Center Staff

Anthony Simon Laden

Harry Brighouse, Director

Harry Brighouse is Professor of Philosophy and Affiliate Professor of Educational Policy Studies at UW-Madison, where he has taught since 1992. He is author of several books, including School Choice and Social Justice (Oxford, 2000), On Education (Routledge, 2005), and (with Adam Swift) Family Values: The Ethics of Parent-Child Relationships (Princeton, 2014). With Michael McPherson, he has also recently edited The Aims of Higher Education: Problems of Morality and Justice (University of Chicago, 2015). Recent papers and book chapters include (with Gina Schouten), “Principles of Educational Justice: Some Problems”, Social Philosophy and Policy (2014); (with Gina Schouten), “To Charter or not to Charter: What Questions Should We Ask, and What Will the Answers Tell Us?”, Harvard Educational Review (2014); (with Adam Swift), “The Goods of Parenting,” in Carolyn MacLeod and Francoise Baylis (eds), Family Matters (Oxford, 2014); and  (with Adam Swift), “The Place of Equality in Educational Justice” in Kirsten Meyer (ed.) Education, Justice and the Human Good (Routledge, 2014). He has written about education policy for national newspapers, and consulted with policymakers, in the UK. He is also a founding member of, and occasional contributor to, the well-known academic blog, Crooked Timber. He is currently working with Adam Swift, Helen Ladd and Susanna Loeb on a book tentaively entitled Educational Goods, about how to think about values and evidence together when making educational policy decisions, and is working with Tim Smeeding on a project concerning the extent to which, and ways in which, the US government should subsidize childrearing.

Anthony Simon Laden

Anthony Simon Laden, Associate Director

Tony Laden is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he has taught since 1996. He received his PhD in Philosophy from Harvard in 1996. He is the author of Reasoning: A Social Picture (Oxford, 2012), and Reasonably Radical: Deliberative Liberalism and the Politics of Identity (Cornell, 2001), as well as a couple of dozen articles on topics ranging from the philosophy of John Rawls to questions of equality in schools, democratic responses to multiculturalism and the nature of prudence. Recent papers include “Constructivism as Rhetoric” in the Blackwell Companion to Rawls (2014), “The Authority of Civic Citizens” in On Global Citizenship (2013), and “Learning to be Equal: Just Schools and Schools of Justice” in Education, Justice and Democracy (2013). His research has been sponsored by the NEH, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Spencer Foundation. His research and teaching interests include political philosophy, especially democracy, multiculturalism, feminism, and the place of schools in democratic society; reasoning, and the practical philosophy of Rousseau and Hegel.

Paula McAvoy

Paula McAvoy, Program Director

Paula McAvoy began her career as a high school social studies teacher in California, where for ten years she taught and co-directed the Foothill Middle College Program. She went on to earn her doctorate in philosophy of education from the department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. After completing that degree in 2010, she worked as an assistant professor at Illinois State University and then spent three and a half years as an associate program officer at the Spencer Foundation. She became the Program Director at the Center for Ethics and Education in 2015. Paula’s research focuses on the aims of schooling in a democratic society, and she has recently used the tools of moral and political philosophy to consider cases of cultural and religious accommodation, the aims of sex education, and the ethics of teaching about politics in schools. Some of this work has been published in Educational Theory and Theory and Research in Education, and Curriculum Inquiry. She is also the co-author with Diana Hess of The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education (Routledge, 2015), a book that blends analysis of a longitudinal mixed-method study of high school classes with philosophic discussion of the ethics of teaching. She is currently working with historian Lisa Anderson on a second book, Sex Education: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives to be published by the University of Chicago Press.

Abby Beneke

Abby Beneke

Abby Beneke is a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at UW-Madison. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology and an M.A. in Urban Education. Using an anthropology of policy approach, as well as critical sociocultural theories, she explores school discipline policies as they intersect with race and class. Her research traces policy implementation at multiple levels (e.g., classroom, district, state, national) using qualitative comparative case study methods. Before studying at UW-Madison, Abby taught first grade in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 


Fellows are not in-residence. Instead, they form a network of scholars interested in working on moral and political questions concerning educational policy and practice. We recruited the following Senior Fellows to contribute to the work of the center by: advising staff about the content and direction of meetings and events, participating in conferences sponsored by the center, and being a resource for graduate students and junior scholars engaged in this type of work. 

Kyla Ebels-Duggan

Kyla Ebels-Duggan is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University.  She specializes in moral and political philosophy and their history. Much of her past work concerns the reason-giving authority that one person’s ends or values have for others.  She has published articles addressing this issue as it arises in political contexts and in interpersonal relationships of love.  More recently she has written on moral education, including the implications of our dependence on upbringing for personal responsibility, and the appropriate role and limits of the state in forming children’s worldviews.  In the next year she will be working on a book exploring the central role that experiences of value play in forming and grounding our normative commitments.  Ebels-Duggan has received a grant from the Experience Project, funded by the John Templeton Foundation, to support work on this project.  She has previously held fellowships with the Spencer Foundation, and Princeton University’s Center for Human Values.  Her work has appeared in Ethics, The Philosophical QuarterlyPhilosophical Studies and Philosophers’ Imprint.  Ebels-Duggan received her BA from the University of Michigan in 1998 and her PhD from Harvard in 2007.

Jennifer M. Morton

Jennifer M. Morton is an assistant professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York, CUNY. She received her A.B. in Philosophy from Princeton University and her Ph. D. in philosophy from Stanford University. Professor Morton grew up in Lima, Peru. She works mainly in philosophy of action, philosophy of education, and political philosophy. Her current project focuses on the moral and political implications of recent social science research into the importance of non-cognitive dispositions (such as grit, perseverance, and assertiveness) for educational achievement. She is particularly interested in the impact of such policies on minority communities. Her publications include “Cultural Code-Switching: Straddling the Achievement Gap” (Journal of Political Philosophy), “Molding Conscientious, Hard-Working, and Perseverant Students” (Social Philosophy and Policy), and “The Non-Cognitive Challenge to a Liberal Egalitarian Education” (Theory and Research in Education). Her work in this area has been generously supported by the Spencer Foundation. During the 2015-2016 academic year, she will be a Laurance S. Rockefeller Faculty Fellow at the Princeton Center for Human Values where she will be working on a book length treatment of these topics. Professor Morton has also published opinion pieces on higher education in The Chronicle for Higher Education and The Philosopher’s Magazine.

Walter Parker

Walter Parker a professor of Social Studies Education and Political Science at the University of Washington. Currently, he conducts design-based research on the high school government course while also studying civic education more broadly—the popular discourse on “educating global citizens,” for example, the practices of discussion-oriented pedagogy, and the effects of participation in political simulations (e.g., mock Congress, moot court). He appreciates interpretive methods, which require attention to meaning (culture). When a kindergartner says about a new rule, “That’s not fair!”, what does she mean by fairness and from where does her passion stem? When a high-school senior says, “I didn’t like the government course because I don’t plan to be a politician,” what should we make of his vocational stance toward knowledge and what does it mean for his civic identity?

Parker studied politics and sociology in college and then taught them at a Colorado high school for ten years in the 1970s. After graduate school, he taught first at the University of Texas-Arlington, close to Dallas jazz and the Ft. Worth two-step. In 1984, he did a brief post-doc with Lawrence Kohlberg, the developmental psychologist. While reading his work, he also read Martin Luther King, Jr. Both Kohlberg and King explored justice deeply, not simply rattling off the term like one of Hilda Taba’s “empty wagons.” And, both believed intellectual and moral development proceed on intertwined, not separate, tracks. Both thinkers played key roles in Parker’s thinking. Chapter 4 of Teaching Democracy (2003) brings them together in “Cutting Through Conventional Wisdom.”

His books include Educating the Democratic Mind (Suny Press, 1995); Teaching Democracy: Unity and Diversity in Public Life (Teachers College Press, 2002); and Social Studies Today: Research and Practice (Routledge, 2015). An intellectual self-portrait is posted here. He lives in Seattle with his wife, Sheila Valencia.

Bryan Warnick

Bryan Warnick is Professor of Philosophy of Education and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Education and Human Ecology, Ohio State University. He earned his BS degree in philosophy and psychology in 1999 from the University of Utah, graduating magna cum laude. After serving as a research associate in medical ethics at the University of Utah School of Medicine, Dr. Warnick completed his AM (2002) and PhD (2005) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Philosophy of Education, with Nicholas Burbules and Walter Feinberg as his primary advisors. He taught at the University of Illinois in 2005 as an adjunct assistant professor, and was hired by Ohio State University in the Autumn of 2005 to teach and conduct research in the area of history and philosophy of education. He is the author of Understanding Student Rights in Schools: Speech, Privacy, and Religion in Educational Contexts (Teachers College Press, 2012) and Imitation and Education: A Philosophical Inquiry into Learning by Example (SUNY Press, 2008), as well as numerous articles in journals such as Harvard Educational Review, Educational Theory, Educational Policy, The Journal of Teacher Education, and the Journal of Applied Philosophy. His interests in ethics and education include student rights, parent rights, educational equality, religion and education, technology and education, and the educational significance of pluralism.