After twenty years at Salisbury University in the philosophy department, I have now been reassigned to environmental studies, a department I played an active role in establishing. My specialty is in 20th Century Continental Philosophy, with an emphasis on the thought of Emmanuel Levinas and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. In my work on environmental philosophy, I also focus on the American personalist tradition, which includes thinkers such as Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, Henry Bugbee, Stephen Cavell and Edward Mooney. In the last twenty years, I have published papers in the fields of Ethics, Social Justice, Aesthetics, Environmental Philosophy, Jewish Studies, Holocaust Studies, Extinction Studies, Teaching Pedagogy and the Philosophy of Literature. Some of the titles: “The Uncanny Goodness of Being Edible to Bears”; “Naming Adam Naming Coyote”; “Blood Intimacies: Biodicy and Keeping Faith with Ticks”; “The Virtue of Temporal Discernment: Rethinking the Extent and Coherence of the Good in a Time of Mass Species Extinction”; "Impossible Mourning: Two Attempts to Remember Annihilation"; “Persecution and Expiation: A Talmudic Amplification of the Enigma of Responsibility in Levinas”; and ” “Speaking with Discretion: Religious and Philosophical Perplexities in Levinas.”
During my graduate study, I attended the University of Tübingen as a Fulbright Scholar, where I was introduced to the poetry of Paul Celan. My book, Suffering Witness: the Quandary of Responsibility after the Irreparable (SUNY Press, 2000), offers a Levinasian account of Celan's poetry and the responsibility to witness the Shoah that it elicits. Because of my interest in fostering post-Shoah Jewish thought and culture, I have been active in the establishment of the Society for Continental Philosophy in a Jewish Context and served among its first executive officers. I also currently serve on the executive board for the North American Levinas Society and was an executive officer for six years for the International Association for Environmental Philosophy. I am a founding member of the Levinas Research Seminar and on the executive board of the journal, Environmental Humanities. I have served on the book selection committee for the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy.
In the last decade I have increasingly questioned what role philosophy might assume in a post-Shoah existence. In this wise I have co-edited two books of essays: Interrogating Ethics: Embodying the Good in Merleau-Ponty (Duquesne University Press, 2005); and Facing Nature: Levinasian Ethics and Environmental Philosophy (Duquesne University Press, 2012).
In 2009, I was invited by Deborah Bird Rose to give the keynote address for a conference on “Writing at the End of the World” held by the Center for Research for Social Inclusion at Macquarie University in Australia (http://www.ecologicalhumanities.org/hatley.html). This has led to my membership in Kangaloon (a group of Australasian scholars in the eco-humanities pursuing a poetics of political activism) and the Extinction Studies Working Group (http://extinctionstudies.org/). The latter group is currently working on a set of papers addressing various exemplars of extinction and the questions they raise for thinkers in the eco-humanities. My contribution, an essay written in journal form and titled “Walking with Extinction,” focuses on the Honshu wolf and was formulated in 2011 while I trekked the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Route in Japan as part of my course, co-developed with Dr. Kumi Kato of Wakayama University, on Buddhist and Shinto forms of spiritual practice in an environmental context (JAPANESE WINTERMESTER). In May of 2010, I co-directed a conference at Salisbury University focusing on the eco-humanities in a time of extinction: GeoAesthetics in the Anthropocene. You can also check out my current blog in regard to the subject of geoaesthetics at: http://geoaesthetics.blogspot.com/
In the last three years, the legacy of usurpation of indigenous lands and cultures in Montana, where I was born and raised, has also emerged as an important question for me. In collaboration with Nimachia Hernandez (beginning with a conference held at Columbia University in April of 2010 and titled “Native Americans, Jews and The Western World Order”), I have written a series of papers—as much story as philosophical argument—addressing how scholars respectively committed to the Blackfoot and Abrahamic traditions might question and hear one another’s questioning in regard to the themes of memory, knowing and healing raised in the historical landscape of genocide and ecocide, attempted or otherwise, that is Montana. My most recent collaboration with Dr. Hernandez occurred in early November of 2012 at a gathering on the theme of Memory and Counter Memory at the Center for Cultural Studies and Critical Inquiry/Arizona State University: Program for Memory and Countermemory In Spring of 2016 Dr. Hernandez and I are putting together a special edition of the journal Environmental Philosophy on the theme of “Place, Intelligibility and Indigeneity.”
As a teacher, I take pleasure in exposing students to a wide range of questions emerging in the eco-humanities and arts, with an emphasis upon critical analysis, philosophical reflection, and poetic amplification. For the last seven years I have worked with a class each spring semester to plant a 500 sq. ft. garden as part of our study of ethical and social responsibility for and to the living world. I am also an active member of the faculty involved in Religious Studies at Salisbury University. In this wise, I co-developed a course with Dr. Bob McBrien on “Taoism, Tai-Chi and Mindfulness.” I also regularly offer independent study opportunities for students on scriptural hermeneutics in Jewish, Christian, Taoist and Buddhist traditions.