Work/Life Balance APA Member Interview: Katie Stockdale

APA Member Interview: Katie Stockdale

Katie Stockdale is a Ph.D. Candidate in Philosophy at Dalhousie University and Residential Dissertation Fellow at Cornell University. She works in moral psychology and is particularly interested in the nature, value, and risks of the emotions in moral, social, and political life. In Fall 2017, Katie will be an Assistant Professor in the Psychology and Philosophy Department at Sam Houston State University.

What are you most proud of in your professional life?

Right now, I’m most proud of getting a tenure-track job in philosophy. Just a few years ago, I was a struggling undergraduate student who was so anxious about public speaking and test-taking that I had academic accommodations exempting me from class presentations, and I wrote all of my exams in a separate room with extra time (all the way through my master’s degree). In 2015, I independently taught a course of over 90 students. In 2016, I gave 10 research talks in 3 different countries. In 2017, I can safely say that teaching and presenting my research are two of my favourite things to do. I’m really excited to get back into the classroom this fall.

What are you working on right now? 

I just sent a revised draft of my dissertation, “Oppression and the Struggle for Hope,” to my advisor (Chike Jeffers). I’m writing about the nature and value of hope in contexts of oppression—and doing so hasn’t been easy over the past year. I think that many people, in the current political climate, are struggling with questions related to hope. I’m trying to help answer some of the philosophical ones: What is hope? When is it valuable to moral and political struggles, and when is it risky or dangerous? What is the relationship between hope and anger in response to social and political injustices under oppression, and what does anger in the absence of hope look like? Can we struggle against oppression without hope, and where does faith fit into the picture?

My dissertation is part of the Hope & Optimism: Conceptual and Empirical Investigations Project at Cornell University and the University of Notre Dame. Over the past year, I have had the privilege of working with Andrew Chignell, Luc Bovens, Nicole Hassoun, Michael Milona, and Alex Esposito as we all try to better understand what hope is, what makes hope rational or valuable, and how hope is connected to human wellbeing and agency. Through our work, I have started to develop plans for a book project and have many ideas for articles beyond the dissertation.

If you could wake up tomorrow with a new talent, what would you most like it to be?

Can I choose a state of being? I would become content with imperfection. I still need to read Cheshire Calhoun’s paper on this topic.

What do you like to do outside work?

I am actually a pretty boring person. I am very introverted (although those who know me well know that I appear extroverted, if you can find me somewhere social). So on evenings off, I tend to curl up with my miniature schnauzer, Frodo, and a glass of wine to read non-philosophy books or watch Netflix. I also like hiking, yoga, and sailing in the warm months with my partner, Dave, and friends. I got to spend much of my Ph.D. exploring Nova Scotia on sailboats, and if you need an activity that takes your mind off of philosophy, sailing is a good one—especially if you are racing, in windy weather, and being yelled at constantly to “pull in the jib.” I also tweet a lot at @katiestockdale and manage an in-progress Women in Philosophy twitter list based on the UPDirectory. And, too often, I re-arrange all of the furniture in my apartment (wherever I’m living). Just ask my partner, who is now used to coming home to our living space torn apart only to be put back together in a new way by my weird self.

What is your favorite book of all time? 

Margaret Urban Walker’s 2006 Moral Repair: Reconstructing Moral Relations After Wrongdoing is up there. Elisa Hurley’s Ethics and Emotions course at Western University might have roped me into graduate school, but this book convinced me to stay. Walker’s arguments bring together so many of my interests in philosophy: injustice, emotions, hope, trust, resentment, forgiveness, and repair. It has helped me to define the direction of my work and career, and I owe thanks to Ami Harbin (Oakland University) for introducing me to it back when I was a master’s student in 2011.

What time of day are you most productive and creative?

The morning, always the morning. I have never understood people who sleep in and stay up late writing. Or people who drink coffee at night, then work, then sleep. How do they sleep? If I don’t shut my brain off early enough, I’ll be up all night running through arguments in my head.

Which super power would you like to have?

I was asked a similar question in a job interview! I was so unprepared to answer this question, and I shall not relive how it all went down here. But I was rated most likely to be Catwoman in my high school yearbook, if that helps. I think it was because I could do backflips (I was a competitive gymnast and dancer in a previous life).

What’s your favorite quote?

How you fight determines who you will become when the battle is over.

– Taiaiake Alfred, from his 2005 book Wasáse: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom

What’s your poison?

Wine, preferably with sushi.

What advice do you wish someone had given you?

The opposite of “be strong,” “hold your head up high,” and other nice versions of “suck it up.” Sometimes, it’s okay to be vulnerable, sad, afraid, angry, and defeated, and to let yourself dwell there for a little while.

Find out more about Katie here.


This section of the APA Blog is designed to get to know our fellow philosophers a little better. We’re including profiles of APA members that spotlight what captures their interest not only inside the office, but also outside of it. We’d love for you to be a part of it, so please contact us via the interview nomination form here to nominate yourself or a friend.

Skye Cleary PhD MBA is a philosopher and author of 'Existentialism and Romantic Love' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). She lectures at Columbia University, Barnard College, and City College of New York, and tweets at @skye_cleary.

Skye Cleary
Skye Cleary PhD MBA is a philosopher and author of 'Existentialism and Romantic Love' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). She lectures at Columbia University, Barnard College, and City College of New York, and tweets at @skye_cleary.


  1. Great to see this interview with Katie. She was one of our wonderful tutors at the Dalhousie Writing Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is great to see her doing so well – not a surprise but great to see. You are missed, Katie.


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