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Vanessa Christina Wills Faculty Member

My research focuses on how socioeconomic arrangements promote or inhibit freedom, equality, and human development, with an emphasis on interpreting the work of Karl Marx. At GW, my scholarly agenda has centered on work towards completion of a book manuscript on Karl Marx’s moral thought (which is under review at Princeton University Press), on scholarly articles addressing related themes in Marx’s work, and on Marxist philosophy of race. My work in philosophy of race will form part of the basis for my second book, which is about how Black woman Marxists have historically understood the intersections of race, gender, and class. I am currently working on the book proposal for this book while in fellowship at the Dresher Center for the Humanities at UMBC in Spring 2022. I have also presented several invited keynote talks on this theme, and presented research on this theme at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, where I was DAAD Visiting Chair in Ethics and Practice during the 2019-2020 German Winter Semester. I have been invited to present keynote lectures at conferences internationally on topics including Marxist ethics, feminism, and the philosophy of race, including at the “Minds of Our Own” feminist philosophy conference in November 2018 at MIT, and at the "Minorities and Philosophy" conference in April 2019 at Stanford. My research is cited not only by philosophers but also by scholars in Education, Criminology, Gender Studies, and African-American Studies, speaking to its broad relevance. In my teaching, I have diversified and enhanced my department’s curriculum particularly in the history of philosophy and in political philosophy. I have served GW and the academy at large, as well as local and global communities, through varied efforts including mentoring, conference organizing, and public philosophy. I was on research leave in Fall 2019, and when I returned in Spring 2019, I taught "Social and Political Philosophy" at the undergraduate level, and "History of Modern Philosophy" at the graduate level, both of which are core courses in my department's curricular offerings. I have served my department by participating in curriculum development, GPAC assessment, and graduate recruitment, and by co-chairing organizing committees for two of our lecture series. I have served the university by participating in meetings of the Faculty Senate, and by promoting awareness of CCAS research among members of the National Council for Arts and Sciences. I was also instrumental in developing our department's response to the moral, social, and political challenge of anti-racism and Black Lives Matter. I worked alongside my GWU philosophy colleague, Gail Weiss, as well as other philosophers at local universities, in planning the June 2019 “Diverse Lineages of Existentialism II” conference. I was instrumental in coordinating our collaboration with the Organization of American States' Art Museum of the Americas, as one of our conference venues. I also serve the discipline through my service on the board of the Society for Young Black Philosophers. I organized an international conference, "Philosophies of Race, Class, and Gender," which took place at the Munich Center for Ethics at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Germany.

Research Areas

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