Profile of Kenneth Maly, Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies, UW-La Crosse (Oct 7, 2005)

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Profile of
Kenneth Maly
Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies,
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

2005 Regents Teaching Excellence Award Recipient

Background and Experience (Selected)

  • Joined the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse faculty in 1979; promoted to full Professor in 1983.
  • Ph.D. in Philosophy from Duquesne University; post-doctoral work at the University of Freiburg, Germany.
  • Has taught 28 new courses in 26 years at UW-La Crosse!
  • Teaching innovations include: the creation and coordination of the interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Minor; active infusion of multiculturalism into his courses and curricula; and team-teaching with many UW-La Crosse colleagues, including faculty from English, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Sociology, Recreation Management, Forestry and others.
  • Capstone course for Environmental Studies places students in agencies or organizations that deal with environmental problems from an interdisciplinary perspective.
  • Requirements for his course on Existentialism include writing a book over the course of the semester, a project that students find daunting but exhilarating in the end.
  • Convened campus-community learning community on Decisions in an Environmental Crisis - Applied Ethics.
  • Organizer of two campus-community lecture series, Forum for Environmental and Earth Issues and UW-L Phenomenology Conference Lecture Series:  Voices at the Edge.
  • Active scholarship:  Co-Editor of the journal Heidegger Studies; Editor of the journal Environmental Philosophy; General Editor of the UW Press Book Series New Studies in Phenomenology and Hermeneutics.

In Professor Maly's own words:

  • "You may not know that some of your sons and daughters re-use their socks and turn their underwear inside out, instead of doing laundry.  And they don't change their sheets-an unnecessary diversion in their lives, they tell me. You may not know that some of them have skipped classes. You probably do not know how they actually spent the money that you gave them.  You may not know that much of your kid's college education took place outside the classroom, in their social life, in the serious doubts and questions that they have asked, and in embracing the loneliness that some of them experience. .  . . And so, from our dedication and from our joy in having this chance to work with and guide young minds, we hope that your joyful, blessed, and successful college graduates have truly received a liberal education. Liberal education liberates from as well as for. Liberating you and us from being trapped ignorance and prejudice. Liberating you and us for literacy and responsibility, to our society and above all to the environment, to the earth and to re-achieving a balance in nature."
    • Faculty Congratulatory Remarks Delivered to College of Liberal Studies and College of Business Administration Graduates and their Families, December, 2002

In the words of his students:

  • "Dr. Maly grounds the basic questions of philosophy for students by weaving into courses interdisciplinary content at a personal, regional, and global level.  This interdisciplinary approach enables students to grasp esoteric philosophical concepts and understand the relevance philosophy has in day-to-day life . . . . As he does with all his students, Dr. Maly challenged me (and continues to challenge me) to stay attentive and vigilant to not only my inner life but also the unfolding world around me."
    • Kirk Messer, Philosophy Graduate, Associate Director, Office of Graduate Admissions, Cardinal Stritch University
  • "The History of Ancient Philosophy course was the single best course I ever took in my entire college career, undergraduate or graduate.  Why do I say that?  [Professor Maly] did not just impart information about the Greek thinkers, along with various philosophical skills.  He invited and provoked us to think, to attempt to uncover the hidden depths in the texts and questions of ancient philosophy."
    • Gail Stenstad, 1984 B.A. in Philosophy, Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Humanities, East Tennessee State University

In the words of his colleagues:

  • "As a classroom teacher, Dr. Maly is simply a master teacher.  He has always been deeply concerned about student learning and continues year after year to generate great excitement as well as significant learning in the classroom.  He is continually refreshing his class syllabi, his presentations, the assignments he makes, the varied ways that he gets students to interact in and out of the classroom and with philosophy.  He draws on an enormous range of non-traditional sources in very creative ways to get serious philosophical reflection from his students.  His use of literature, poetry, biography, history, and social commentary as tools for generating philosophical reflection is truly remarkable.  He puts great energy and joy into his teaching and strives extremely hard to generate both creativity and critical thinking in his students.  His efforts get through to students. . . . In addition, (. . .) Dr. Maly's single greatest contribution to curriculum development at UW-L has been his tireless work to create, direct, and sustain a thriving new minor, Environmental Studies."
    • Eric Kraemer, Professor and Chair, Department of Philosophy , UW-La Crosse
  • "Over the years, I have audited courses of a dozen or so of my colleagues who had a reputation for excellence.  I took two of Ken's courses, attending every lecture.  He was probably the best teacher I've ever seen.  He never compromised on the content of the material, and yet he brought his eager and intellectually engaged students with him as he explored the most difficult of ideas and the deepest thinking of all the great philosophers back through history.  He had the students embark on an intellectual journey with him as guide, but as a guide excited anew by all the thinkers he was encountering hand-in-hand with his classroom of young scholars."
    • William E. Pemberton, Professor of History Emeritus, UW-La Crosse


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