Danielle Albrecht: philosopher, educator, and Dungeon Master

Professor Albrecht (left) has joined McDaniel's philosophy department. (Jocelyn Hill / McDaniel Free Press).

When she isn’t teaching intro to philosophy and social justice here at McDaniel, Professor Danielle Albrecht can be found enjoying the outdoors hiking or leading her Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Albrecht’s journey with philosophy was not intentional. She first pursued political science as an undergrad at University of Maryland Baltimore County. At UMBC she dove into metaphysics and began questioning how social justice plays into the nature of the world. Albrecht’s involvement with the Ethics Bowl at UMBC, a debate-style tournament discussing contemporary moral topics, further expanded her philosophical spark. She declared a double major and continued pursuing philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she taught ethics as an alumna prior to coming to McDaniel this fall.

How has philosophy affected you?

My time on the Ethics Bowl team at UMBC significantly shaped my outlook and approach to philosophy, social political issues, and public speaking. One of the reasons I felt comfortable pursuing a profession in teaching at all is because I do not mind public speaking. I have to thank my time on the Ethics Bowl team for that.

What are your favorite parts about teaching philosophy?

There are a lot of things that I love about teaching. One of the things I love is the conversations that I get to have with students. There is something about being in a philosophy classroom that really captures students. It’s really meaningful to be able to engage with those students on topics that they never got to discuss before.

Even beyond that, helping students connect with their education in a more meaningful way I think is hugely useful. I love teaching philosophy! Issues of social justice especially has been my dream course.

Why should students try it?

There is a way in which we are educated that encourages us to think of ourselves as marketing commodities. I think that we see this when we see the skepticism we are faced with when we say we are studying philosophy. I find that an alienating approach to higher education and just your life. I would encourage individuals to take philosophy precisely because it offers an alternate view. It reminds you that your life—your collection of skills is not just a market commodity; it’s something important and valuable in itself.

How does philosophy benefit students?

You will come out of a philosophy classroom a more critical reader and a better, more comprehensive writer. And I think that philosophy does that in a way that few other disciplines can because it forces you to think not just about the content, but its structure. It makes you an active reader in a way that is very important.

Whether we are all aware of it or not, we all matter. We all have a role to play in this system of social cooperation we’ve set up. We all have some basic responsibility to take that role seriously. If we study philosophy, then I think it becomes even more apparent just how much of an impact we can have. One of the valuable things of philosophy is how it invites you to consider, “what can I do?”

Beyond that, philosophy is just cool!

What can be done to strengthen philosophy at McDaniel?

Ultimately what any philosophy department needs is majors. Vera Jakoby is a wonderful chair! She is a very warm presence. She makes you want to study philosophy! Having more students in philosophy classrooms is helpful, having more majors is helpful too!

Albrecht will be teaching intro to philosophy and issues of social justice this spring.