Department of Philosophy

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Masters Degree

The Program

The graduate program’s strengths are in environmental philosophy.  Our environmental masters track takes advantage of the department’s expertise in wilderness issues, Thoreau, ecofeminism, bioregionalism, philosophy of technology, philosophy of ecology, literature and environment, synthetic biology, and climate ethics.  In addition to faculty working directly in these areas, many faculty outside the department--in for example the School of Forestry, Environmental Studies, English, and Native American Studies--offer relevant courses and are available to students working on their graduate thesis.  

An M.A. in Environmental Philosophy can stand on its own or can be used as preparation for work in fields such as environmental law, policy, or community activism. A minimum of 36 graduate credits must be presented for the degree as well as a 30-40 page thesis paper written in consultation with a committee of three faculty. A student with the appropriate professional background wishing to take this degree while remaining in his or her career may be able to waive up to six of the 36 required credits. Three of these will be the internship and the other three will depend upon the student’s background. In order to be eligible for this waiver, such a student must satisfy the entire admissions committee that he or she has adequate preparation in philosophy before being admitted to the program.

The department also offers the masters degree to students who wish to pursue a more traditional course of study.  We consider this degree terminal rather than preparation for a Ph.D. elsewhere. Departmental funding is, except in very rare circumstances, reserved for students in the environmental track.


mountains and trees macdonald lake

The University of Montana is an exceptional institution for the study of environmental issues. In addition to a world class School of Forestry, the University has many highly regarded departments including those in Biological Sciences, Environmental Studies, Native American Studies, and English. We also have a strong tradition in environmental writing and an active, interdisciplinary Center for Ethics. There is a continual stream of readings, lectures, conferences, and events on campus related to natural resources and environmental issues. Students in the environmental philosophy emphasis have the opportunity to complete an internship with one of the large number of local and national environmental organizations located in Missoula.

The culturally vibrant city of Missoula is located at the intersection of five beautiful valleys, offering unparalleled access to Montana's wildlife, its national forest and wilderness areas, and a number of its legendary rivers.


Curricular, Admissions, and Financial Aid Information



Albert Borgmann, Ph.D., University of Munich, 1963
Philosophy of Society and Culture

Bridget Clarke, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2003
Ethics, History of Ethics, Moral Psychology

Armond Duwell, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2004
Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Physics, Metaphysics, Epistemology

Thomas Huff, Ph.D., Rice University, 1968
Philosophy of Law, Political Philosophy, Ethics
(Professor Emeritus)

Soazig Le Bihan , Ph.D., University of Bielefeld (Germany), 2008; University of Nancy (France), 2008; alumna, Ecole normale superieure (France)
Philosophy of Physics, History & Philosophy of Science, History of Philosophy

Paul Muench,Department Chair, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2006
Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Ancient Greek Philosophy (especially Plato's Socrates),
Wittgenstein, Philosophy of Literature and Film

Christopher Preston, Ph.D., University of Oregon, 1999
Environmental Philosophy, Feminist Epistemology, Ethics, Interdisciplinary Science and Ethics

David Sherman, Ph.D., University of Texas, 2000
German Idealism, Critical Theory, Phenomenology, Existentialism, Postmodernism, Social and Political Theory

Deborah Slicer, Graduate Program Advisor, Ph.D., Philosophy, 1989, M.F.A., Creative Writing, University of Virginia, 2000 Environmental Philosophy, Philosophy of Literature, Ethics

Matthew Strohl, Ph.D., Princeton University, 2008
Ancient Philosophy, Ethics, Aesthetics.

Recent M.A. Students

Electronic thesis, or professional papers can be found by going to

Patrick Burke

Patrick Burke
My academic concerns have grown out of my long involvement in the conservation of wild places and the restoration of areas severely impacted by human activities. I worked for many years as a wilderness ranger in Montana and then for twenty years as a President of an ecological restoration company. These experiences led me to want to examine in depth the possibility of a new relationship between humans and nature that was reciprocally appropriate and that addressed the profound environmental crisis we currently face. In particular, my graduate work focused on both the philosophy of technology and environmental ethics in attempt to understand how technology has influenced the way that we take up with the more than human world in general and wild places specifically. Since receiving my M.A. in Philosophy I have developed and taught academically rigorous field courses for the Wild Rockies Field Institute in the areas of environmental ethics, global climate change, ecological restoration and human/land relationships in the western United States. During the academic year I teach ethics and introductory humanities courses for the Department of Philosophy and the Davidson Honors College at the University of Montana. I am, also, affiliate faculty in the Wildlands Restoration Program at the University of Montana where I supervise undergraduate student practicums in ecological restoration.

Dan Congdon

Dan Congdon
I am currently a first year grad student in the Environmental Philosophy MA program. My undergraduate degrees are a BS in Biology (Ecology) and a BA in Philosophy from Seattle Pacific University. After graduating from SPU I worked for a year and a half with the Food and Drug Administration as an Investigator. That job was a great learning experience and I was able to get an inside look at politics, regulation, and the industrial food system. My education and work background contribute to my current research interests in Deep Ecology, Philosophy of Technology (as it applies socially, culturally, and environmentally), accounts of knowledge and objectivity that address the Naturalistic fallacy, animal welfare in agricultural settings, and many more! There are many paths from this education that I am currently considering, including: PhD work in Philosophy, teaching in general, political activism, writing, and again, many more. Two of the things that I like most about this program are the openness to interdisciplinary work (philosophy, political science, natural sciences, social sciences, etc.) and the emphasis on applying theory to current and ongoing environmental issues. And last but not least, studying in Missoula has allowed me to embrace the outdoors, which inspires much of the work in this field, while doing the work itself. 

Casie Dunleavy

Casie Dunleavy
Before studying at the University of Montana, I received a Graduate Certificate in Bioethics at Washington State University, and received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Philosophy and General Studies in the Humanities at Central Washington University with minors in Applied Ethics and English Literature. My academic interests are environmental philosophy, practical ethics (especially animal ethics and bioethics), feminist philosophy, and care ethics. My thesis project is centered on developing a model or framework that could be used to guide end-of-life medical caregiving decisions for companion animals. Outside of class, I enjoy coaching UM’s ethics bowl team, outdoor excursions, knitting, running, singing, beer, and wine.

Andrea Gammon

Andrea Gammon
Andrea Gammon, a native of Portland, Maine, has a B.A. in philosophy and a B.S. in biology from the University of Maine (2010) and will complete her M.A. in Environmental Philosophy in 2013. While at UM, Andrea has worked as a graduate research assistant on a National Science Foundation project on the Ethics of Climate Engineering, creating and maintaining the Ethics of Geoengineering Online Resource Center. Additionally, she assisted Christopher Preston, her adviser, on his edited anthology, Engineering the Climate: The Ethics of Solar Radiation Management.

Upon graduation, Andrea will begin a Ph.D. at Radboud University (The Netherlands) on an interdisciplinary project that combines hermeneutics and environmental ethics in an effort to “read the landscape.” Andrea’s project in particular deals with the ethics of ecological restoration, or “rewilding,” in cultural landscapes.

While in Missoula, Andrea has also worked for the Mansfield Ethics and Public Affairs Program, the Zootown Arts Community Center, and the Legal Atlas Project.

Jake Hays

Jake Hays
Since graduating in 2011 Jake Hays has worked as a program director for the scientific non-profit Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE). PSE is a multidisciplinary organization that generates, organizes, translates, and disseminates evidence-based information on novel energy production techniques such as shale gas development. As the program director of the health-energy nexus Jake has been responsible for reviewing and evaluating of a broad distribution of scientific literature, writing policy statements and commentaries, supervising descriptive epidemiologic studies, lecturing, providing oral and written testimony to the New York State Assembly, organizing conferences, researching various aspects of novel energy production techniques, communicating with a number of scientists around the world, and facilitating a number of other projects focused on energy production, public health, and the environment. Jake lives in Midtown Manhattan and works from Weill Cornell Medical College with a professor of clinical public health. He has plans to begin law school in the fall of 2013 to pursue a career in public interest environmental law and policy.

Angela Hoteling

Angela Hotaling
I grew up in the Hudson Valley in New York State and attended SUNY Oneonta where I was most interested in Feminism and Continental Philosophy. Environmental Philosophy, Feminist Ethics and Critical Theory are now my major interests. I am interested in discovering ways that studying ethics can inform society, whether through activist work in the non-profit sector or through teaching.

Chris Humm

Chris Humm
I'm currently in my second semester of the Environmental Philosophy MA program. I haven't yet chosen a thesis topic, but my primary interests include animal ethics, ancient philosophy, Native American ethics and religion, and anthropology of religion. Recently I've been interested in the role of sacred stories, folklore, and mythology in ethics.

I moved to Missoula in August where I began my experience as a graduate student by working as a teaching assistant with Pat Burke on a Wild Rockies Field Institute field course in the Bob Marshall wilderness.

In terms of my educational background, I have undergraduate degrees in Philosophy and Anthropology from Georgia Southern University. In my free time I enjoy working on art projects, hiking, and engaging in conversation with friends. In the long run I hope to continue studying philosophy and eventually manage a small farm.

Aaron McGlothlin

Aaron McGlothlin
I hail from Grundy, Virginia in the Cumberland Mountains. I received a B.A. in Philosophy from Emory & Henry College. My interests include ethical theory, philosophy of religion, philosophy of social science, environmental philosophy, and Marxist thought. On the side, I have a deep interest in Appalachian Studies and Humanistic Geography. In addition to my graduate studies in the Environmental Philosophy M.A. program, I am a composition instructor here at the University. Upon completing the M.A. program I plan on returning to my local community and becoming an educator and activist.

Nic Redig

Nic Redig
During my time at the University of Montana, I became more and more intrigued by virtue ethics and how one can go about living a flourishing life. While standard philosophical arguments go some way in informing this kind of life, the power of narratives and embodied experience typically escape them. Room must be made for this type of thinking, and my mind is often occupied by it. I am concerned with the everyday world because I think that while we create the world, the world creates us. In our every action, we are shaping this world, ourselves, and other people. Such power brings with it an imperative, an ethical responsibility, to act rightly. What this means is obviously open to question, but it is clear that we must actively engage with these sorts of questions…and do so at all times.

I grew up on a farm, and I intend on going back to the land, to farm once again, bringing with me all the philosophical tools I acquired while studying under some of the most down to earth faculty members I have ever met. These folks will literally change your life in very powerful and meaningful ways.

Ricky Swatek

Ricky Swatek
I was born and raised in Minnesota, spending most of my early life in the suburbs of the Twin Cities and along the northern Minnesota boarder. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where I double majored in philosophy and history. During my time in La Crosse I developed a special appreciation for continental philosophy, particularly existentialism, in addition to ancient and political philosophy. Most recently, my time at the University of Montana has allowed me to pursue my interests in aesthetics and the philosophy of romantic love. Going forward, I wish to apply a philosophical understanding to issues of social justice. I am very grateful for my time in Missoula, and continue to enjoy its picturesque setting and recreational offerings.

Bart Walsh

Bart Walsh
Bart received a B.A. in philosophy from UMASS Dartmouth in Spring 2009. As an undergrad he focused on Heidegger, Eastern philosophy, and non-classical logic. His main areas of interest today are phenomenology, consciousness, embodied/extended mind, environmental philosophy, and philosophy of technology. On a lighter note, during his free time you'll most likely find Bart either fishing, shredding the guitar, or playing with his dog Gus.

For additional information please contact the
Department of Philosophy
Liberal Arts, Room 101                                                                                                                                            The University of Montana
Missoula, MT 59812-5780

Phone: (406) 243-2949
FAX: (406) 243-5313
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