Kara Barnette ’05


Visiting Assistant Professor at Gustavus Adolphus College

I became interested in philosophy in high school as a member of my debate team. It did not take long for me to realize that even though I loved arguing (and still do) I was far more interested in arguing about the philosophy behind the topics than the actual debate topics themselves. I came to Gustavus as an undergraduate and quickly declared my major. Along the way, I fell head over heels for American pragmatism when I took American Philosophy with Lisa Heldke.

Since that time, I moved on to graduate school at the University of Oregon, earning my MA and my PhD. There, I combined my interests in classical American philosophy with a focus on feminist philosophy, eventually writing my dissertation on Josiah Royce’s concept of error and arguing for its inclusion into theories of feminist epistemology. While writing my dissertation, I received the amazing opportunity to return to Gustavus to teach Philosophy and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies.

My current research focuses on questions of how we make inquiries within communities and how the ways in which we come to know things affects our relationships to structures of oppression and privilege. For example, I look at questions like “how is the knowledge we trust as factual developed in relationship to assumptions about gender and race?” “How do some communities justify their own privilege by maintaining strategic ignorance about the lives of others?” And, “how can communities develop communal ways of inquiring into specific instances in such a way that they can overcome oppression?”  In short, I am interested in how developing methods of communal inquiry can reveal structures of privilege, undermine systems of power, and lead to less oppressive societies. In this vein, my research focuses on questions of gender, race, social and political philosophy, ethics, and epistemology.

I have taught multiple upper level courses relating to issues of power and knowing and the mid-level course American Philosophy. I enjoy teaching these courses as well as just about anything related to Philosophy or Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies.  In particular, I love courses that combine traditional philosophy with contemporary concerns, such as Environmental Philosophy, Ethical Theory and Applied Ethics, Racism and Sexism, and Feminist Philosophy. I also regularly teach a January Term course entitled the Philosophy of Love and Sex which explores the roles of love and sex in the development of the self, the role of sexuality and sexual identity in our ideas of what it means to be human, and the role of love in creating communities that can overcome tragedy.


Courses Taught

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
PHI-109Philosophy of Environment42013/SP and 2011/SP
PHI-102Racism and Sexism42012/SP and 2010/SP
GWS-118Feminist Controversies22013/SP and 2012/SP
PHI-247Applied Ethics22012/FA and 2010/SP
PHI-225Philosophy Love & Sex22012/JN and 2011/JN
PHI-104The Individual and Community12012/FA
PHI-246Ethical Theory12011/FA
GWS-260Global Feminisms12011/FA
PHI-371Sem:Fem Epistemology12010/FA
PHI-105School and Society12010/FA
PHI-233American Philosophy12010/FA