wrong with “kitsch”? And what entitles one to judge a work of art ‘bad’?  Please note:  Though we will discuss some exemplary art works, for our purposes, bad and borderline art are just as interesting and important. So you should expect to be seeing, reading, and hearing examples of really poor and sometimes questionable ‘art.
PHIL 450/550 Topics in Ethics & Moral Philosophy: De-Extinction and Zombie Species (W 14:00-16:50) 
  • Should we try to promote biodiversity by recreating lost species and/or genetically enhancing nearly- extinct “zombie species” to save them from extinction? Pilot projects using new technologies are already underway and the Int’l Union for the Conservation of Nature has created guidelines for reintroducing recreated species into the wild. But it is possible to recreate an extinct ‘species’? Do we owe to some species to try to bring them back? Do we help or harm a zombie species if we use genetic manipulation to rescue it? Would it ever be ethically justifiable to release a genetically reconstructed species into the wild? We will consider these and related questions as we attempt to assess the ethical issues surrounding de-extinction and the genetic rescue of zombie species.

Past UndergraduateTeaching:

I regularly teach courses in Ethics, Environmental Ethics, the History of Ethics, and Philosophy of Art. I have recently begun to offer a course on Film and Philosophy.

Past Graduate Seminars

Other recent topics have included: 

  • Inter-Generational Ethics 
  • Virtue Ethics and the Environment  
  • Contemporary Consequentialism and its Critics
  • Twentieth Century Ethics
  • Early Modern Ethics