Skip to toolbar

  Our People

 

Zachary Agoff

Zachary Agoff

I am interested in the history of early modern philosophy, metaphysics, and topics in philosophy of religion. Outside of academics, I enjoy practicing martial arts, getting into the great outdoors, and playing guitar. 

Regarding philosophy for the young: Regarding philosophy for the young: When I was first considering a PhD in philosophy, I was debating whether or not to pursue a career as a history teacher. P4Y is an exciting opportunity for me to get a taste of both worlds by bringing philosophy to elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. Philosophy helps develop curiosity, it encourages both scrutiny and empathy, and can provide tools for critical thinking. I find that these sorts of characteristics are particularly useful both in and outside of academia. I’m excited to witness them be encouraged and developed by the P4Y program during my time at Penn.

Cole Borlee

Cole Borlee

My name is Cole Borlee and I am a sophomore studying philosophy and political science. I am interested in constitutional law, national politics, and egalitarianism, and I plan on going to law school after Penn. 

Regarding philosophy for the young: I am interested in helping teach philosophy to youth because I recognize the great potential effects it can have on them; in addition to greatly advancing the youth’s writing and critical thinking skills, it allows them the opportunity to personally mature and develop in their attitudes towards the world and people. I’m honored to be able to give these youth this incredible opportunity. 

Clarissa Busch

Clarissa Busch

I am primarily interested in philosophy of science with a focus on the social sciences, as well as social epistemology.

Regarding philosophy for the young: My own interest in philosophy was sparked when I was a child, and so childhood curiosity seems like a natural starting point for doing philosophy. I believe that philosophical thinking can be a great tool to help young people make sense of the world around them.

Katie Busch

Katie Busch

 My name is Katie Busch and I am a freshman in the College studying Moral & Political Philosophy and Psychology. I am interested in criminal justice and philosophical questions regarding the justification for punishment as well as the study of how society determines moral and cultural norms.

Regarding philosophy for the young: I am passionate about teaching philosophy to youth because I firmly believe that strong critical thinking is the most important skill one can develop. I also believe that attempting to tackle the moral and existential questions philosophy poses provides an opportunity for tremendous personal growth and holds the potential to greatly shape a person’s thoughts and actions, especially if introduced at a young age.  

Karen Detlefsen

Karen Detlefsen

Director

Karen is Professor of Philosophy and Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests lie in early modern (17-18th centuries) philosophy, including the history of philosophy of science, the history and philosophy of education, and women philosophers of the early modern period. She also has teaching and research interests in contemporary philosophy of education. She has held research grants from The National Science Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Australian Research Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada. She has been award Penn’s Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Award for Distinguished Teaching by an Assistant Professor (2007) and the Provost’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching (2016).

Regarding philosophy for the young: As undergraduate chair in philosophy (2009-13), Karen became interested in philosophy’s potential for public engagement and began researching models for ABCS (academically based community service) teaching. This led to her project in teaching philosophy to high school students, which has since expanded to include middle school students (she aims to eventually reach all students from K-12). She has integrated Penn undergraduates and graduate students alike in this form of public engagement.

Stephen Esser

Stephen Esser

Associate Director

Steve Esser received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018. Steve’s research focus is philosophy of science. Prior to graduate school, Steve had a 25 year business career as an  investment manager.

Regarding philosophy for the young: I have long been interested in philosophy outreach to the public and K-12 students in particular. Since 2005, I have volunteered with the Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium, helping area philosophers organize an event called the “Public Issues Forum,” one of which focused on philosophy for children. I have also volunteered for several years as a judge at the Delaware Valley Regional High School Ethics Bowl, held annually at Villanova University.

Allauren Forbes

Allauren Forbes

My research focuses on transformative relations like friendship, marriage, and education and how they underwrite one’s intellectual and political capacities in early modern philosophy. How do social forces like custom shape the ways in which people are able to think about themselves and others? Can certain relations – especially those traditionally thought to be oppressive or unavailable to women – promote freedom and virtue?

Regarding philosophy for the young: I think philosophy, when it goes well, is transformative and intellectually/affectively engaging. Getting younger folks interested in and excited about philosophy is good for their overall education, but so too is it good for philosophy to expand and accommodate new practitioners and perspectives. Plus, philosophy with the young is a tonne of fun!

Nick Friedman

Nick Friedman

I serve as an emergency department technician and conduct research in the Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Health System. I received a B.A. in Chemistry from Skidmore College in 2017 and will begin medical school at the Stanford University School of Medicine in 2019. My primary philosophical interests include the philosophy of science and medicine, biomedical ethics, philosophy of mind, and K-12 philosophy education.

Regarding philosophy for the young: I was first exposed to philosophy through a required ethics course in high school. The course sparked my love of philosophy and ethics and I have since had an intense interest in promoting K-12 philosophy education. With the P4Y team, I designed and implemented a philosophy and ethics of science course for 9th-graders at Science Leadership Academy in Center City, Philadelphia. I strongly believe that K-12 philosophy education can be a powerful tool to help students develop as open-minded, critical thinkers, and I believe that philosophy is particularly important for students with interests in the STEM fields. I am thrilled that P4Y and other programs are beginning to make philosophy accessible, engaging – and maybe even a little fun – for students of all ages and backgrounds. 

Mike Gadomski

Mike Gadomski

Mike is interested in ethics and political philosophy, particularly issues in global justice.

Regarding philosophy for the young: I think philosophy can help people enjoy and make sense of their lives, so why not start young?

Momena Haider

Momena Haider

Momena is a sophomore majoring in Philosophy, and is also an international student from the UK.

Regarding philosophy for the young: I care about the work of P4Y because I think philosophy can embrace the intense curiosity so common in the young, and I believe this to also be useful for other subjects from which philosophy provides a nice break. Personally, it is just enjoyable to see a young person get excited about things they may not have thought about or may not have been asked about otherwise.

Henry Hung

Henry Hung

I am a sophomore from Hong Kong studying Moral and Political Philosophy. Outside of classes, I am interested in reading, movie watching, and coffee drinking.

Regarding philosophy for the young: Coming from a place where students are taught under a rigid, East Asian-style, academically-focused curriculum, I had little chance to explore the wonders of Philosophy before my college years. Through participating in P4Y, I wish to enable young children to do what I have not been taught to do – to be curious, inquisitive, and to “ask the silly questions”. After I graduate, I would like to introduce the P4Y concept to Hong Kong and launch similar initiatives. 

Arnav Lal

Arnav Lal

My name is Arnav Lal I am a first year undergraduate studying biophysics and philosophy. I enjoy studying theories of justice, and occasionally question my free will.

Regarding philosophy for the young: When exposed to philosophy, my own worldview was greatly expanded, and I was presented with ideas and questions that really challenged me to think.  I found philosophical discussions to deeply rewarding, and I hope to encourage other students to explore philosophy.  Having volunteered as an educator at a Children’s Museum, I have first-hand experience with the enthusiasm, energy and unique perspectives that children can bring to the table.  I am excited to be a part of the P4Y initiative!

 

Paul Musso

Paul Musso

I am interested in how moral philosophy today is different from moral philosophy in the past, and what that means for how we should understand philosophy’s relationship to living a moral life.

Regarding philosophy for the young: I am interested in expanding the philosophical community because of how empowering philosophical tools can be for promoting independent thought.

 

Ian Peebles

Ian Peebles

I’m interested in ethics (broadly construed), especially bioethics, and its intersection with philosophy of race and religion. Currently, my research is directed at two topics: (1) the ethics of moral bioenhancements, and (2) the ethical and social implications of race-talk given the advancement of genetic interventions.

Regarding philosophy for the young: Working with younger students keeps me tethered to reality and reminds me that philosophy can be accessible and interesting to everyone (not just academics). P4Y also allows me to create a space for students to engage in conversations they find interesting, but haven’t had an opportunity to delve into. My hope is that our work would nurture the curiosity and critical thinking the students already possess, while also exciting them about where such curiosity can take them.

Lillian Phung

Lillian Phung

I am a sophomore (C’22) majoring in Philosophy with a concentration in Science and minoring in the Biological Basis of Behavior with hopes to go to medical school.

Regarding philosophy for the young: Seizing the new academic opportunities that Penn had placed at my fingertips, I took a fun Introduction to Ethics seminar freshman year. I realized that for the past 12 years of my education, I had missed the invaluable critical thinking skills and liberating curiosity that studying philosophy offers us. Introducing philosophy to grade-school students will enable their growing minds to ask questions and ponder on things beyond traditional subjects. And it’s fun!

Sara Purinton

Sara Purinton

My philosophical interests are mainly in ethics, broadly construed (especially bioethics). When I’m not reading philosophy, I can be found hiking, biking, and making art.

Regarding philosophy for the young: I think philosophy is done best when it is informed by a wide range of perspectives, and speaks to a wide range of experiences. P4Y is not only a great opportunity to introduce people to philosophy at a young age, but it also gives us graduate and undergraduate students a chance to see how we can learn from those younger students who are involved in these initiatives.

Brian Reese

Brian Reese

Brian works primarily in ancient philosophy.

Regarding philosophy for the young: Ancient philosophers championed the idea that all human beings are endowed with a capacity to reason, and they believed that one of the central aims of a philosophical education is to develop this capacity. Part of what makes P4Y such a wonderful program is that it folds philosophical training into an already well-established educational framework. By making what is often thought to be an esoteric discipline accessible and engaging, students are able to discover for themselves the joy of philosophizing.

Michael Vazquez

Michael Vazquez

My primary area of research is Ancient Greek and Roman ethics, with a particular focus on Stoicism.

Regarding philosophy for the young: Part and parcel of my academic research is the idea that philosophy ought to be a public practice, so I strive to create spaces for philosophical thinking for non-specialists and folks from all walks of life. P4Y is a great opportunity to teach young philosophers in our community how to reason carefully and how to engage in substantive conversation with others about perennial questions. I also think that in doing this work we stand to learn a great deal about the contours of our own academic discipline of philosophy.

Dustin Webster

Dustin Webster

I am a PhD student in Education, Culture, and Society at the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education. I received an M.A. in Philosophy and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of San Diego. My research interests are concerned with how ideas like liberalism, multiculturalism, toleration, and citizenship are conceptualized, and then communicated in the K-12 classroom. This is driven by a broader interest in the role that education serves in society, particularly in a liberal democracy. I am is also interested in exploring the non-cognitive aspects of civics education, and how they relate to and overlap with character education.

Regarding philosophy for the young: I have long been interested in engaging in philosophy with children and pre-college level students. For many years I worked in K-12 education serving in a variety of roles, including in after school programs, teaching English in South Korea, and teaching 5th grade at a school for children with learning disabilities. During those times, I brought philosophy into my classroom whenever possible. I am always amazed at the power these activities and discussions have had not only for my students, but also for me. I have been trained by the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children in the Lipman-Sharp Community of Inquiry method of philosophy for children. I have also been involved with the National High School Ethics Bowl since 2015.

Yosef Washington

Yosef Washington

My main field of interests is Social Ontology or Social Metaphysics, which for me, concerns how groups form concepts and what are the various metaphysical considerations involved what we call “social construction”.

Regarding philosophy for the young: Philosophy is an activity that asks people to contribute to knowledge production by observing the world around them, while providing critical analysis of tools they use to observe the world. I feel this is an important activity for younger folks to engage in because it provides them agency to be knowledge contributors, rather than just simply knowledge consumers.

Stephanie Wesson

Stephanie Wesson

I am interested in ethics, the philosophy of language, and their history.

Regarding philosophy for the young: I think that young people and philosophy are especially good for each other. Philosophy deals with ordinary questions that we all ask, and gives us ways of living with them honestly. And I think young people have insights into these questions that philosophy needs.

Youngbin Yoon

Youngbin Yoon

Originally from Ridgewood, New Jersey, Youngbin enjoys thinking about topics like love, friendship, pride, and forgiveness. His main areas of interests are normative ethics, metaethics, and political philosophy.

Regarding philosophy for the young: Despite what his name suggests, Youngbin is no longer young enough to know everything. He deeply appreciates learning from those who are.