Heather Douglas to Join Department of Philosophy Faculty


Heather Douglas will join the College of Arts & Letters on August 16, 2018, as an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy

A philosopher of science, Douglas’ research focuses on the relationship between science and democracy, including the role of social and ethical values in science, the nature of scientists’ responsibility in and for science, and science-policy interfaces such as science advising, science funding, and science communication.

She is interested in how citizens can and should interact with science, including the bases for citizens’ trust in scientists. She also has worked on the nature of objectivity in science and how to weigh complex, non-convergent sets of evidence. 

Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and she has been recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general science society, which named her an AAAS Fellow in 2016 for "distinguished contributions to the philosophy of science, particularly to the analysis of science policy, science in a democratic society, and values in science."

She also is a fellow of the Institute for Science, Society, and Policy at the University of Ottawa, a member of the Virtual Institute for Responsible Innovation, and a member of the Consortium for Socially Relevant Philosophy of/in Science and Engineering

Douglas has authored dozens of articles and essays, several edited collections, and the monograph, Science, Policy, and the Value Free Ideal, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2009, which explores the way values influence science and how they should influence science in the context of policy. 

She also edited Environmental Ethics from the Roots Up: An Introductory Anthology, published in 2015 to introduce students with no philosophical background to the core ethical ideas that shape environmental ethics and the conceptual challenges that run through it. 

I am really looking forward to working with my philosophical colleagues and colleagues from other units on how to craft effective public engagement with science and how to think about the relationship between science and justice.

Dr. Heather Douglas

"I am very excited to be joining the Department of Philosophy at MSU," Douglas said. "MSU has a strong culture of both interdisciplinary collaboration and public service. The Department of Philosophy exemplifies these aspects of MSU culture, and I am really looking forward to working with my philosophical colleagues and colleagues from other units on how to craft effective public engagement with science and how to think about the relationship between science and justice. I am also looking forward to teaching about science and society issues in an interdisciplinary classroom."

Douglas comes to Michigan State University from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, where she was an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy; the Waterloo Chair in Science and Society; Associate Director of the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE), which focuses on research in energy studies at the University of Waterloo; and Professor at the Balsillie School of International Affairs Innovation, which is a collaborative partnership with the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Centre for International Governance and is for advanced research, education, and outreach in the fields of global governance and international public policy.

As the Waterloo Chair in Science and Society, Douglas focused on improving both the scholarly and public understanding of science and technology in society with a research focus on the importance of diversity in knowledge production practices, the nature of scientific institutional structures, the relationship between science and policy, and the moral terrain of science and technology. 

She earned her Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science in 1998 from the University of Pittsburgh where she also served as a Visiting Associate Professor in the History and Philosophy of Science Department in fall 2011 and Visiting Fellow at the Center for the Philosophy of Science during the 2010-2011 academic year.