Work/Life Balance APA Member Interview: Sarah Donovan

APA Member Interview: Sarah Donovan

Sarah K. Donovan is an associate professor of philosophy and the interim dean of integrated learning at Wagner College. Her teaching and research interests include community-based, feminist, social, and moral philosophy. She has contributed multiple book chapters to the Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series. and has written about philosophy and Wonder Woman for the APA blog here.

What is your favorite thing that you’ve written?

My favorite things that I have written are about teaching philosophy. Writing about teaching gives me an opportunity to review the literature about effective teaching within philosophy and other disciplines, and to reflect on my own practice as I research.

What are you most proud of in your professional life?

I am most proud of having had the opportunity to work with the students at Port Richmond High School in a debate club in Port Richmond, Staten Island. A few interested high school students and a Wagner philosophy major worked with me to develop and start this club. This will be our third year and we have about twenty members. Last year we went to the regional ethics bowl for the first time and we plan to go again this year.

What are you working on right now? 

I am collaborating on a project with Margarita Sanchez, a colleague in Spanish language and literature, and Atala Chavez, a colleague at the non-profit Instituto de Investigación y Práctica Social y Cultural (IIPSOCULTA) in Mexico. We are writing about a transnational project between an immigrant community near my college (who is partnered with the Port Richmond Staten Island non-profit La Colmena) and a small community in Mexico (who is partnered with IIPSOCULTA). We are focusing on language, separation, and ethics.

What is your favorite sound in the world?

Genuine laughter.

What’s your personal philosophy?

When I am going about my day, and interacting with people in the classroom, or office, or grocery store, I try to be mindful that people—including kids—have complicated inner lives. It takes me out of my own frustrations and reminds me to be kind and generous.

What is your favorite holiday and why? 

Halloween. It is a day when kids and adults agree that it really is fun to dress up, play with friends, and eat candy.

What would your childhood self say if someone told you that you would grow up to be a philosopher?

My childhood self would not believe it. I deferred an acceptance to college because I moved with my high school boyfriend from Maine to Colorado to work towards being outdoor adventure instructors. I am continually thankful that I explored that option, but did something else.

When did you last sing to yourself, or to someone else?

I sing with my three kids all the time. The songs we sing are usually made up and super silly. I am in it 100% for the laughs.

Where is your favorite place you have ever traveled and why?

Quito, Ecuador. I will never forget the physical beauty of the country and the kindness of the family with whom I lived for a summer.

What is your least favorite fruit and why?

Bananas—I dislike everything about them except the color.  I bring one to work every few months to try to like them, but it always disappears, forgotten, into the depths of my work bag.

If you were a brick in the wall, which brick would you be?

If I were a brick in a wall I would want it to be load-bearing and I would be near the middle. I don’t like to stand out, I like to be around others, and I also like to be supportive.

What’s your top tip or advice for APA members reading this?

My advice is to junior APA members. Remember that every profession needs individuals with different strengths and that there is no one way to be a successful philosopher. Build a community, write about what you care about, and a career will follow.

Find out more about Sarah 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.


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