Author, Artist & Educator-Activist
Research and teaching interests: Modern Social, Political, and Ethical Theory, Henry Sidgwick, Chicago Studies, LGBT2SQ Studies, Victorian Studies, Happiness Studies, Critical Race Theory, Timuel D. Black, Philosophy of Education/Precollegiate Philosophy, Critical Environmental/Ecological Justice, Utilitarianism, Pragmatism, Anarchism, Decolonization and Indigeneity, and Philosophy of Social Science.View Full CV
University of Chicago
Philosophy Department, Division of the Humanities; Faculty Affiliate, Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture. My academic interests are unusually wide-ranging and reflect my long affiliation with the University of Chicago. Read more.
Director of the Civic Knowledge Project
University of Chicago
The Civic Knowledge Project (CKP) at the University of Chicago was founded in 2003 by Danielle Allen, who envisioned the CKP as a vehicle for building civic friendship and democratic practice in Chicago, especially across Chicago's mid-South Side with UChicago and its neighboring communities. This effort, which demanded a candid critical perspective on the historical failings of UChicago to advance social justice, was expanded and enhanced under my directorship from 2006-2023 with such programs as Winning Words, the MLK Initiative featuring Timuel D. Black, and Partnering for a Sustainable Chicago.
Timuel D. Black Educational Foundation
The Timuel D. Black Educational Foundation was established to plan and host the 100th Birthday celebrations of Prof. Timuel D. Black on Dec. 7, 2018. The ongoing purpose of the Foundation is to carry on the legacy of Black's quest for social justice and equity, inspiring current and future generations to use his life lessons to make this world a better place. The Foundation provides educational opportunities, via scholarships and other investments, and works to encourage and highlight activities and projects in Chicago that exemplify the work and values of Prof. Black. The Foundation is chaired by Prof. Black's wife, Zenobia Johnson Black.
Working with Timuel D. Black
The best example of the work of the Civic Knowledge Project is our work with the great South Side historian, educator, and civil rights activist, the late Timuel D. Black, who now, at long last, has an endowed scholarship named in his honor at the University of Chicago, one of his alma maters. Prof. Black, who worked closely with Dr. King, was a revered teacher whose many devoted students (from such fabled schools as DuSable HS, Hyde Park Academy HS, and Harold Washington City College) would celebrate him for putting students at the center of his teaching and committing to their total educational experience, encouraging them to become active learners by engaging in dialogue with community activists and organizers from the civil rights movement.
His long and amazing life stretched from 1918 to 2021, and he shaped our program in so many ways and to such good effect that we adapted the CKP's Winning Words curriculum to teach philosophy, civics, and history through the example of his life and work, and the stories of other brilliant Chicago changemakers, from Ida B. Wells to Margaret Burroughs to Leon Despres to Hazel Johnson, and of course the stories of the civic-minded community members without whom change does not happen. Timuel D. Black and his “Sacred Ground” taught the CKP and Winning Words how the academic disciplines at the University of Chicago can and should be made more diverse, inclusive, and equitable, better grounded in their historical communities and more attuned to the deep insights and life lessons of our friends and neighbors on the South Side and in other Chicago neighborhoods. And through these local relations, we can see the global situation in a clearer way—the worldview of Timuel D. Black, though rooted in his “Sacred Ground” of Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, was as expansive as the worldview of his mentor, Dr. King, who held that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”