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Coleen Zoller, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Philosophy


Philosophy is my passion, and sharing it with my students is a joy. Sometimes both teacher and student can feel as though they’re supposed to turn off their personality when in the classroom. But I try to bring my real self to the classroom because education is so much more meaningful if you connect it with your real life.

There is merit in loving wisdom for its own sake, but I want students to make use of the philosophical theories they study. In that spirit, the courses I teach take up topics that are relevant in the world today. For example, over a billion human beings live in extreme poverty, going without food, potable water, shelter, healthcare, or education. Many Americans aren’t even aware of this grave problem. People who have their own basic needs met must ask what moral obligation they have to those who don’t. The discipline of philosophy invites us to think critically about how to answer ethical questions like this one.

One of the other aspects of my work with students that I find very exciting is the GO Greece program. This two-week program focuses on Greek culture, both ancient and modern. As a Plato scholar, I find it thrilling to visit the Agora in Athens, for example, where Socrates engaged in philosophical discourse each day. Even though Greek philosophy flourished over 2,000 years ago, the questions and concerns of Greek philosophers remain just as relevant today.

I believe that students should study whatever subjects they find most fascinating. Take courses that stretch your capacities and expand your horizons. Students interested in philosophy can rest assured that the skills one develops in philosophy, such as rigorous analysis, critical thinking and communication skills, are valuable in any career.


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