Lisa Heldke ’82Alumni and Faculty

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

(Access some of my research Lisa Heldke on ResearchGate">here.)

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-105 School and Society 17 2023/FA, 2021/SP, 2015/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-202 Modern Philosophy 16 2024/SP, 2023/SP, 2022/SP, 2016/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-233 American Philosophy 10 2021/FA, 2019/FA, 2015/FA, 2014/FA, 2012/FA, 2008/FA, 2006/FA, 2005/FA, 2003/FA, and 1999/FA
PHI-248 Gender Reality 9 2021/FA, 2016/SP, 2014/SP, 2013/SP, 2011/SP, 2009/SP, 2007/SP, 2003/SP, and 2001/SP
PHI-371 Sem: Food and Eating 7 2022/FA, 2015/FA, 2015/SP, 2012/SP, 2006/SP, 2004/SP, and 2000/SP
PHI-102 Racism and Sexism 5 2008/SP, 2006/SP, 2003/SP, 2001/SP, and 2000/SP
PHI-115 Formal Logic 5 2004/SP, 2004/JN, 2000/FA, 2000/SP, and 1999/SP
CUR-120 Individual and Morality 4 2020/SP and 2015/SP
PHI-241 Aesthetics 3 2022/FA, 2021/SP, and 2019/SP
PHI-370 Sem:Eating 3 2018/FA, 2009/FA, and 2007/FA
PHI-236 Formal Logic 3 2014/FA, 2011/FA, and 2011/SP
PHI-399 Colloquium 3 2009/SP, 2004/FA, and 2000/FA
FTS-100 First Term Seminar 3 2003/FA, 2002/FA, and 1999/FA
GWS-248 Gender Reality 2 2021/FA and 2016/SP
CUR-399 Senior Seminar 2 2014/SP and 2013/FA
CUR-210 Individual and Society 2 2007/FA and 2006/FA
NDL-291 IS:Nobel Conference Liaison 1 2024/SP
IDS-291 IS: Nobel Student Host 1 2024/SP
PHI-298 Challenge Seminar: Food/Eating 1 2023/FA
PHI-209 Philosophy of Environment 1 2020/FA
EDU-244 ST:Nobel Conference 1 2020/SP
PHI-290 Philosophical Methods 1 2019/SP
GWS-380 Coll:Beyond Binarism 1 2013/FA
PHI-244 ST:Philosophy of Food 1 2013/SP
PHI-210 Commodity Culture 1 2006/JN
WOM-260 Feminist Theories 1 2005/FA
NDL-224 Just Food 1 2003/JN
WOM-236 Theories of Transgender 1 2000/JN
NDL-344 Special Topics 1 1999/SP
Courses prior to Spring semester 1999 are not displayed.