I am a political theorist trained as a philosopher. My research areas are modern (i.e., seventeenth-century forward) and contemporary political theory, with a focus on eighteenth-century Continental liberal thinkers, especially Immanuel Kant, and liberal theory in general. I also have a research interest in the philosophy of social science. My general approach is analytic social theory: it combines the tools of analytic political philosophy, textual interpretation, and attention to historical and sociological details.
Over the last several years, my research and teaching interests have merged. My previous book, The Playing Fields of Eton, explored tensions between equality and excellence and involved, among other things, debates about the education of children in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Out of that developed an interest in exploring learning and the development of autonomous learning in particular in contemporary institutions. So I have started taking steps toward becoming also an empiricist, and my own courses -- and the university as an institituion -- have become my laboratories.
I am currently pursuing three related lines of inquiry:
- Gamification. How different types of institutional setups and incentive structures foster (or impede) the development of autonomous action. I am particularly interested in the effects of "gamification" (the development of game-like structures as well as incentive- and feedback-schemes) on motivation.
- Learning Analytics. Developing tools to measure, track and analyze the development of autonomy.
- Avatar Agency. How we might reconceptualize agency in a world in which technology allows for the fragmentation of identity, action, responsibility in new ways.
"Implementing Metacognitive Interventions in Disciplinary Writing Classes," with E. Margaret Evans, in Kaplan, Silver, LaVaque-Manty, Meizlish, eds., Using Reflection and Metacognition to Improve Student Learning
"Kant on Education," in Ellis, ed., Kant's Political Thought
"Our Kant." Political Theory (2011)
The Playing Fields of Eton (2009)