Philosophy is no mere profession, but a way of life committed not only to discovering the truth but to acting on it for the sake of the public good. Such, at least, is the upshot of Karl Marx' famous remark that the point of philosophy is not merely to understand the world but to change it. I have sought for all of my now 20 years at Bloomsburg to practice that commitment--often failing, but always with renewed vigor when conditions called for it.
No conditions have called more loudly to me to muster both my philosophical resolve and a bit of courage than my involvement over this past year with the anti-fracking movement in Pennsylvania. One of my areas is environmental philosophy; another is bioethics. But neither of these was necessary for galvanizing my resolve to become involved in the resistance to what can be clearly shown on the evidence to be a serious danger to health, environmental integrity, and community sustainability than slickwater hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. All that was required was being a moral person--and one fortunate enough to be in an economic position to DO something. My hero--like that of virtually all philosophers who endeavor to act as public intellectuals--is Socrates, who gave up comfort and ultimately life to pursue the true, the good, and the beautiful. For him, there was no artificial distinction to be drawn between his "professional" life and his life, between "theory" and "action." So too it has always been for me. Note--I am not comparing myself to this master--far from it. But I can aspire to his example, and I think that his example is precisely what a university ought to encourage in its faculty.
So, I am tempted to say something cheesy, like "This is what I did on my summer vacation." But, in fact, this is what my life both in and out of the university has always looked like. This summer, it just got more media attention. I believe that these are the sorts of things academics ought to be pursuing consistent with their disciplines. And I think that this is precisely what the university ought to encourage and support in any of us.
--Wendy Lynne Lee