Dr. Peter Nelsen


  • PhD, University of New Hampshire (in Philosophy of Education)

Current Research

I use the tools of philosophical analysis to engage with issues of democratic education and social justice. A central aspect of my research program is the exploration of a feminist and pragmatist conception of relational autonomy that pushes our understanding of what it means to help students become self-directed learners amidst social, political, and economic constraints. Similarly, in developing a deeper understanding of the curricular complexities concerned with helping education students reflect on social justice issues, I have recently written about the value of playfulness within social justice education. I have also written about why and how social justice educators need to tailor curriculum to account for the epistemological context in which their work is embedded. I am currently working on a book-length manuscript in which I respond directly to a question that has repeatedly arisen in my current work with education students: How can educators maintain their own integrity and help students develop a greater capacity for autonomy and self-reflection while working within a system of schooling that holds the values of accountability and standardization above all others? My students ask how they can hold on to their justice-motivated aims as teachers when the dominant approach to schooling demands that they participate in practices that sustain oppression in its many forms. My response is a pragmatic reconstruction of the concept of integrity that grounds such important and personal ethical work within the context of communal inquiry and involves a focus on issues of privilege, power, and oppression. My argument has important implications for both schooling and the preparation of educators. I plan to continue grounding my philosophical thought in the questions that emerge from my work with students and teachers, and I am especially excited to include students in developing public responses to our questions.

Program Affiliation

  • Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education

Courses Taught at ASU

  • FDN 3800: Foundations of American Education
  • FDN 2400: Critical Perspectives on Teaching and Learning
  • FDN 5840: Social and Philosophical Perspectives on Education
  • EDL 7011: Multidisciplinary Seminar in Emerging Issues

Professional Service and Engagement

I am a co-editor of the newly reformed academic journal, Democracy & Education. I am a member of the following organizations:

  • The Philosophy of Education Society
  • The South Atlantic Philosophy of Educational Society (currently President)
  • American Educational Studies Association

I review manuscripts for the following journals:

  • Journal of Teacher Education
  • Journal of Curriculum Theorizing
  • Journal of Multicultural Education

When not teaching or writing, PJ's interests include hiking, paddling, and riding big slides at the playground with his 2 year old, Zoe.

Title: Professor
Department: Department of Leadership and Educational Studies

Email address: Email me

Phone: (828) 262-8686

Office address
212C Collge of Education
Boone, NC 28608-2037