Alexa graduated with a BA in Music History from the University of Oxford and an MPhil in Historical Musicology from the University of Cambridge. She completed her PGCE in secondary education at Roehampton University. A native Londoner, Alexa spent twelve years working as a teacher and school leader before joining the Philosophy and Education program at Teachers College. Alexa’s research interests include educational ethics, pupil and teacher agency, confidence and pupil empowerment, and the relationship between education systems and society.
Born in the Bronx, NY, Robert discovered his passion for philosophy during his senior year of high school. After graduating from La Salle University with a BA in Philosophy and Communication he discovered that he also had a strong passion for education, and he was determined on becoming a professor of philosophy. In his words, “The greatest way in which I can add to the betterment of society and incite social change is by influencing the minds of our future generations. I intend to get to the root problems in education and reform it in a way that will empower individuals to achieve their personal goals, not simply join in the rat race of the monotonous workforce.” His research interests include but are not limited to education policy, epistemology, and existentialism. He is also interested in thinkers like Dewey, Rousseau, and Montaigne. Robert currently works as a presenter with a company called Elevate Education in which he goes out to middle/high schools throughout the five boroughs and he helps the youth to become better students by teaching them various study skills and belief systems. When he is not engaging in scholarly endeavors, he can be found skateboarding around the concrete jungle of NYC.
Ruben Jang graduated from SUNY-Binghamton with a B.A. in English and a J.D. from the University of Hawaii Law School. He worked as an attorney in Honolulu for four years before joining Teachers College. His main academic interests are legal philosophy and the relationship between philosophy, law, and policy.
Sebastian comes from a Cuban-American family on eastern Long Island and holds a BA in Anthropology from Vassar College and an MS in Development Practice from UC Berkeley. While at Berkeley he was a TA in the Gender & Women’s Studies department. Sebastian has worked both domestically and internationally as an educator, mostly in agricultural science and most recently in Paraguay with the Peace Corps. Sebastian is currently interested in studying the metaphysics of curricula but is very open to weighing new ideas, directions, and questions. Outside school, Sebastian enjoys bikes, boats, hikes, basketball, music, and gardens. He's also learning to play chess.
Shapel LaBorde is a proud Queens native teaching TESOL at an elementary school in Queens. She earned her Bachelor’s in Philosophy at Spelman College and her first Master’s in TESOL at Hunter College School of Education. She also is a Licensed Esthetician and Licensed Nail Technician. She is currently in the Masters of Arts Philosophy and Education program. Her interests include exploring themes of knowledge construction in relation to senses, feminist ethics and critical race theory. Shapel loves her community and family and consistently seeks ways to improve the conditions of the two.Raised by her mother and Grandma Babe, she still carries with much fortitude the mantra her great-grandmother instilled in her: "God, Brains, and Manners" wherever she goes. She lives with her active and amazing two year old daughter, Sage Ali.
Jessica Lipaz is a first year master’s student originally from Los Angeles. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2021 with bachelors’ degrees in Philosophy and Education Studies. Emphasizing identity development, she hopes to use philosophy to support K-12 students’ understanding of their social role in the world around them. She believes doing this work through dialogue facilitation is part of her own role in addressing systemic injustice. Jessica is currently a Zankel Fellow with the Media and Social Change Lab, and is interested in learning more about non-traditional curriculum methods at TC.
Nathan graduated from the University of Florida in 2019 with a BA in philosophy. He discovered his passion for philosophy in high school, and after working as a Writing TA for the philosophy department at UF, realized he also wanted to go into education. Not wanting to let go of his philosophy background, he is attending TC to merge the two fields and learn more about what roles philosophy and social justice play in the modern US education system. Nathan spends a lot of time thinking about the rights of young persons in society, philosophy in schools, and philosophy as an art of living.
Brittany holds a BA in English and art history from Muhlenberg College and an MA TESOL from the New School. She teaches English as a Second Language at the American Language Program, Columbia University. Brittany’s pedagogical interests include extensive listening, critical thinking, and incorporating art, poetry, and music into ESL instruction. At TC, Brittany hopes to study the relationship between poetry and education and the ethics of English-language teaching. In her free time, Brittany reads and writes poetry about rock and roll, films, and other poems.
Cecily Polonsky is a MA student in the Philosophy and Education programme. She graduated from Princeton University in 2019 with a degree in Comparative Literature (Russian and German focus). Having taught at elementary schools in both the US and the UK, Cecily is interested in exploring the cultural and historical norms that contribute how societies develop their education systems. She is also interested in the role that the faculty of attention plays in developing empathy and how that might inform early years curricula.
Rob is a passionate educator originally from Cleveland, Ohio where he taught high school theology and philosophy for three years. He is ecstatic to join the Teachers College community to study the foundations of education and think more about where we are going next in the field of education. In 2018 he graduated from John Carroll University, just outside of Cleveland, with a Bachelors of Arts in Philosophy. With a background in philosophy for children, Rob hopes to explore further the role philosophy can play in the development of critical thinking and literacy skills. Ultimately, his goal while studying at TC is to further understand our current educational landscape and to begin to rethink how we might improve this environment for all students. A few questions he is thinking about right now are: What disadvantages and injustice exist in our system? What does an ethical, thriving learning environment look like as we move forward into an age of political unrest, technology, and artificial intelligence? What do we need to do to build an authentic educational environment that works for all students?
Siri Ranganath has a Bachelor of Science from New York University with a concentration in Finance and minors in Creative Writing and Spanish Literature. She also holds a MACTE diploma in Montessori education (0-3) from the Prepared Montessorian Institute. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of Arts in Philosophy and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University and a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education at the City College of New York. It is her deepest held conviction that as humans, our lives are defined by what we choose to inquire about, and if education is the key to enriching these inquiries, it has to be the key to enriching our lives.
Theseus has spent the past two decades working at a nonprofit youth organization, where he developed, implemented and managed comprehensive afterschool programs for elementary and middle school students in public schools throughout Manhattan. These programs supported learning goals in literacy, STEM and leadership development through project-based learning. He is currently building a new nonprofit organization that will work to support the social/emotional needs and mental wellness of children and teens.
Mahsa graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2018 with a B.A. in Literature and a minor in Philosophy. After graduation, she worked closely with students with learning disabilities at a learning center in Homewood, Alabama. When the learning center was shut down due to the pandemic, she found her way to NYC where she has since taught as both an Associate and Lead Elementary teacher. She is currently a full time 3rd Grade Associate Teacher at The School at Columbia University and is very excited to be a student again after a long hiatus. Through this program, she hopes to deepen her own philosophical thinking and better understand what it means to be an educator.
Emilia has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland-College Park. Her experiences with researching empathy in STEM education surprised her, resulting in a desire to pursue more philosophical questions about STEM and education. Emilia also currently teaches kindergarten and first grade Math full-time at a public charter school in the South Bronx.
Maryna graduated from CUNY Brooklyn College in December 2019 with a BA in Political Science and Philosophy. She concentrated on feminist political philosophy. Her current interests revolve around feminist epistemology, politics of education, ethics of education, and how these factors shape knowledge production. Combining her background in philosophy and her family's teaching experiences in the Soviet Union, Maryna seeks to gain a better understanding of diverse pedagogical approaches.
Chris is Master’s student in the Philosophy and Education program whose interests are in political and economic philosophy, critical theory, and the relationship between education, the state, and other sovereign institutions. After graduating from Carleton College with a degree in English, he taught middle school humanities for two years in two very different schools, one independent and the other a charter, and now plans to ground his experience in the classroom in the thought of a variety of philosophical traditions. Although he has yet to teach in a public school, he is searching for an answer to the question of what defines the “public” in public education. He is also interested in the ways dialectical thought and its expression in writing can engender critical thinking and deep engagement in his students. Chris’s call to teach is indebted to many of the teachers who guided him through his childhood, themselves graduates of Teachers College, who for him transformed learning into a nexus of love, wonder, creativity, and an appreciation for understanding. In following in their footsteps, he hopes to provide this same experience of education more broadly, not only for the students who enter his future classrooms, but also to strive for it to become a defining component of public education.
I am a first-year Master of Art student in the program. I was born and raised in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China. I graduated from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina in May 2021 with a BA in Philosophy and a minor in Interdisciplinary Humanities. I enjoy doing comparative philosophy between the East and West. I am also interested in higher education, especially the very idea of liberal arts education. My broad coursework and research in philosophy, education, and humanities gradually shaped my belief that there are common features underlying liberal arts education and the deep-rooted Confucian humanistic learning. Thus, I want to explore differences and similarities among philosophical foundations of education interculturally. Their shared aspiration to cultivate and to realize human flourishing in different ways is fascinating. Besides doing philosophy, I am also learning to be a gourmet, chef, and photographer.
Originally from London, Lauren graduated from Princeton University in 2015 with a B.A. in Philosophy and Neuroscience. After brief stints working in journalism and neuroscientific research, she spent 3 years in the classroom teaching elementary and middle school English. At TC she hopes to develop as a thinker and educator by exploring interests in meta-ethics, normative ethics, epistemology, pre-college philosophy, moral education, and literature as a tool for philosophical engagement.
Yasmina Ibrahim is an M.Ed student in the Philosophy and Education program. She earned her B.A. in Middle Eastern and Asian Cultures from Barnard College, Columbia University. As an undergraduate, she became interested in pre-modern conceptions and practices of education in the Middle East. Her senior thesis, which analyzes changes in pre-modern education in Egypt with the onset of capitalist modernity and state-sponsored schooling, cemented her passion for scholarship and education and eventually led her to Teachers College. Her current interests include moral education, critical pedagogy, and the teacher-student relationship.
Alaina graduated with a dual degree in Philosophy and Elementary Education from Salisbury University in 2018. While teaching at an elementary school in the Bronx, she completed a masters degree from UAlbany in Curriculum Design and Instructional Technology. She has engaged in Philosophy for/with Children as a discussion facilitator for a number of years and is interested in how this practice shapes students and teachers. A few other philosophical interests include social justice education, the nature of pedagogical relationships, and how metaphors are used in education.
Deirdre Black Rubin is a Ph.D. student in the Philosophy and Education program. She has a BA in Liberal Arts from Eugene Lang College, New School University, an MA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, an MA in Philosophy from Duquesne University, and an MAT in Literature Education from Bard College. Deirdre is certified to teach English Language Arts to students in grades 7-12 in New York and New Hampshire and has taught at The Langley School, Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, Horace Greeley High School, The Masters School, The College of New Rochelle, Iona College, Marist College, and Keene State College. She is a longtime reader of Kierkegaard and has held a desk as a guest researcher at the Soren Kierkegaard Research Center at The University of Copenhagen. Her current research centers on cinematic depictions of adolescent anxiety and despair.
Robert Blakslee received his BA from the University of Chicago in Philosophy and English, and his MAT from Relay Graduate School of Education in Secondary English Education. He taught as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Querétaro, Mexico before beginning his career teaching English at high schools in Massachusetts and New York. This fall marks his seventh year in the classroom, teaching 12th and 11th grade English in the Bronx. Robert plans to draw on his undergraduate work in philosophy of language to interrogate the ethical assumptions present in the way that English is taught in American high schools today.
Emy Cardoza is a Ph.D. student in the Philosophy and Education Program at Teachers College, where her research interests include critical race theory, higher education, and the concept of reconciliation. Prior to joining the TC community, Emy earned a Master of Divinity from the University of Chicago Divinity School, a Master of Education from Loyola University Chicago and a BA in Religious Studies from Rollins College. She currently serves as the Associate Dean for Student Life at Barnard College.
I got my Bachelors in Philosophy from Biola University. There, I also participated in the Torrey Honor's Institute Great Books program. I've been teaching for 2.5 years, and I am thrilled with M.A. program in Philosophy and Education.
Juan Antonio Casas is a Ph.D. student at the Philosophy and Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. He obtained his Law degree from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia, and an Ed.M. in Private School Leadership from the Klingenstein Center at Teachers College.
Born and raised in Bogotá, he moved from the practice of law to education as a middle and high school Social Sciences teacher at Gimnasio Campestre, a nationally-recognized K-12 boys school, where he taught for five years and served as Head of School from 2006 to 2017. His experience as a school leader and classroom teacher inform his research interests in moral development, curriculum design and school improvement.
Drew Chambers earned his B.A. in Secondary Education and English Literature at Wheaton College in Illinois and afterward taught public high school English in Massachusetts. In 2020, Drew completed his Ed.M. at Harvard University where he specialized in philosophy and data science. Drew’s scholarly interests relate to the ethics of student-teacher relationships, and his recent publications have dealt with topics such as school security, moral education, and critical pedagogy. His work has appeared in Educational Theory, Journal of Philosophy of Education, and on_education. When not reading or writing, he loves exploring the world with his wife, Kelly (a veterinarian), their dog, Paxton, and a Hasselblad camera around his neck.
Yuval Dwek is a Ph.D. student in the Philosophy & Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Yuval completed his B.A. in Philosophy and M.A. in Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His academic interests include civic education, political and social philosophy, philosophy of emotions, and moral psychology. He is passionate about the possibility of exploring new pedagogies and conceptual analysis in conflictual societies to cultivate democratic capacities and better civic dialogue.
Before starting his PhD in Philosophy and Education at Teachers College, Stefan earned his MA from the same program. He is primarily interested in American Pragmatism, particularly the work of Richard Rorty and John Dewey. Stefan is also interested in the teaching of ethics, and he regularly serves as a judge at the annual Long Island High School Ethics Bowl.
Nick teaches first year courses, philosophy, and humanities courses at Stella and Charles Guttman Community College, CUNY. His research looks at how public school teachers' critical relationship to the apparatus of teaching can facilitate a more open learning environment for their students. He enjoys the outdoors and lives in Brooklyn.
I got my B.A. in Philosophy from Universidad de Los Andes in 2014. I then taught high school philosophy, which is part of the Colombian curriculum, for five years. I am mainly interested in animal ethics in education, psychoanalysis, and teaching philosophy in schools.
Elias Hage is a third year Philosophy and Education Ph.D. student specializing in (early) phenomenology, hermeneutics, and 19 th -20 th century theories of social learning. He’s currently interested in questions pertaining to the experiences of self-identity and purpose and the role of mimesis in learning. Before this program, he earned an MA in Religious Education from Fordham University and an MPhil in Philosophy from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
Saori Hori is a fourth year PhD student interested in the connection between epistemology and ethics in the philosophy of education. In her doctoral research, she focuses on the role of "not-knowing" in the cultivation of personhood, reading Rousseau in dialogue with contemporary philosophers. She also works on related issues in moral psychology, social epistemology, and liberal education.
MA in Philosophy and Education (Teachers College, Columbia University); MA in Philosophy (Kyoto University); BA in Philosophy (University of Tokyo).
Vikramaditya (Vik) Joshi is a second-year doctoral student in the Philosophy and Education program. Before coming to Teachers College, Vik graduated from Bard College with a B.A in Philosophy and Literature. He then graduated from the University of East Anglia with an M.A in Biography and Creative Non-Fiction. He served as an academic advisor for the Bard Prison Initiative, a college-in-prison program. He held a fellowship at the Center for Justice at Columbia University and is currently part of the inaugural cohort of Fellows at the Gathering for Justice. He led the development of a curriculum on anti-Muslim bias, supported by EdVenture Partners, the McCain Institute, and the Department of Homeland Security, securing funding and the Invent2Prevent scholarship. He is working on a manuscript (biography) of a Professor at Bard who was a spy in the French Resistance. Vik’s research at TC is focused on the work of B.R Ambedkar, an architect of the Indian Constitution and, in 1913, a student at Columbia University under the tutelage of John Dewey.
Rashad Raymond Moore is a Ph.D. student in the Philosophy and Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Rashad is a graduate of Morehouse College with a B.A. in Philosophy, as well as Union Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity in Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary. His master thesis was titled, "Beating Back the Demons: The Role of Narratives, Rituals, and Sites of Memory in The Spelman College Experience.”
Rashad enjoys researching and writing on the philosophy of historically Black education, as well as concepts pertaining to joy, becoming, and imagination.
An ordained Baptist preacher, Rashad currently as Assistant Minister at The Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York.
As an Alaskan Athabaskan, Buddy has a deep connection to philosophy and education as a means to thrive. His work in virtue epistemology has lead him to philosophy of education, and to questions like: how is epistemic value related to moral and eudaimonic value? He has a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Alaska, and an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Victoria. Along with studying the love of wisdom, Buddy has worked as an outdoor educator in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, China, and throughout Alaska. He is an avid snowboarder, skateboarder, surfer, chess player, student of life, and is at Columbia University in the City of New York to study the axiology of education.
Sam Piede joins the program fresh from receiving her M.Ed. in English Education from Millersville University, focusing her research on the staging of absurdism in theatre post World War II. A teacher first and above all, Sam has served for ten years as the gifted coordinator for Elizabethtown Area High School in Elizabethtown, PA and instructed both the school's Inquiry Seminar and the AP Capstone courses (AP Seminar & AP Research). She also works as an academic dean for the Summer Institute for the Gifted. Sam is a staunch advocate for inquiry-based and democratic classroom models, and she is interested in exploring the epistemic and ethical underpinnings of high school language arts curriculum development, particularly in how students are exposed to research tasks. She is excited to have found a program and cohort that values exploring similar issues. When not teaching and learning, she enjoys rock climbing, reading science fiction, and indulging in/critiquing the works of her two favorite Johns (Dewey and Rawls).
Eileen Reuter graduated from Ave Maria University with a Bachelor's degree in Politics. She finished her Master's degree in Education from Rhode Island College while spending two years teaching with the Teach for America. She is currently a third year doctoral student in Philosophy and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Throughout her time there she has tutored middle school students and worked in administration at a charter school in the Bronx. She and her husband Chris are looking forward to the birth of their first child this spring.
Sulki Song is a Ph.D. Student in the Philosophy and Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She earned a B.A. in Education and M.A. in Philosophy of Education, both from Seoul National University, South Korea. Her master thesis was titled, “Education for the Formation of Self-Identity: Drawing upon Charles Taylor’s Concept of Authenticity.” She is deeply interested in answering the question philosophically: what does the education look like as a way of supporting human beings to live their own lives fully and freely? Her current research interests include identity formation, value education, character education, and the concept of understanding, especially during the school-ages years.
Rebecca Sullivan is a PhD student in the Philosophy and Education program. She earned her B.A. in Philosophy and English Literature from the University of Notre Dame. After working for a few years in the human service professions, she has returned to the formal study of philosophy to deepen her understanding of personhood and the intersection of philosophy and education that happens through everyday actions and encounters.
The title of her masters thesis was: "Bearing Witness to a Knowledge of Encounter: The Power of Perspective in Babette's Feast."
Prior to his arrival in New York City, Rory worked as a teacher at Scottsdale Preparatory Academy, a Great Books-based liberal arts school in Arizona. Before that, Rory earned a B.A. in American History and an M.A. in Political Theory, both from Arizona State University. Rory's time in the Sonoran was preceded by a deeply cherished period of immiseration, commonly called ‘youth,’ in the Appalachian backwoods of Western Pennsylvania.
Rory’s most salient philosophical, moral, and political commitments are to critical theory, integral theory, cosmopolitanism, and direct deliberative democracy. These commitments shape his feelings, thoughts, and actions in two important ways. First, these commitments mean that he seeks always to unite theory with practice, as beautifully summed up by Marx: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it." Second, these commitments mean that the end to which this union of theory and practice is directed, always, is human liberation—from hierarchy, oppression, injustice, false consciousness, and the illusion of the self, among other things. Through such emancipation can arise autonomy, actualization, and transcendence, and Rory believes that helping to realize these potentials for all persons, including oneself, should be the purpose of any compassionate life. This way of being is exemplified, in Rory’s opinion, by Nietzsche’s figure of Zarathustra, whom he therefore denies accordingly.
Kirsten Welch is a PhD student in the Philosophy and Education program. After earning her B.A. from Baylor University, where she focused her studies in classics and philosophy, Kirsten spent two years teaching elementary and middle school at a Great Hearts Academies campus in San Antonio, TX. Before beginning her doctoral studies, Kirsten earned an M.A. in Philosophy from Western Michigan University, where she also taught undergraduate philosophy courses. Her primary research interests integrate philosophical work in virtue ethics and epistemology with approaches to character education, especially education for moral and intellectual virtue. She is also interested in studying models of classical education.
Safiye Yigit graduated from the University of Houston in 2007, where she majored in Sociology and minored in Psychology. She also holds a Master of Arts in Philosophy from Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey. For her Master's thesis, she has written on “Curiosity as an Intellectual and Ethical Virtue” and has given numerous lectures and talks in Turkey, Italy, Netherlands, Slovenia, US, UK, and Poland on curiosity. From 2012 to 2015, she worked as a Researcher at Bogazici University as part of a research project entitled “Curiosity: Epistemics, Semantics, and Ethics” directed by Ilhan Inan. As part of the project, she organized an international conference gathering various notable philosophers working on curiosity and is the co-editor and a contributor of the book Moral Psychology of Curiosity (forthcoming in 2018, Rowman and Littlefield) that came out of a series of curiosity conferences that took place in Istanbul, Slovenia, and Washington. She is also contributing a chapter entitled “The Curious Case of Curiosity: A Virtue or a Vice?” to the forthcoming book Just Curious About Curiosity: Toward New Philosophical Explorations of the Epistemic Desire to Know. She has published articles in the Parmenideum Journal of Philosophy and the Croation Journal of Philosophy.
After studying virtue epistemology and intellectual virtues, she then became interested in the philosophy of education, and educating for intellectual virtues and wisdom. Currently, Safiye is continuing her studies as a doctoral candidate in Philosophy and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Last but not least, she is married and the mother of two boys: Selim and Halim.
Ting Zhao received her B.E. in Materials of Science and Engineering from Zhengzhou University, China. During her undergraduate period, she realized her love and passion for education. So after graduation, she went to Beijing Normal University to study the Foundation of Education and got a M.A. in education. There she developed a more systematical understanding of education as well as love for philosophy of education. Before coming to Teachers College, Columbia University, she went to the Ohio State University to study philosophy of education and got her second M.A. in education. She was enrolled in Philosophy and Education program in Fall 2017. Her current research interests include teacher education, Chinese traditional philosophy and education, the aesthetic education, and cosmopolitanism.
Xiaochen Zhao is a Ph.D. student in Philosophy and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She also has an Ed.M. from this program. Before joining TC, she earned her B.A. in English from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Her research interests include enchantment, thingness, temporality, affect theory, and how the related issues are discussed in the broader study of aesthetics, literature and education.
Program Director: David Hansen
Teachers College, Columbia University 334-A Horace Mann