Philosopher Heather Lakey, Ph.D., brings experience in education, a passion for learning, and an ...Philosopher Heather Lakey, Ph.D., brings experience in education, a passion for learning, and an interdisciplinary approach to her position as a permanent faculty member of College of the Atlantic.

College of the Atlantic is pleased to announce the appointment of philosopher Heather Lakey, Ph.D. to the permanent faculty.

Lakey’s work focuses on ethics, feminist philosophy, and the intersection between thought processes and socio-political issues. She examines ethical models of discourse and decision making, and espouses using philosophy as a way to slow down, think through one’s own experiences, and recognize the ideas that shape one’s own thinking.

College of the Atlantic philosophy professor Heather Lakey teaching a class in the COA Thorndike ...College of the Atlantic philosophy professor Heather Lakey teaching a class in the COA Thorndike Library reading room during the 2020 fall term.Lakey is the product of an interdisciplinary, experiential education, receiving her BA and MPhil in human ecology from COA. After earning an MA in philosophy from the University of Oregon, she completed her doctoral studies at University of Maine.

Lakey has taught as an adjunct and lecturer at both UMaine and COA. Philosophy plays an important role in COA’s human ecological pedagogy, she said, as a tool that benefits students from a variety of backgrounds and self-designed paths of study.

“Whatever you’re studying, learning how to ask questions and how to pose clear accessible answers is really important, and the practice of philosophy does that,” she said. “Philosophy is not intimidated by disciplinary bounds.”

Lakey said she is energized by teaching and always learns new things in the process. She uses her classes as a forum for students to learn how to debate and discuss complex topics, and to learn how to form dialogues with people they disagree with, which she believes is crucial to a human-ecological education.

“We are delighted to add Dr. Heather Lakey to our full-time faculty. She is exactly the right person to fill this role at COA, bringing a wealth of teaching experience, a Dr. Heather Lakey deals with complex social and ethical issues in her article, “Appropriations ...Dr. Heather Lakey deals with complex social and ethical issues in her article, “Appropriations of Informed Consent: Abortion, Medical Decision Making, And Antiabortion Rhetoric,” published in the Spring 2018 issue of International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, 2020 University of Toronto Press.depth and breadth of knowledge in philosophy, and a solid foundation in human ecology,” said COA Provost Ken Hill. “Dr. Lakey will serve as a role model to our transdisciplinary teaching approach.”

Lakey spent her undergraduate years at COA taking classes in many different areas of study and eventually found her home in philosophy during her senior year. Longtime COA professor of philosophy John Visvader, whose position Lakey is taking following his recent retirement, suggested she return for graduate school to continue working on her ideas, and that’s just what she did, she said.

“I really enjoyed being an undergraduate student at COA, so it felt like graduation came too soon,” she said.

Lakey returned to work with Visvader to explore the writings of philosophers Aristotle and Ludwig Wittgenstein in terms of what they had to offer to human ecologists. Her master’s thesis at COA, “Exploring the Ordinary,” discusses how Aristotle’s methodologies can offer helpful guidance to think human ecologically.

As a COA lecturer, Lakey has taught courses such as Philosophy of Good and Evil, Philosophy of Death and Dying, and Problems and Dilemmas in Bioethics.

“Working with students is really exciting because you can read the same essay multiple times over and go in and discuss it with a new group and everyone just sees things differently,” she said. “COA students keep philosophical questions grounded in specific issues. They are so curious, engaged and excited, and those are the baseline conditions you need to have productive philosophical discussions.”

The McNally Family Chair in Philosophy and Human Ecology was created with a generous gift from COA Trustee Jay McNally ’84 and his daughters Rose Besen-McNally ’19 and Lily Besen-McNally ’20, in honor of Jay’s grandparents, Rose and Michael Russo.

Lakey is a great example of human ecology in action, said Dom Arsenault ’21, demonstrating through her work and her teaching how connected philosophy is with other disciplines.

“Heather is an amazing instructor. She does an excellent job at making philosophy accessible and relevant,” he said. “As someone who loves philosophy, it’s amazing to watch her show people who focus on other subjects how important philosophy can be.

College of the Atlantic philosophy professor Heather Lakey engages with students on complex topic...College of the Atlantic philosophy professor Heather Lakey engages with students on complex topics, showing the importance of philosophy across the disciplines.

Arsenault said it’s also really exciting to see the college hire someone with a COA degree.

“I think Heather is proof of how valuable both our undergraduate and graduate training is, and so it makes me hopeful for my own future and prospects, both as a human ecologist and as a student of philosophy,” he said.