W. John Koolage

A photo of W. John Koolage

Professor & Director of General Education

History and Philosophy; Environmental Science and Society (ENVI) Interdisciplinary Program

702M Pray Harrold


[email protected]


  • PhD, Philosophy, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2008
  • MA, Philosophy, University of Wisconsin, Madison, 2003
  • MA, Philosophy, University of Manitoba, 1999
  • BA, Philosophy and Psychology, University of Manitoba, 1995
  • BCom (Hons) in Finance, University of Manitoba, 1994

Interests and Expertise

Professor Koolage specializes in general philosophy of science and in the scholarship of teaching and learning. His primary focus is on (proper) scientific inferences and their limits. His secondary focus is on the (proper) construction of scientific theories. He is also interested in the philosophic assumptions and implications of several specific sciences, including psychology, cognitive science, biology, chemistry, and geology. His scholarship of teaching and learning is primarily directed at non-traditional learning activities and (general) assessment practices.

His teaching interests are broad, but he especially enjoys teaching general philosophy of science, philosophy of the life sciences, and introduction to philosophy. He also enjoys any and all opportunities to introduce students to philosophy and philosophical thinking.


  • PHIL 100 Introduction to Philosophy
  • PHIL 110 Philosophies of Life
  • PHIL 220 Ethics
  • PHIL 228 Global Ethics
  • PHIL 375 Metaphysics
  • PHIL 442/542 Philosophy of Mind
  • PHIL 471 Early Analytic Philosophy
  • PHIL 480/580 Philosophy of Science
  • PHIL 481/581 Philosophy of the Life Sciences
  • PHIL 602 Philosophy Teaching Practicum

Publications and Presentations

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Should You Be Wearing a Tinfoil Hat?“ (with Michael Goldsby), in Conspiracy Theories: Philosophers Connect the Dots, R. Greene & R. Robinson-Greene (Ed. S.), Open Court, 2020
  • "Undergraduate Conferences as High Impact Practices with an Impact on Gender Parity" (with Danielle Clevenger), Teaching Philosophy, Vol. 41, Issue 3, 2018
  • "Reasoning, Science, and The Ghost Hunt," (with Timothy Hansel), Teaching Philosophy, Vol. 40, No. 2, p 201
  • "Climate Modeling: Comments on Coincidence, Conspiracy, and Climate Change Denial," (with Michael Goldsby) Environmental Philosophy, Vol. 12, Issue 2, Fall 2015, p 221-252.
  • "Miraculous Consilience? Constraints on Formulations of the No Miracles Argument," European Scientific Journal, June 2015, Special Edition Vol. 2
  • "Affording Disaster: Concealed Carry on Campus," (with Jill Dieterle) Public Affairs Quarterly: Volume 28, No. 2, 2014, p 115.
  • "Chemical Action: What is it, and Why Does It Matter?" (with Ralph Hall) The Journal of Nanoparticle Research: Volume 13, Issue 4, 2011, p 1401.


  • Introduction to Philosophy: An Online Textbook, Great Rivers Learning, 2011


  • Realism and the Agreement of Independent Measurements

Recent Professional Presentations

  • “How to Make Your Research into Teaching and Your Teaching into Research” (with Danielle Clevenger), The AAPT-APA Teaching Hub, Chicago, IL, 2020
  • Comments on “Why Not Road Ethics?” by Meshi Ori, The Central APA, Chicago, IL, 2020
  • “Flatten That Hierarchy” Productive Conversations on Problematic Issues: Graduate Student Edition, The Central APA, Chicago, IL, 2020
  • “Best Principles and Practices in Assessment” (with Jenny Kindred), Assessment Institute, Eastern Michigan University, MI, 2019
  • “The Power of Pop-Up Learning Communities” (with Amy Johnson), The Great Lakes Regional Student Success Conference, Detroit, 2019
  • “Debunking the Dark Side of Academic Leadership” (with Lisa Hanasono and Leanne VandeCreek), MAC Academic Leadership Development Program Winter Workshop, Central Michigan University, 2019
  • “Epistemic Privilege and the Sciences,” Geology Reading Seminar, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI, 2018 (Invited Talk)
  • Panel participant for ““Is a Scientific Worldview at Odds with a Religious One? Part 2” (with Steven Backues, Rick Rogers, and Dave Pawlowski), Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI, 2018
  • “Engaging Global Climate Change via Pop-up Learning Community” (with Amy Johnson and Danielle Clevenger), Global Engagement and Spaces of Practice: Global Challenges across Disciplinary Boundaries, Association of American Colleges and Universities, Seattle WA, 2018
  • Panel participant for “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” (with Mike Goodier, Defne Apul, Todd Crail, and Tom Henry), University of Toledo, Toledo, OH, 2018
  • “The Power of Pop-Up Learning Communities for Addressing Climate Change Denial/Skepticism” (with Amy Johnson), EcoJustice and Activism, Ypsilanti, MI, 2018
  • “Cognition, College, and Guns,” McComb Community College sponsored by Macomb Multicultural International Initiative, 2018 (Invited Talk)
  • “The Sophia Project: An Experimental Co-Curriculum,” (with Danielle Clevenger, Taylor Chase, Lauren Williams, and Catrina Whitton) Great Lakes Regional Student Success Conference, 2018
  • “Who put the Students in Charge!?! The Sophia Project,” (with Dani Clevenger) AAPT’s Teaching Hub at the Eastern American Philosophy Association Conference, 2018
  • “Selective Realism: The Agreement of Independent Measurements,” Eastern Michigan University’s Philosophy Speakers Series, 2017
  • “Is a Scientific Worldview at Odds with a Religious One?” (with Steven Backues, Clay Carlson, Phil Schmitz, and Michael Scoville) Eastern Michigan University, 2017
  • “Can Computers Think?” Zion Lutheran Church, 2017 (Invited Talk)
  • “Teaching Through Culminating Events,” (with Dani Clevenger), National Association for Developmental Education, 2017
  • “The Sophia Project: An Experimental Curriculum,” (with Dani Clevenger, Taylor Chase, Lauren Williams, and Katherine Valek), [email protected]: Empowering Student Learners (2017)
  • “Using AAC&U's VALUE Rubrics to Design an NEH-funded General Education Course on Discovery” (with Darlene Leifson), (a) Great Lakes Regional Student Success Conference (2017); (b) AAC&U's General Education Assessment conference (2017)
  • "High Impact Practices, Culminating Events, and Student Learning” (with Dani Clevenger), Marygrove College (2017)
  • "Teaching through Culminating Events" (with Dani Clevenger), Regional Conference on Teaching Philosophy in the Michigan Area (2016)
  • "Assessing Undergraduate Research by way of Research Capstone Events: A Case with some Data" (with Dani Clevenger), Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Academy (2016)
  • "Enhancing Teaching and Research Practices through Informal Faculty Collaborations" (with Darlene Leifson), Student Success Conference (2016)
  • "Performing Faculty Stories: how to craft and use story as a teaching and learning tool" (with Jessica Alexander and Jennifer Kindred), Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Academy (2015)
  • "Epistemic Injustice and the Humanities" Youngstown State University's Eat, Think, Drink (2014)
  • "Unlearning and the One Minute Paper" Facilitators Training Seminar, American Association for Philosophy Teachers (2014)
  • Comments on "A Second Millian Account of the Desirability of Pleasure" by Andrew Sneddon, Pacific APA (2014)
  • "Climate Modeling: Comments on Coincidence, Conspiracy, and Climate Change Skepticism" International Social Philosophy Conference (2013)
  • Comments on "Responsibility and Implicit Bias" by Michael Brownstein, Pacific APA (2013)
  • "Exploring the Link Between Can and Should" Star Lecture Series, Eastern Michigan University (2012)
  • "Epistemic Injustice and the Humanities Classroom" International Social Philosophy Conference (2011)
  • "Mitigating Epistemic Injustice in the Humanities" Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Academy Conference (2011)
  • "Chemical Action: The Need to Determine if Nanoparticles work 'Chemically' or 'Physically'" Toward the Regulation of Nanomaterials, Notre Dame (2010) ONLINE


Current Advisees
  • Lauren Williams 
  • Cristobal Arellano
  • Bob Roggenbuck
Graduated Advisees
  • Collin Lucken, Capstone: "From Ancient Shamans to Cybernetic Lungs: How Heuristic Theory Construction Pervades the Messy Sciences." After EMU graduation: University of Cincinnati, PhD program.
  • Carl Wauer, Capstone: "Guided Passage: Planned Deviated Expert Judgment Model for Traditional Non-rational and Intuitive Modes of Thought." After EMU graduation: Associate Banker at Quicken Loans.
  • Ryan Lemasters. Capstone: "Religion Beyond the Brain: Liberating the Cognitive Science of Religion from its Canon." After EMU graduation: Western Michigan University, Religious Studies MA program.
  • Morgen Barroso. Capstone: "A Bloody Mess: A Practical Application of Longino’s Science as Social Knowledge to Forensic Science." After EMU graduations: University of Connecticut School of Law, JD program.
  • Danielle Clevenger. Capstone: "The Sophia Project: Philosophy Outside the Ivory Tower." After EMU graduation: University of Wisconsin - Madison, PhD program.

Grants, Honors and Awards

  • Thank-an-Eagle award, 2019
  • Thank-a-Teacher award, 2017
  • NEH grant recipient, 2016
  • Student Success Network Award, 2011
  • Eastern Michigan University's Ronald W. Collins Distinguished Faculty Teaching I Award, 2011