Edward Sankowski

(This website was updated September 1, 2012)-

Professor of Philosophy; Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences;- University of Oklahoma

I. Introduction and Overview

I received an MA and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Cornell University. I received my undergraduate BA degree in Philosophy at the City University of New York.

My current activities include work as a university faculty member, e.g., as a writer and researcher; teacher; practitioner of outreach and community engagement. I am a university administrator. I also work on other-than-academic projects as a person involved in the world beyond academic organizations. As a faculty member and administrator, I have pragmatic and interdisciplinary interests as well as philosophical interests. I am a practitioner within higher education systems, but besides that, I am a theorist of higher education systems, as well as a public advocate about higher education to internal and external constituencies. My advocacy role extends to my engaged citizenship and to other contexts, including various forms of extra-academic organizational innovation.

Beyond academe (as an arena or as a topic), I exercise my version of engaged citizenship and organizational innovation generally, including concerns about local, national, and global issues. I also hope to further goals (e.g., about writing as such, in various modes, and about aesthetics and the arts) that extend beyond solely academic or political aims, in any confined sense. My own writing, and the writing of those I teach, and reflections on language, are central to what I do.

I am currently a president/member of the board of directors of the state affiliate of a major national-level non-profit civic organization. I have served and expect to further serve that non-profit in its executive, finance, budget and educational functions, through fund-raising activities, through sharing in strategic planning, and in other ways.

Distinctly, though similarly an extra-academic commitment, I am also involved in voter education and voter registration activities.

I am a member of the board of a non-profit trust in India that is aimed at improving life for the disadvantaged.

I am interested in individual and group decision-making, and draw on resources from philosophy, the social sciences, professional practice areas (such as law, medicine, engineering, journalism, public administration, business and finance), science and technology studies, and the arts, among other areas, in investigating and furthering good decision-making.

I believe that academics should act with ethical insight put to good effect not only in academic institutions but also in the non-academic world. However, not to oversimplify, besides ethics in its usual meaning, there are plenty of other types of values I care about. Besides their ethics aspects, love, hard-won knowledge (scientific and non-scientific), aesthetics and the arts, technical ingenuity, etc. are among a variety of goods that attract my commitments.

I believe that both articulating and reasoning about what should be our values, explaining empirically why we have them, and acting on them, must be pursued together. This is tough to do well, and requires drawing on resources of many sorts, some of which I have mentioned.

I am interested in how the wider society makes higher education possible, and in what expectations are legitimate for the wider society about higher educational institutions. There are questions about how all the parts of human culture(s) that are supposed to be at universities and colleges can be assembled and supported, how they can live together at a school, and how such schools do and should interact with the wider society. As part of addressing this, I aim to understand the expanding goals of higher education, its economics, its political and cultural roles. I hope to do my modest part to influence, for the better, higher education and society generally. I am actively attentive about where the resources come from that shape higher education, including legislative appropriations (insofar as they are relevant for the particular institution), student tuition and fees, grants and contracts, fund-raising and philanthropy, auxiliary enterprises, organizational partnerships, etc. How this translates into the budgets, the operations, and the avowed moral or many other purposes of any university or college does occupy me. But this is only as one aspect of social organization in a wider world beyond academe. In a larger sense, it is social organization generally, and the quality of the lives that it makes possible, that most matter; and higher education is only one of the dimensions of social organization. REPEAT AND EMPHASIZE: In a larger sense, it is social organization generally, and the quality of the lives that it makes possible, that most matter; and higher education is only one of the dimensions of social organization.

II. Fundamentals of Social Organization, Globalization

Recent public problems worldwide in politics and the economy, to my mind, re-inforce my view that we all need to think much more deeply than usual and to be actively committed to improving the fundamentals of social organization.

We need educational innovation to deal with fundamentals. These days, like many others, I am in particular pondering the implications of globalization, both opportunities and problems. This is reflected in my administrative work and also in my experience of faculty life, as well as my activities going beyong academe. For example, in teaching Ethical Theory, I am increasingly interested in how the globalization of ethics is changing the questions we must deal with. This is having a considerable impact on my writing as well, and my pragmatic extra-academic engagement. I hope to have said something new and helpful about globalization in one of my essays.

During July and September, 2012, I attended two conferences in China at which I was a speaker and participant in other ways.
One conference, in July, was the Global Outsourcing Summit 2012, in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China, at which I spoke about universities and strategic planning about outsourcing.
A second conference, which I am scheduled to attend in September, is the International Culture Industry Summit, in Jiayuguan City, Gansu Province, China, at which I am a keynote speaker about "Latest Events, General Trends in Developing Global Cultural Industries-Using Technology to Integrate Modernization/Innovation with Tradition in Cultural Development".

During July, August and September, 2011, I travelled to Asia twice, where I engaged in study, research, and meetings in various places.
I was in residence (during part of July and part of August) as a "distinguished" faculty member doing a research project about higher education systems at one local university in Taiwan.
Quite distinctly I attended a major conference elsewhere about globalization and economic issues (Global Economic Leaders Summit 2011 in Changchun, Jilin Province, China) where I spoke about universities and globalization; and I did a lecture (with accompanying audience discussion) about globalization, free will and responsibility, for faculty and students at a university in Jilin Province.
I was particularly interested during these travels in exchanging ideas about major issues concerning higher education systems, and the general global political economy and financial system. These two visits included contacts with citizens, various other types of residents, education officials from government, political figures, influential executives of large-scale multi-national corporations, representatives of small businesses, academics with many disciplinary orientations (economics, engineering, philosophy, public administration, business, law, etc.), and so on. I interacted with individuals with varying backgrounds of origin, current residence or citizenship, including among other places (countries, regions, provinces, cities, etc.), in Beijing, in the USA (e.g., from San Francisco-California, College Park-Maryland, Athens-Georgia), Taiwan and the Taiwanese diaspora, northeastern China (including Jilin Province), South Africa, Namibia, Iceland, Malaysia, Spain (i.e., Catalonia), Bulgaria, Poland, Austria, Australia, New Zealand. I learned a lot from these experiences about many of the topics and areas that currently pre-occupy me, such as globalization, universities, decision-processes, cultures, and values.

I presented a paper on July 28, 2009 at the International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (ICAES), a major periodic conference which is one aspect of the work of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES). This was the sixteenth international gathering of ICAES, and was held from July 27-31, 2009 in Kunming, China . There were an estimated four thousand participants. Typically, ICAES is held every five years. My paper, Global and National Dimensions of Universities, Public Health, and Economic Development, (projected to be published), was part of a section (which I also chaired) of a panel meeting. Others on the panel were academics and government officials from a variety of countries, including India , Italy , and Egypt . My overall travel to China on this occasion included time well spent in Beijing.

III. Public Presentations about Varied University Administrative Projects and Higher Education Issues

I have organized panels and presented papers discussing my varied university administrative projects and higher education issues, e.g., at the annual meeting of the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences (CCAS), a North American organization.
I am scheduled to be a speaker on two panels in 2013 at the Manchester meeting of the IUAES (International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences).

In November, 2012, I am scheduled to do two talks at panels which I co-organized for the CCAS annual meeting in Seattle. One panel is about negotiating cross-national values differences in higher education alliances. A second panel is about encouraging research in difficult economic times.

On November 5, 2011, I did a talk as part of a panel which I organized at the CCAS annual meeting in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, about liberal education, globalization, ethics, and politics.

On November 3, 2011, I did a talk as part of a panel at the CCAS annual meeting in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, about the formation in higher education institutions of centers and institutes as the nucleus for interdisciplinary research. This panel is sponsored by the committee on research institutions within CCAS.

In October, 2011, I did a talk on Global Justice and Global Public Health at the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences annual meeting in Cincinnati.

On November 12, 2010, I did a talk as part of a panel which I organized at the CCAS annual meeting in New Orleans, about community engagement and research by colleges of arts and sciences. At the same conference, I led a luncheon discussion about Diversity and Deans on November 11, 2011.

On November 14, 2009, I did a talk as part of a panel which I organized and chaired at the CCAS annual meeting in Baltimore, about research collaborations across different colleges at the same university. This panel was sponsored by the committee on research institutions within CCAS. This talk fit in rather well with my participation in a group visit from my university to Washington, DC, to explore with persons in federal agencies the enhancement of federal research funding at the school. The group consisted of research and technology development administrators and representatives of various colleges at OU, including the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Business, etc. There are ongoing post-visit follow-up activities at my university in conjunction with the federal agencies. I have engaged in strategic planning across a wide range of research areas, and recently particularly in energy/environmental research areas.

I am a member of the committee on research universities, the committee on cultural diversity, and an ad hoc committee on best practices, within CCAS.

At one previous CCAS annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, I presented a paper as part of a panel I organized and chaired about international and global aspects of universities; at another CCAS annual meeting in Boston, (held in conjunction with the International Council of Fine Arts Deans annual meeting), I presented a paper as part of a panel I organized and chaired about the arts at universities and in the broader society; at another, in Portland, Oregon, I presented a paper as part of a panel I organized about the College of Arts and Sciences (and similar units) in strategic planning and budget decisions, as well as organizational partnerships, that influence the course of decision-making about the overall goals of universities. At that same CCAS conference, I also participated (using a poster and PowerPoint) in a poster/multi-media session about integrating liberal arts education and professional preparation.

I have also presented my writing and ideas (combining organizational analysis and pragmatic proposals with multidisciplinary reflections) at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) annual meeting.

On January 28, 2011, I did a talk at the AAC&U annual meeting (Higher Education and the Globalization of Ethics). The overall theme of this conference in San Francisco was Global Positioning: Essential Learning, Student Success, and the Currency of U.S. Degrees.

On January 26, 2008, I did a talk at a previous annual meeting of AAC&U about higher education-related institutional decisions about money.

Also, an invited and refereed article by me (about philosophy, public health studies, and liberal education) appeared in Peer Review, published by AAC&U in Washington, DC.

I have presented my writing and ideas at conferences organized by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).
On June 14, 2012, I did a talk at the AAUP Annual  Meeting on the State of Higher Education. My talk was entitled Academic Freedom, University Funding Alliances, and Critical Ethics of Citizen Freedom.

On June 10, 2011, I did a talk at the AAUP Annual Meeting on the State of Higher Education. My talk was entitled Academic Freedom and the Politics of Culture.

In November 2010, at an AAUP conference on governance in Washington, DC, I did a talk about diversity issues and university governance.

In November, 2010, at an American Anthropological Association annual meeting, I read a paper about changing concepts of diversity in US higher education.

IV. Some General Interests in Management, Philosophy, and Philosophy of Social Science

My main philosophical interests are in Ethics and in Social and Political Philosophy. Some other areas in which I work (as a faculty member): Philosophy of Social Science, Philosophy of Education (especially about universities and colleges), Philosophy of Art.

I publish on free agency and responsibility, autonomy, individual and collective choice and decision, democracy, education, the social sciences, science and society, the arts.

I typically present my research papers at a wide variety of types of scholarly societies. For example, I have read refereed papers about my research, not only at American Philosophical Association annual meetings, but also at American Political Science Association annual meetings (e.g., about democratic legitimacy); Association for Politics and the Life Sciences annual meetings (e.g., about the ethics of scientific research at American universities, including research on human subjects, and topics concerning the ethics of the bio-behavioral and life sciences, as well as medicine in society); and American Anthropological Association annual meetings (e.g., about democratic legitimacy and culture).

In Fall, 2009, on December 3, I did a talk, based on a paper of mine (Anthropology, Political Philosophy, and the Ethics of Identity) at the American Anthropological Association annual meeting. In this paper I discuss the ethics of identity and globalization, as well as the relevance of these concepts to normative advocacy, and empirical explanation of normative positions in ethics and politics.

My approach to philosophy encourages interdisciplinary studies as well as seeking to advance and develop more traditional disciplines. In general, as an administrator also, I aim to support academic strength within established disciplines in the arts and sciences, as well as interdisciplinary studies, multiple-college collaborations at the same institution, co-operation among different institutions, and interconnections between universities and the wider world. I and a colleague in philosophy have participated in a study of environmental ethics as part of a multi-year, multidisciplinary project about water management, environmental policy, and decision-making, with many collaborators from two universities, funded (about $850,000+) by the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency, and bringing together both varied academics and non-academics (such as public officials and interested citizens). This has been one stimulus among many to my thinking and writing about democratic legitimacy, a topic that underlies quite a bit of my research. Democratic legitimacy fits in well as a topic with my research and teaching foci on the ethics and political theory of choice and decision, freedom and autonomy, as well as responsibility.

Generally, I emphasize the potential uses of philosophy and some other university disciplines in guiding practical reasoning, choice and decision, and value judgments by individuals and organizations. I make no sharp distinction between ethics and other types of decision-making, or between academic and non-academic problem-solving. I'm interested in international issues (e.g., South African democracy: I've taught, delivered papers, and traveled there; in issues about political and economic development in countries such as China and in India ).

V. Selected University Administrative Projects about Curriculum

As mentioned above, I have taken on administrative as well as faculty work. This includes familiarity with the usual areas of university administrative activities, such as strategic planning and budgets, and among many other things, research initiatives and curricular innovation.

Among other things, as an administrator I have coordinated the development of a new interdisciplinary undergraduate degree program in Information Studies, now operational and very successful, and have collaborated on the development of new master’s degrees in Organizational Psychology and in Knowledge Management, among other degree programs. I coordinated development of a new interdisciplinary undergraduate degree program in Religious Studies (now operational and very successful), and I have designed a new interdisciplinary undergraduate degree option in Organizational Studies, attracting remarkable student interest. I have worked on a campus-wide project to develop curricula about the ethics (and related legal and administrative norms, and the politics) of scientific research. As part of this, I taught a course listed in the Psychology Department (under the listing, Psychology 4920, Current Topics in Basic and Applied Psychology) about the ethics of scientific research at American research universities. This course is one expression of my curiosity about the empirical and normative study of organizations, including ethics and other modes of decision-making in organizations. This is a long-standing motivation of mine, and I have often taught or co-taught courses at all levels with natural scientists and social scientists about the interconnections of science and individual or collective choices.

VI. Teaching and Mentoring of Undergraduates

I enjoy teaching at all levels, including teaching of undergraduates.

I teach classes for undergraduates and graduate students, especially in Ethics and Social or Political Philosophy, as well as Philosophy of Law. As I teach it, Ethical Theory and the other areas include study of work by philosophers, social scientists, legal scholars (and legal practitioners), etc. This type of philosophy is both interdisciplinary and includes empirical work.

Thus, as noted elsewhere, I have also taught interdisciplinary courses and courses in other departments and university units than philosophy altogether (or other than the humanities generally), particularly in the social sciences, and in science and technology studies.

One of my undergraduate students and advisees, who was an outstanding student in Philosophy of Law, received a prize for his undergraduate honors research done with me, and plans to attend law school.

VII. Teaching and Mentoring of Graduate Students

I enjoy teaching and mentoring of graduate students in various fields.

I have directed fourteen completed doctoral dissertations and at least five masters theses, mainly in philosophy but also in interdisciplinary areas such as rhetoric and communication and healthcare policy. Of my two most recent doctoral students, one wrote her dissertation on the ethics and politics of moral and civic education particularly in American universities and colleges, and the other wrote on the ethics of genetics-based medical interventions.

I have served as a committee member for graduate students in different fields, including Psychology, Political Science, Educational Psychology, English, Social Work/Public Health, etc.

My own doctoral and masters students have written in many areas. Most of the graduate students whose dissertations and theses I have supervised have gone on to work in academic positions, a few in non-academic managerial and executive positions, and some in both types of positions. E.g., one is currently Lincoln Professor of Applied Ethics at Arizona State University, having previously taught at Fordham University. She wrote a dissertation under my direction about the philosophy of language of John Searle, but later got increasingly interested in ethics, especially feminist ethics. Another doctoral recipient who worked with me taught at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and he then moved on to a career as a higher military officer and analyst. Another student, Fuchuan Yao, who wrote his doctoral dissertation with me, is currently teaching at a university in Taipei, Taiwan . He is an active publishing scholar. One student of mine, Christopher Herrera, received an OU prize for his doctoral dissertation on the ethics of research in psychology and the social sciences. He spent two years in a post-doctoral position which funded his individual research at the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics, spent more time in a post-doctoral collaborative research position at McGill University, and then got a tenure-track job at a public university in New Jersey, where he is now a tenured Associate Professor. He was chairing a search committee when I chatted with him at one meeting of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association in Washington, DC. I believe he will be pursuing further education in public health while also working as a tenured philosophy faculty member. Another doctoral recipient who worked with me, writing his dissertation on the history and normative politics of Native American sovereignty issues, who is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation, is now Director of Native American Studies, and is a tenured Associate Professor at a state university in Oklahoma, another of my doctoral students who wrote in Philosophy of Law received his doctorate, and has a tenured job as an Associate Professor at yet another state university in Oklahoma. Another doctoral recipient who worked with me, Karen Mizell, who wrote in Aesthetics, is now an Associate Professor at a state university in Utah. One of my masters students, Susan Alvarado, wrote a thesis about multiculturalism, and then went on to a doctoral program in higher education administration, and employment, at the University of Texas at Austin, before receiving her doctorate and subsequently becoming a faculty member at another school in Texas. John Duncan wrote a doctoral dissertation in philosophy under my supervision, and went on to become a faculty member in Interdisciplinary and Cultural Studies in the College of Liberal Studies at the University of Oklahoma, where he teaches administrative leadership, among other subjects; he also has an appointment in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the College of Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Harry Moore, whose doctoral dissertation in medical ethics I supervised, is a faculty member and chair of the humanities division at St. Gregorys University, a Benedictine institution in Oklahoma. Before and during his doctoral work, Harry Moore was employed as a religion and healthcare counselor at a hospital.

VIII. Selective Illustrative Short List of Some Representative Publications

Here is a highly selective illustrative short list of some of my representative publications and forthcoming publications.

"Globalization" and "Foreign Policy", articles in the Encyclopedia of Global Justice (Springer, Dordrecht); "Global and National Dimensions of Universities, Public Health, and Economic Development," (forthcoming, International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences); "Philosophy, Public Health, and Liberal Education," Peer Review (Association of American Colleges & Universities-Washington, DC)-(2009); "Film Studies, the Moving Image, and Noel Carroll," in The Journal of Aesthetic Education (2006); "South African Democracy, Multi-Culturalism, Rights, and Community," in Problems for Democracy, eds. John Kultgen and Mary Lenzi (Rodopi, Amsterdam)-(2006); "Film, Crime, and State Legitimacy: Political Education or Mis-Education?", The Journal of Aesthetic Education (2002); "Negotiating Science and Values in the Illinois River Basin", M. Meo, L. Caneday, W. Focht, R. Lynch, B. Pettus, E. Sankowski, Z. Trachtenberg, B. Vieux, K. Willett, published on a CD-ROM resulting from a conference, "Integrated Decision-Making for Watershed Management Symposium: Processes and Tools," (2001), sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation, etc. A version of this paper was also published in The Journal of the American Water Resources Association (2002); "Liberalism, Communitarianism, and Moral Education," Philosophy of Education (1999); "Autonomy, Education, and Politics", Philosophy of Education, (1998); "Racism, Human Rights, and Universities", Social Theory and Practice (1996); "Art Museums, Autonomy, and Canons," The Monist (1993); "Paternalism' and Social Policy", "Blame and Autonomy", both in American Philosophical Quarterly (1985, 1992).