Heather Douglas (dougl239@msu.edu) is an Associate Professor in MSU’s Department of Philosophy.  Her research focuses on the relationship between science and democracy, including the role of social and ethical values in science, the nature of scientists’ responsibility in and for science, and science-policy interfaces such as science advising, science funding, and science communication.  She is interested in how citizens can and should interact with science, including the bases for citizens’ trust in scientists, and had a particular interest in the use of science for environmental policy-making and in energy policy.  She is the author of many articles, edited collections, and her monograph Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009).  She has also taught environmental ethics for many years, and as a result of this, has put together a textbook, Environmental Ethics from the Roots Up (Cognella Press 2016), which is geared towards non-philosophers interested in environmental issues. In 2016, she was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Kevin Elliott (kce@msu.edu) is Professor in Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Fisheries & Wildlife at MSU with a secondary appointment in the Department of Philosophy. He is affiliated faculty in the Environmental Science & Policy Program. His research interests are at the interface between the philosophy of science and practical ethics, focusing especially on environmental issues and research ethics. Many of the case studies that he has examined involve contemporary research on environmental pollution, including endocrine disruption, nanotechnology, multiple chemical sensitivity, and hormesis. His latest book, A Tapestry of Values: An Introduction to Values in Science was released in 2017 by Oxford University Press. He is published in journals such as Ethics, Policy & Environment; Environmental Ethics; Science, Technology & Human Values; Accountability in Research; Science and Engineering Ethics; Philosophy of Science; Studies in History and Philosophy of Science; History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences; Cell; Human and Experimental Toxicology; and Environmental Science and Technology.


Matt Ferkany (ferkany@msu.edu) is an Associate Professor in Philosophy at Michigan State University. His teaching and scholarship focus on normative ethical problems relating to moral education, well-being and virtue and environmental ethics and education. Ferkany is especially interested in the relationship between virtue, moral principles, and our good, and what that means for how we can learn to be or become good people, especially in our relationship to the natural environment. He is currently working on a book about ethics in science and environmental education. But he has also published work on the sense of self-worth and the importance of fostering self-esteem relative to other aims of education. Ferkany’s work has been published in journals like Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, Environmental Values, Theory and Research in Education, Journal of Philosophy of Education, Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics.

A white man with brown hair, a trim beard, and glasses smiles at the camera

Michael O’Rourke (orourk51@msu.edu) is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy and AgBioResearch at MSU, and affiliated faculty in the Environmental Science & Policy Program. He is also the Director of the Center for Interdisciplinarity (http://c4i.msu.edu/), Director of the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative (TDI, http://tdi.msu.edu/), and the Executive Director of the TDI Center. His research interests include the nature of epistemic integration and communication in collaborative, cross-disciplinary research and the nature of linguistic communication between intelligent agents. He has been PI or co-PI on grants funded by the US National Science Foundation, NASA, Office of Naval Research, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. From 1998 to 2010, he served as co-director of the Inland Northwest Philosophy Conference, and he was co-editor of the Topics in Contemporary Philosophy series published by the MIT Press. He has published in journals such as SyntheseBiosciencePhilosophy of Science, Journal of Clinical and Translational Science, and Journal of Philosophy.

Sean Valles (valles@msu.edu) is an Associate Professor, joint appointed in the Lyman Briggs College (75%) and Department of Philosophy (25%). His research specialty is in philosophy of population health. His work overlaps with environmental in three particular areas. First, he has begun publishing on the topic of the bioethics of climate change’s health impacts. Second, he is collaborating with Michael O’Rourke, Kyle Whyte and Zach Piso on an NSF ethics education grant, developing an ethics curriculum for interdisciplinary environmental science graduate students. Third, he is working on a history project about population control advocacy and its relationship to conservationism. Dr. Valles’ articles have appeared in journals such as Preventive MedicinePhilosophy & BiologyStudies in History & Philosophy of Biological & Biomedical Sciences, and Perspectives in Biology and Medicine.

A white woman in a blue shirt smiles at the camera.

Gretel Van Wieren (vanwie12@msu.edu) is Professor of Religious Studies where her courses and research focus on the intersection of religion, ethics, and the environment. She is author of the books, Listening at Lookout Creek: Nature in Spiritual Practice (Oregon State University Press, 2019), Food, Farming and Religion: Emerging Ethical Perspectives (Routledge, 2018) and Restored to Earth: Christianity, Environmental Ethics, and Ecological Restoration (Georgetown University Press, 2013). Van Wieren’s articles have appeared in the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture and Ecology, Conservation Biology, Environmental Ethics, and the Public Philosophy Journal among others. She is recipient of a 2016 Mellon Foundation/Humanities Without Walls grant on the New Ethics of Food, and a 2015 H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest writing residency. Van Wieren is founder of The New Ethics of Food Network, a network of university and community-based partners committed to research and dialogue around a broadened understanding of food ethics, and is a regular contributor to the City Creature’s blog of the Center for Humans & Nature. She co-leads MSU’s Hawaii Study Away Program and the Department of Religious Studies Nonprofit Leadership Concentration. She received a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University.

White man with gray hair and a white beard looks toward the camera. He wears a white and gray flannel shirt and glasses.

Paul B. Thompson (thomp649@msu.edu) held the W.K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University from 2003 until 2022. As of the 2022-2023 academic year, he is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Philosophy. Thompson has worked on four problems in environmental philosophy. His dissertation on the philosophy and evaluation of environmental and health risk, especially as deriving nuclear power, set the stage for career-long studies of risk analysis, risk communication and the metaphysics of risk. After doing work on the risks of genetically engineered crops, he developed an abiding interest in the role and philosophy of agriculture as a neglected orientation to the problems of environmental philosophy. From Field to Fork: Food Ethics for Everyone (2015) won the Book-of-the-Year award from the North American Society for Social Philosophy. Thompson has also contributed to the philosophy of sustainability, a project linked to his interest in public philosophy, with books including The Agrarian Vision: Sustainability and Environmental Ethics (2010) and Sustainability—What Everyone Needs to Know (2021). Finally, he has worked closely with cognitive ethologists on standards for improvement of the conditions in which animals are housed, especially in agricultural production systems.