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c/o wesleyan.edu

Lori Gruen, the William Griffin Professor of Philosophy, Professor of Science in Society and Professor of Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies has won the Laurence S. Rockefeller Distinguished Teaching Visiting Professorship at Princeton. As part of the professorship, Gruen will teach a course alongside other Princeton professors entitled “The Environmental Nexus.”

Gruen spoke with The Argus via email about the professorship.

“Princeton has a remarkable interdisciplinary program known as the University Center for Human Values that was established through the generosity of Laurance S. Rockefeller,” she wrote. “Every year the Center brings together faculty from around the world to teach and discuss pressing ethical issues.”

According to the center’s website, Princeton’s University Center for Human Values is a hub that houses scholars and scholarships focused on human values and ethics. Laurence C. Rockefeller, who graduated from the school in 1932, funded the center’s creation in 1990.

“…The Center is the hub of a lively and exciting community that brings together Princeton faculty members, graduate students, undergraduates, visiting faculty fellows and other visitors,” the center’s website reads. “…[The center] sponsors a series of Freshman Seminars. The undergraduate certificate program in Values and Public Life defines a pathway through the curriculum for students interested in developing a focus on human values…. And we support research on human values by Princeton faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduates. Through all of these activities, the Center strives to provide the larger community with the space and resources to reflect systematically about fundamental questions of value—how we should understand our moral identities, how we should treat each other, and how we should try to shape our world.”

The purpose of the Laurence S. Rockefeller Distinguished Teaching Visiting Professorship, according to a description on Princeton’s website, is to give students the chance to work with and learn from distinguished scholars who do not work for Princeton.

“These visiting professorships were established as part of Princeton’s 250th Anniversary teaching initiatives, enabling the University Center to bring to campus excellent undergraduate teachers and scholars whose teaching and research explicitly examine values in public and private life,” the description reads. “Visiting professors normally teach one undergraduate course, organize at least one event focused on pedagogy, and participate in seminars, colloquia, and other activities of the University Center for Human Values. They also enjoy access to Firestone Library and to a wide range of activities throughout the University.”

While Gruen will be serving as a visiting professor at the University Center for Human Values, “The Environmental Nexus” is listed on Princeton’s website under the Princeton Environmental Institute.

“This course addresses multiple dimensions of these issues, including scientific, political, social and ethical aspects and will be accessible to all majors and classes,” a description of the class on the Environmental Institute’s website reads. “By engaging high numbers of students from multiple disciplinary backgrounds, the faculty of ENV 200 hope to create the largest possible conversation within the University about climate change and other pressing environmental challenges.”

Gruen will be joined by three other professors, all of whom are Princeton faculty. The class will be led by Stephen Pacala, the Frederick D. Petrie Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and former director of the Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI), who also taught the class in the spring of 2017. Robert Nixon, who is the Thomas A. and Currie C. Barron Family Professor in Humanities and the Environment, and a professor of English, will also join Pacala and Gruen. Finally, Marc Fleurbaey, the Robert E. Kuenne Professor in Economics and Humanistic Studies and Professor of public affairs for the University Center for Human Values, will teach on environmental and economic issues. Other faculty members will participate in the course as well.

This is not the first time Gruen has co-taught a course with other professors. This semester, for example, Gruen is teaching a course entitled “Reproduction in the 21st Century” with Professor Laura Grabel. The course examines the biology of reproduction and the ethical questions surrounding contemporary reproductive and contraceptive technologies.

“Having taught with Laura Grabel here at Wesleyan I know how exciting and demanding these truly interdisciplinary courses are,” Gruen writes. “I’ve already been skyping in to meetings about the Spring course and meeting all the people involved in its coordination. I have learned so much teaching Reproduction in the 21st [Century] with Grabel — not just about biology, but about how to effectively teach biological questions and problems. I’m sure the Environmental Nexus course will be a terrific learning experience for me and I’m looking forward to sharing my expertise in ethical thinking and political philosophy with the students at Princeton.”

Gruen says she looks forward teaching at Princeton.

“I have found from my years of teaching in the men’s prison at Cheshire, that teaching different students, in other places, reinvigorates my teaching here at Wesleyan,” she writes. “I’m sure the opportunity to teach at Princeton will do the same.”


Henry Spiro can be reached at hspiro@wesleyan.edu or on Twitter @JudgeyMcJudge1.

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