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 and feminist philosophy of science and in the scholarship of teaching and learning. The central focus of his work is the epistemology of scientific theories, research programs, and communities. His connection to the sciences is mainly through psychology and cognitive science. 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 601 First Year Seminar
  • PHIL 602 Philosophy Teaching Practicum

Publications and Presentations

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Flatten That Heirarchy: Everyone wins when we all teach (and learn) together,” in The Art of Teaching Philosophy, Brynn Welch (Ed.), Bloomsbury, forthcoming
  • “Leadership Doesn’t Have to Be Lonely: Building Community through Cowriting” (with Mary-Jon Ludy, Lisa Hanasono, Elise Radina, Jerry Schnepp, and Jolie Sheffer), The Department Chair: A Resource for Academic Administrators, Fall 2023, Volume 34(2)
  • “Addressing the Deep Roots of Epistemological Extremism,” (with Natalie Anderson), Teaching Philosophy, 2023, Volume 46(3)
  • “Pieces of the Puzzle: The Importance of Shared Governance,” (with Jolie Sheffer, Lisa Hanasonon, Charles Kanwischer, Mary-Jon Ludy, Laura Landry-Meyer, Ekaterina Noyes, Elise Radina, and Jerry Schnepp), Liberal Education, Winter 2022
  • “An Infrastructural Account of Scientific Objectivity for Legal Contexts and Bloodstain Pattern Analysis,” (with Lauren Williams and Morgen Barosso), Science in Context, , Vol. 34, Issue 1, 2022, p 101
  • “Introduction”, Field Guide to Animal Adaptation by Lee Fearnside, Chimera Projects, 2020
  • “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

  • “Everybody wins when we flatten the hierarchy,” The Art of Teaching Philosophy book panel, Cogteacho, 2023
  • “Self-Evaluation and First Year Meeting for Graduate Students: Intervention and Assessment” (with Laura McMahon), AAPT-APA Teaching Hub, Chicago, IL, 2022
  • “The World is Ending, Wanna Be My Friend? Critical Friends, Belonging, and the SoTL Community” (with Cam McComb, Cynthia Macknish, Dyann Logwood, Adam Bogedain, Michael Foster, and Kelsey Decamillis), CONNECT Teaching Conference, 2022
  • “Zoom and the One Minute Paper… like Chocolate and Peanut Butter” (with Lauren Williams), Great Lakes Regional Student Success Conference, Virtual, 2021
  • “Institutional Engagement Success Necessitates Removing Promotion Silos” (with David Still and Maurice Collins), Great Lakes Regional Student Success Conference, Virtual, 2021
  • “Every Course, Every Outcome! Developing a Comprehensive General Education Assessment Program” (with Stephanie Casey and Laura McMahon), AAC&U Conference on General Education, Pedagogy, and Assessment, Virtual Learning Experience, 2021
  • “Engaging our Local Campuses and Community through Integrating Higher Impact Practices into a Signature Learning Arc” (with Amy Johnson, Rita Shah, and Christine Deacons), AAC&U Conference on General Education, Pedagogy, and Assessment, Virtual Learning Experience, 2021
  • “Integrating High Impact Practices into a Signature Learning Arc” (with Amy Johnson, Dave Pawlowski, Rita Shah, and Christine Deacons), Great Lakes Regional Student Success Conference, Virtual, 2021
  • “Zoom and the One Minute Paper… like Chocolate and Peanut Butter” (with Lauren Williams), Great Lakes Regional Student Success Conference, Virtual, 2021
  • “Collaborative Leadership in a Time of Crisis” (with Mary-Jon Ludy, Charile Kanwischer, Elise Radina, Sheila Roberts, Laura Landry-Meyer, Lisa Hanasono, and Jolie Sheffer), Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, 2020
  • “Institutional Engagement: Success Necessitates Removing Promotion Silos” (with Maurice Collins), Agricultural Research Institute, The California State University, Long Beach, CA, 2020
  • “Pedagogies for Teaching Philosophy Online” (with Andrew Cullison and Rebecca Scott), APA Webinar Series, 2020
  • “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

Other Persistent Philosophical Work 


Current Advisees

  • Josh Hunt

Graduated Advisees

  • Natalie Anderson, "Ingrouping Students to Improve Pedagogy." After EMU graduation: University of Minnesota, PhD Program
  • Kennedy DeFrancesco, "An Examination of the Relative Epistemic Superiority of Global Feminisms." After EMU graduation: University of Detroit Mercy Law School.
  • Joah DeCasas, "Epistemic Virtues and Professionalized Science’s Vulnerability to the Problem of Unconceived Alternatives."
  • Mac Neaville, "Clarifying Informational Structures and Structural Implications of Implicit Bias." After EMU graduation: Arizona State University, PhD program.
  • Lauren Williams, "Shifting Conceptions of Dependency." After EMU graduation: EMU Lecturer in Philosophy.
  • Cristobal Arellano Borges, "Beyond the Armchair and Into the Field: An Inquiry into the Role of Philosophy in Ecology, and the Upshot of a More Inclusive Epistemic Tool Kit." After EMU graduation: Michigan State University, PhD program.
  • Collin Lucken, "From Ancient Shamans to Cybernetic Lungs: How Heuristic Theory Construction Pervades the Messy Sciences." After EMU graduation: University of Cincinnati, PhD program.
  • Carl Wauer, "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, "Religion Beyond the Brain: Liberating the Cognitive Science of Religion from its Canon." After EMU graduation: The University of Kansas, PhD program.
  • Morgen Barroso, "A Bloody Mess: A Practical Application of Longino’s Science as Social Knowledge to Forensic Science." After EMU graduation: University of Connecticut School of Law, JD program.
  • Danielle Clevenger, "The Sophia Project: Philosophy Outside the Ivory Tower." After EMU graduation: University of Wisconsin - Madison, PhD program.

Grants, Honors and Awards

  • Bringing Theory to Practice grant recipient, 2018 and 2020
  • Thank-an-Eagle award, 2017, 2019, and 2023
  • NEH grant recipient, 2016
  • Student Success Network Award, 2011
  • Eastern Michigan University's Ronald W. Collins Distinguished Faculty Teaching I Award, 2011