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Alumni Spotlight

Molly Gardner

Molly Gardner

How did NIU Philosophy help prepare you for your doctoral program/career in philosophy?

I took my first philosophy class only in the last semester of my senior year of college. I loved it immediately, but I figured it was too late to try to do anything else with philosophy—after all, I was about to graduate from college and start my career. But three years later, I found that I was unhappy with the various careers I had tried to start. While working at my day job, I enrolled in a local university as a student-at-large and took three more philosophy classes. They were just as great as I had remembered, and I started to question my belief that it was too late to keep going in philosophy. Finally, hoping that it wasn’t too late, I enrolled in the philosophy M.A. program at NIU.

Going to NIU was one of the best decisions I have ever made. NIU caught me up on everything I missed out on by not majoring in philosophy as an undergraduate, and then it caught me up even more. By the time I graduated, I was a seasoned professional: I understood philosophical methodology, I had a good grasp of the major developments in the history of philosophy, and I was well-acquainted with the important concepts in fields like ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, and logic. More importantly, I had been doing philosophy—conversing with professors and fellow graduate students, reading, teaching, and writing—for two busy, full, and immensely fulfilling years, so I had gained the experience to know that a career in philosophy was right for me.

I am immensely lucky to have had the chance to enter the field of philosophy a bit later than usual, and I am incredibly grateful to NIU for making this possible.

What do you feel is special about NIU Philosophy?

NIU philosophy is special because of its emphasis on teaching at both the undergraduate and the graduate level. Courses are designed with students’ needs in mind.

Another thing that is special about NIU philosophy is the NIU philosophical community—the faculty, grad students, and undergraduates. People at NIU seemed to love philosophy as much as I did.  We loved it so much that we continued to philosophize after classes were over, after our papers were written, late into the night, drinking beer and drawing logic problems on a giant white board in someone’s apartment.  My memories of doing philosophy at NIU are so good that they have kept me going through the hard times that came later, such as the job market. (And I am glad they did, because the hard times really weren’t that bad anyway, so I’m glad I’ve kept on going.)

Why would you recommend NIU Philosophy to applicants to MA programs?

I would recommend NIU philosophy to applicants to MA programs because it’s a rigorous, challenging, and immensely rewarding program. It has a great and well-deserved reputation. Even after getting my Ph.D. and landing a tenure-track job, I still meet philosophers who are impressed that I went to NIU.


Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Bowling Green State University, 2015-

Prof. Gardner specializes in ethics, particularly issues in population ethics, the ethics of environmental degradation, and human well-being.

Previous Appointments

Research Assistant Professor in the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2013-2015

Adam Smith Guest Professor, Department of Philosophy and Economics, University of Bayreuth, Germany, 2014


Ph.D., philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2013

M.A., philosophy, Northern Illinois University, 2006

B.A., music, Grinnell College, 2000