Karen Detlefsen named Penn vice provost for education

Karen Detlefsen on a back porch in snow.
Karen Detlefsen, professor of philosophy in the School of Arts & Sciences, with a secondary appointment in the Graduate School of Education.

Karen Detlefsen has been named vice provost for education at the University of Pennsylvania, effective July 1. The announcement was made today by Provost Wendell Pritchett and Deputy Provost Beth Winkelstein.

Detlefsen is a professor of philosophy in the School of Arts & Sciences, with a secondary appointment in the Graduate School of Education. She is chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Education in the College of Arts and Sciences, founding director of Penn’s Project for Philosophy for the Young and an affiliated faculty member of the Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality and Women. She is a leading global scholar of early modern philosophy who has taught at Penn since 2001 and has particular interests in women in the history of philosophy, the history and philosophy of education and the history and philosophy of science. She has been awarded the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, the highest University-wide teaching honor, and the Kahn Award for Distinguished Teaching by an Assistant Professor in the School of Arts & Sciences. 

“Karen Detlefsen is renowned for her strong commitments to teaching and education,” Pritchett said, “not only on our campus but also in our Philadelphia community. She will be an ideal partner to help us chart the course for graduate and undergraduate education at Penn as we emerge from the pandemic in the years ahead.” 

Detlefsen is co-editor of “The Routledge Handbook of Early Modern European Women Philosophers: (Routledge, forthcoming) and “Women and Liberty, 1600-1800” (Oxford University Press, 2017); editor of “Descartes’ Meditations: A Critical Guide” (Cambridge University Press, 2013); and the author of dozens of major articles and reviews across early modern philosophy. At Penn, she served from 2014 to 2019 as director of the Integrated Studies Program and currently serves as co-chair of the University Advisory Council to the Teachers Institute of Philadelphia and a member of the Faculty Advisory Board of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, among many other positions. She earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Toronto, an M.A. from the University of Western Ontario and a B.A. in English and philosophy from the University of Calgary. 

“I greatly look forward to working with Karen Detlefsen in this new role,” Winkelstein said. “She is a highly experienced teacher and scholar who is well-known across campus as one of our great mentors and collaborative leaders. She will work closely with me, Provost Pritchett and our many faculty, staff and student partners to help shape and implement our core educational initiatives going forward.”

The vice provost for education, reporting to the deputy provost, oversees undergraduate and graduate education at Penn, developing and implementing policies that promote academic excellence, innovative teaching and learning and interdisciplinary knowledge across the University. The vice provost chairs the Council of Undergraduate Deans, Council of Graduate Deans, Council of Professional Master’s Degree Deans, Graduate Council of the Faculties, and Faculty Advisory Council for Access and Academic Support Initiatives.