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Sue Stafford

Sue Stafford
Professor Emeritus

Dr. Sue Stafford has been teaching philosophy at Simmons for the past 18 years. Her undergraduate education was at Wheaton College in Massachusetts; her undergraduate major was philosophy. She earned a Masters degree in philosophy at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle, and a Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Connecticut. Before coming to Simmons, she taught at Trinity College in Connecticut, Tufts University and the University of Lowell. She also spent 6 years working full time as a consultant in artificial intelligence.

Teaching Areas and Topics

My teaching at Simmons has been very broad, covering everything from courses in the history of philosophy, to philosophy of mind, to courses in applied philosophy such as Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues in Information Technology, and Environmental Ethics. My classes are a combination of lecture and discussion.  I urge students to both study philosophy and to do philosophy themselves. I firmly believe that philosophy matters to the "real world," and thus I think it is important that students spend time considering how the ideas they are studying in class apply to current issues in the world. In the Spring of 2008 I will be adding service learning to my Environmental Ethics course to foster this connection. I regularly use technology to foster collaboration among students; most recently, I've had students write collaborative term papers using Wiki software.


My research in the past has been primarily in the cross-section between philosophy of mind and philosophy of technology. As I have become increasingly concerned about the impact of human activities on the environment, my research interests have gravitated in that direction. In particular, I am interested in the impact of technology on our ability to engage with and respond empathetically to the environment.  This research involves the intersection of the philosophy of technology, the philosophy of emotion, and the concepts of ethical and intellectual virtue. I'm especially interested in the relationship between knowledge, emotion, motivation, and behavior. Why is it that we can know that things that we do are harmful, feel bad about doing them, and yet continue to do them?

Recent Publications

"Focal Practice and Intellectual Virtue: A Path to Environmentally Respectful Behavior" submitted to Environmental Ethics, currently under revision.

"Integrating Green Chemistry Throughout the Undergraduate Curriculum via Civic Engagement" Richard W. Gurney and Sue Stafford, Chapter in "State of the Art Green Chemistry Education" ACS Symposium Series Book, Feb 2008.

"Heidegger's Phenomenology of Boredom and the Scientific Investigation of Conscious Experience " with Wanda Torres Gregory, Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, Vol 5 No2, June 2006.

"Women Take Flight: Leadership and Flying," with Linda Castner, Wharton Leadership Digest, May, 2004, Volume 8, Number 8.

Recent Presentations & Lectures

"High Touch in a Small Footprint: Fostering a Shared Academic Technology Vision (SATV)" with Braddlee and Gail Matthews-DeNatale. NITLE Summit April 4, 2008, San Francisco.

"Using Wikis for Collaborative Term Paper Writing," NERCOMP Pedagogy SIG, January 25, 2008.   "Using Wikis for Collaborative Term Paper Writing," Colleges of the Fenway Technology Symposium, October 26, 2007.

"Conscience and Consumption" with Rich W. Gurney, Annual Meeting, Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, Cincinnati, Ohio, February 22-24, 2007.

"Technology, Intellectual Virtue, and the Knowledge Worker," virtual presentation to First International Conference on Knowledge, Technology and Society, Berkeley, California, February, 2005.

"The Use of Flight Training to Explore the Role of Perceived Risk-Taking in the Development of Self-Reliance of Women," with Linda Castner. Presentation to Women in Aviation International, March 11, 2004, Reno, NV.


  • American Philosophical Association


My interests have always revolved around environment.  I live in it, fly in it, sail in it, garden in it, and am concerned about sustaining it. At Simmons I serve as the faculty advisor to the Sustainability Committee at Simmons.

I am an avid sailor, and have sailed up and down the east coast of the U.S. as well as in Alaska, Greece, Turkey, Norway, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the Caribbean. What a spectacularly beautiful planet it is! My family has a house on a small island in Maine, where I garden like a crazy woman! I serve as a Trustee of the Islesboro Islands Trust in Maine, and also Chair the Easement Committee for that organization.  I organize a group of volunteers that makes annual monitoring visits to conserved properties to insure that conservation restrictions are being respected.

I am a private pilot, and co-developed and co-facilitate a leadership training workshop: Leaders Take Flight.  The workshop uses flight training in small airplanes to develop 3 key leadership traits: confidence, adaptability, and communication / collaboration.  The workshop is offered nationally, and has been offered twice to Simmons faculty, staff and students.

Teaching Areas & Topics

  • Theory of Knowledge
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Technology and Ethics


Bachelor of Arts, cum laude
Wheaton College

Master of Arts
University of Illinois, Chicago Circle

Doctor of Philosophy
University of Connecticut - Philosophy