Andréa Wilson completed her PhD in philosophy this year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and is currently teaching philosophy courses at the University of Vermont. She’s motivated in both her research and teaching by the idea that the content and methods of philosophy are relevant to all of our lives and can transform each of us into more thoughtful, engaged, and responsible believers and actors. Her research focuses on understanding the ways in which oppressive socialization can undermine the personal autonomy of oppressed individuals by instilling in them false ideas about their degree of self-worth or the source of their self-worth. She’s taught courses on topics like medical ethics, sexual ethics, equality of opportunity in the U.S., and agency under conditions of oppression.
Ms. Wilson designs her philosophy courses in way that makes the material relevant to her students’ lives and how they shape their identities. Her goals for her courses reflect a desire for students to leave class with the ability to understand the perspectives and motivations of those with whom they disagree, to express their own beliefs in a productive way, and to revise their beliefs if they find they have a good reason to do so. To accomplish these goals, Ms. Wilson creates a classroom environment that emphasizes respect, compassion, and flexibility. As one of her students writes, “She does an excellent job of allowing students to feel as if their voices and opinions are valid and structures her classroom in a way that supports student discourse and classroom discussion.”