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Environmental Philosophy and Ethics expert joins SCU

Dill brings her style of interdisciplinary teaching and research to the Philosophy Department

Dill brings her style of interdisciplinary teaching and research to the Philosophy Department

By Ally O’Connor ’20

Bringing her skills in psychology, aesthetics, and multicultural and comparative philosophies to Santa Clara University, Assistant Professor Kimberly Dill joined the Department of Philosophy at the start of the 2019-20 academic year and has since imparted her interests to students all while focusing intently on her own research in biodiversity.

After earning her B.A. in Philosophy at the University of Utah, MLitt (Scottish equivalent to an M.A.) in Philosophy at the University of St. Andrews, and Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, Dill found an interest in SCU due to its core commitments, including “a focus on social justice, multicultural learning, the value of spirituality, beauty, and support for interdisciplinary collaboration.”

This Winter, Dill is currently teaching courses titled “Ethics and the Environment” and “Culture and Ideas II: Philosophy, Society, and Culture.” In terms of how she structures her classes, Dill shares that “I often teach courses that integrate a variety of subjects—from Buddhist and Hindu texts, to empirical studies conducted in psychology and the environmental sciences.  I weave these varied traditions together into a cohesive philosophical investigation by ensuring that each class is driven by one central question. For example, what is human nature?”

In addition to her teaching, since she arrived on campus, Dill has focused on studying the relationships between human beings and more-than-human entities and environments. “The preponderance of mental illnesses suffered by urban populations is due in large part to a cultural and physical disconnect between people and the land on which they dwell,” she says. “The overarching view that I defend is that we have an ethical obligation to conserve [such things as] biodiverse spaces and starry night skies.  This, I think, is best done by cultivating reciprocally beneficial ecological relationships with more-than-human entities and environments.”

Going forward, Dill notes that she is especially excited to bring her research and course topics together in engagements with the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and the Forge Garden, “in order to participate in initiatives that bring a deeper awareness to the intimate connection between mental health and the preservation of [such things as] biodiversity."

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