Assistant Professor Michael Menser

Department of Philosophy

 

Interviewed by Honors Academy student Noia Efrat

Michael Menser loves the diversity at Brooklyn College. Menser was born in Alabama, but with his father in the Army, he moved around the South and also spent time in Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania. "You come to Brooklyn College and you meet people from all different religious and cultural backgrounds. You get exposed to what they are interested in. The mission of CUNY seems so unique in that sense — to draw from this incredible diversity of people."

His appreciation of diversity and support of the CUNY mission dovetail nicely with his research interests. "I have two main areas of study. One is in philosophy of science, especially in biology and now more ecology, and the other is in political philosophies, especially around issues of democracy and inequality, so it plays into my own research because you begin to understand the difference between self-determination and rights."

Menser believes that faculty should encourage students to attend graduate school. He remembers two students who he feels he made an impact on — both women, one from Trinidad and the other from Brooklyn. "Neither had any relatives who had gone to college, much less graduate school. And now they are both on their ways to Ph.D.s. One of the things I hadn't realized before then was how important it is to mentor and advise students. It's not that you’re telling them what to do, but rather laying out their options. I've learned that's an important part of what I do as a teacher. We need to expand the diversity of those attending graduate school so that ultimately the demographic of who the teachers and researchers are is expanded."