Lisa Heldke ’82

Alumni and Faculty

Professor in Philosophy, Affiliated faculty in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies, and Director in Nobel Conference

When I first began studying philosophy, many nights found me sleepless in St. Peter, worrying about how I knew for certain that the world as I experienced it really existed or not. Years later, I sleep a bit more soundly, but I'm still worrying about many of the same questions about the nature of knowing, the nature of truth, and the nature of reality. I explore these with students in my courses in Modern Philosophy and American Philosophy. (Does that tree falling alone in the forest make a sound or not?) I've written about some of these questions in articles such as "Objectivity as Responsibility" and "Interaction in a World of Chance." 

I am also compelled by questions about the nature of justice, about oppression and resistance, and about human liberation, particularly as they concern racism, sexism and heterosexism. Much of my published work addresses issues about oppression, including papers such as "Dear Kate Bornstein," and "Do You Mind if I Speak Freely?" With Peg O'Connor, I coedited an anthology called Oppression, Privilege and Resistance; it's the backbone of a course I teach called "Racism and Sexism." I also teach courses on Feminist Philosophy, and Critical Race Theory.

My interests in questions of justice and questions of knowing come together, in a sense, in my introductory course, School and Society. Here, we explore what it means to use education as a tool for creating and advancing democratic community. My articles "How Practical is John Dewey?" and "A DuBoisean Proposal for Persistently White Colleges" represent my own philosophizing in this area.

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, I am committed to exploring the philosophical significance of food, a topic about which philosophers historically have had very little to say. I've published numerous articles, as well as four (authored or co-edited) books, including Exotic Appetites: Ruminations of a Food Adventurer and Philosophers at Table: On Food and Being HumanI am on the editorial board  for The Encyclopedia of Food and Agriculture Ethics, published by Springer Publishing.

My current research is exploring the ways in which our philosophical categories are transformed when we take seriously the prevalence of parasitism, mutualism, and other kinds of "chomping" relationships in the world of living things. I'm trying to decide whether to call the essays "Stuck on You," or "It's Chomping All the Way Down."

When I'm not writing about food, I love eating it, or cooking it; I'm particularly passionate about baking bread and cookies, and making pizza and soup. With friends, I constructed a mud oven in the back yard. There's nothing more fun than building a fire in order to bake your own bread!

Summers might find me on the coast of Maine, writing, kayaking, and learning about edible mushrooms, or in St. Peter, baking and learning about local organic and sustainable agriculture. I "ghost facebook" about a century farm in Le Sueur. (Look for Whole NHOats or Pig in the Patch on FB.)


B.A. Gustavus Adolphus College (Music, Philosophy), M.A. and Ph.D. Northwestern University

Courses Taught

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
PHI-105School and Society152015/FA, 2014/FA, 2013/FA, 2012/FA, 2011/FA, 2009/FA, 2008/FA, 2005/FA, 2004/FA, 2003/FA, 2002/FA, 2000/FA, and 1999/FA
PHI-202Modern Philosophy132016/SP, 2015/SP, 2014/SP, 2013/SP, 2012/SP, 2011/SP, 2008/SP, 2007/SP, 2006/SP, 2004/SP, 2003/SP, 2001/SP, and 1999/SP
PHI-248GenderKnowledgeReality82016/SP, 2014/SP, 2013/SP, 2011/SP, 2009/SP, 2007/SP, 2003/SP, and 2001/SP
PHI-233American Philosophy82015/FA, 2014/FA, 2012/FA, 2008/FA, 2006/FA, 2005/FA, 2003/FA, and 1999/FA
PHI-371Sem:Philosophy & Race62015/FA, 2015/SP, 2012/SP, 2006/SP, 2004/SP, and 2000/SP
PHI-102Racism and Sexism52008/SP, 2006/SP, 2003/SP, 2001/SP, and 2000/SP
PHI-115Formal Logic52004/SP, 2004/JN, 2000/FA, 2000/SP, and 1999/SP
PHI-236Formal Logic32014/FA, 2011/FA, and 2011/SP
PHI-399Colloquium32009/SP, 2004/FA, and 2000/FA
FTS-100First Term Seminar32003/FA, 2002/FA, and 1999/FA
CUR-120Individual and Morality22015/SP
CUR-399Senior Seminar22014/SP and 2013/FA
PHI-370Seminar: William James22009/FA and 2007/FA
CUR-210Individual and Society22007/FA and 2006/FA
GWS-380Coll:Beyond Binarism12013/FA
PHI-244ST:Philosophy of Food12013/SP
PHI-210Commodity Culture12006/JN
WOM-260Feminist Theories12005/FA
NDL-224Just Food12003/JN
WOM-236Theories of Transgender12000/JN
NDL-344Special Topics11999/SP

Courses prior to Spring semester 1999 are not displayed.