Katherine Kirby, PhD Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of Global Studies
M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D. Fordham University
B.A. Salisbury State University
Areas of Expertise:
Ethics (including the philosophical ethics tradition, metaethics, applied ethics), Emmanuel Levinas (French postmodern ethicist), Global Studies, Community-Engaged Learning (Working toward expertise in Critical Race Studies & Philosophy of Resistance)
Courses I Teach:
Power, Resistance, & Race
Truth & Propaganda
Otherness and Marginalization
The Art of Living, Aging, & Dying
Advanced Integrations in Global Studies
Foundations of Global Studies
Introduction to Philosophy
First-Year Seminar: Society, Identity, & Race
Preparation for International Service
A Study in Solidarity: Guyana Study Trip
Resistance, Revolution, & Representation: South Africa Study Trip
My Saint Michael’s:
I’ve become a huge proponent of service-learning courses, wherein there is practical engagement with the community that breathes a certain life into the texts we read and discuss. I find that service-learning opportunities set the stage for a close philosophical (phenomenological) exploration of our lived experiences, especially in courses that challenge students to think about ethical or moral responsibility and engagement.
Ethics (including the philosophical ethics tradition, metaethics, applied ethics, and global ethical issues); Emmanuel Levinas (French postmodern ethicist); Continental philosophy
My research interests coincide very closely with my teaching. I have been able to develop courses that tackle the very questions with which I grapple in my work, which ensures that my course material continues to be fresh and innovative. I am a huge proponent of service-learning courses, especially in courses that challenge students to think about ethical or moral responsibility and engagement, where I find that service-learning opportunities set the stage for a close philosophical (phenomenological) exploration of lived experiences.
Awards & Recognition
Norbert A. Kuntz Service Award, St. Michael’s College, 2019
MLK Society Appreciation Award, St. Michael’s College, 2017
Vermont Campus Compact Award for Excellence in Community-Based Teaching, 2011
Life Off Campus:
Outside Saint Michael’s I enjoy hikes, playing with my dog Abigail, movies, cooking, selected television shows, and spending time with friends and family.
Katie Kirby of the Saint Michael’s philosophy faculty co-hosted an international philosophy conference from July 26 through July 29,with the theme of “Solidarity and Community,” which she began organizing in early 2020 for the North American Levinas Society (NALS). She was originally organizing the event to be in-person at Saint Michael’s College in July 2020, as host for the society’s 15th annual conference. Keynote speakers, book panels, and individual paper presentations already had been selected and arranged when the COVID pandemic necessitated a change in plans. Katie suggested to her colleagues on the NALS Board of Directors that they postpone the “Solidarity and Community” conference until 2021, and instead pivot to a new theme “The Face and the Interface: Levinas, Teaching, and Technology” – which was a great success. As this year approached, it was clear that it was impossible for both domestic and international participants to travel, and based on the huge success of the 2020 remote conference, they decided to move forward remotely with the “Solidarity and Community” conference, with nearly all the previously arranged speakers and presenters. This year’s remote conference also was a huge success, Katie said. With nearly 200 registrants, the conference took place over four days and featured 47 presenters from 13 countries/ Highlights included two Keynote Addresses and a Book Panel. Katie had previous connections to the two Keynote speakers. The keynote addresses were by philosophical counselor and author from South Africa, Helen Douglas and by University of Vermont Emeritus Professor Richard Sugarman. The conference Book Panel featured Annabel Herzog.
(posted February 2022)
Katie Kirby, professor of philosophy, and director of global studies, reports: “During the remote North American Levinas Society (NALS) international conference that I organized and hosted in July 2020, I also presented my paper, “The Body Speaks!: Reflections on Body Language and the Power & Limitation of Zoom in Transformative Pedagogy.” I will also be co-organizing and co-hosting this year’s NALS remote international conference, July 26-29, 2021. The theme for the conference is “Solidarity and Community,”and I will also be presenting my own paper during one of the sessions, “Toward the Migrant: The Scandal of Indifference and the Possibility of Care.”
(Posted July 2021)
Katie Kirby, professor of philosophy, in June was a guest for a segment on the former WDEV news talk show, The Dave Gram Show. From the Waterbury radio station’s website teaser about that show: “Terence Cuneo of the University of Vermont and Katherine Kirby of St. Michael’s answer this question: Has postmodernism’s skepticism about facts harmed American politics?” Also, this past summer, Katie organized and hosted The North American Levinas Society (NALS) 2020 conference, which was well attended with abundant positive feedback from participants afterward.
(posted February 2021)
“The Body Speaks!: Reflections on Body Language and the Power & Limitations of Zoom in Transformative Pedagogy,” presented at the 15th Annual Meeting of the North American Levinas Society (Remote Video-Conference, July 20-23, 2020).
“’But I’m Not Racist!’: Denial, Fragility, & the Desire for Invulnerability,” presented at the 14th Annual Meeting of the North American Levinas Society (Drake University, July 23-26, 2019, Des Moines, Iowa).
“The Idolatry of Individualism & the Cultural Violence of Indifference,” presented at the Annual Meeting of the Concerned Philosophers for Peace (Loyola Univ., Oct. 22-24, 2015, Baltimore, Maryland).
Academic Conference Organization
“The Face and the Interface: Levinas, Teaching, and Technology,” Remote Video-Conference for the 15th annual meeting of the North American Levinas Society, Chair of organizing committee, July 20th-23rd, 2020.
“Review – Intercultural Dialogue: In Search of Harmony in Diversity, by Edward Demenchonok.” Book Review in Journal of Intercultural Studies, vol.39, no.1 (December 2017).
“Cultivating Responsible Global Citizenship: Philosophical Exploration & Service-Learning in Guyana.” Experiential Learning in Philosophy (Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy, 2016).
“Push, Pull, and Reverse: Self-Interest, Responsibility, and the Global Health Care Worker Shortage.” Co-Authored with Patricia Siplon (St. Michael’s College, Political Science). Health Care Analysis, vol.20, no.2 (2012).
Katherine Kirby of the philosophy faculty was a winner of one of this year’s major faculty awards at the Annual Academic Convocation in the fall, being presented with the Norbert A. Kuntz Service Award. Students Katie’s new Saint Michael’s College junior seminar titled “Ethics and Community Engagement,” organized a “Winter Wonderland Party” on December 10 in the International Commons to celebrate an ongoing fruitful partnership that Katie initiated in 2008 for her students with residents at Saint Joseph Residential Care Home in Burlington.
(posted February 2020)
Katie Kirby (philosophy faculty) and Traci Griffith of the media studies, journalism and digital arts faculty led 13 Saint Michael’s students on a study trip to South Africa, The group used both Cape Town and Johannesburg as their classrooms. The course title for this May 13-28 trip was “South Africa – Resistance, Revolution, & Representation.”
(posted June 2019)
Katherine Kirby, associate professor of philosophy and global studies, in early June led a two-week study trip with 10 students to Guyana with a service-and-learning focus, teaming with Kimoi Seale of the College’s Student Life office and an alumna assistant, Danika Gallup.
(posted June 2018)
Katie Kirby, associate professor of philosophy and director of global studies, had an article entitled “Cultivating Responsible Global Citizenship: Philosophical Exploration & Service-Learning in Guyana” published in a book collection, Experiential Learning in Philosophy, in September 2015. She gave an invited presentation on this work last April at Frostburg State University, in Maryland. She presented “Economics For-the-Other: Can Capitalism Be Made to Hear the Call to Responsibility?” at Purdue University in July for the 10th Annual Meeting of the North American Levinas Society, where she also serves as a member of the Board of Directors. She presented “The Idolatry of Individualism & the Cultural Violence of Indifference” at the annual meeting of the Concerned Philosophers for Peace, in October at Loyola University, in Baltimore, Maryland.
(posted January 2016)
Katherine Kirby, associate professor of philosophy/director of the Global Studies Program, recently was elected to be a member of the Board of Directors of the North American Levinas Society. She also has given two conference presentations in recent months: At the annual meeting of the North American Levinas Society at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA, July 28-31, she presented “Relinquishing ‘religion’ for the Sake of Religion: Judgment vs. Justice.” In this paper, she discusses Emmanuel Levinas’ suggestion that Religion is discourse, and real “interreligious dialogue” would paradoxically depend upon the relinquishing of religious judgment, in service to justice. She then suggests and explains the important emotional underpinning (fear/anger) to our conceptualizations that makes relinquishing judgment incredibly difficult, and all the more necessary. She explores this argument in the context of our modern media’s treatment of events involving persons of Islamic faith and examines these justice dilemmas in order to elucidate Levinas’ argument that God – the divine – is present among us only in “the justice rendered unto men” (Levinas, Totality and Infinity, 78). Katie also presented “TV as Gadfly: A Contemporary Call to Critique” at the NorthEast Popular/American Culture Association at Saint Michael’s College October 25-26, 2013. In this paper, she examined the role that certain very well-done TV shows can play in challenging viewers to call into question their assumptions, stereotypes, and worldviews. She used The Wire as her example of a TV show that provokes philosophical questioning through the presentation of complex, multi-dimensional characters who unsettle us and call us to care about their struggles and their fates, and demand that we not sit comfortably with our limited understanding of their “worlds.” In this way, the creators of such TV shows act as Socratic gadflies and call us to be more open-minded and open-hearted in our endeavor to understand others. (November 2013)