Ramona Ilea is an Associate Professor and Chair in the Philosophy Department at Pacific University, outside Portland, Oregon. She specializes in animal and environmental ethics, normative ethics, and civic engagement.
What do you like to do outside work?
I love eating vegan desserts, watching movies, and hiking with my partner and our extremely playful rescued dog. I also love making crafts out of recycled materials. I make stuff for myself (accessories, clothes, notebooks, Halloween costumes), but I prefer contributing to the recycled crafts sales my students organize almost every year to raise money for various non-profits. I really enjoy thinking of creative uses for what would otherwise end up being thrown out!
What are you most proud of in your professional life?
I’m really passionate about recognizing and promoting the work other philosophers are doing. I enjoyed co-editing two books, Consequentialism and Environmental Ethics and Experiential Learning and Philosophy, and I am the general editor of Essays in Philosophy. But I’m most proud of setting up (with Susan Hawthorne and Monica Janzen) Engaged Philosophy, a web site that is focused on giving faculty and students tools to implement activist or service projects in philosophy classes. Right now, we are working on a series of interviews with philosophers who are doing really inspiring work with their students.
Name a trait, skill or characteristic that you have that others may not know about.
People often don’t believe me when I say that I was born in Transylvania, but it’s true. I was born right in the center of Transylvania, which is a part of Romania. I moved to Canada when I was 15 (after being separated from my mom and sister for 3.5 years due to immigration/political reasons). I received my U.S. citizenship 4 years ago, but I also retained my Romanian and Canadian citizenships.
What is your favorite thing that you’ve written?
I’m interested in seeing how philosophical work can contribute to public debates and social issues in ways that are rigorous, thoughtful, and distinctly philosophical. But I am aware that most of what I write is likely to have less than … ten or so readers. However, one of my articles, “Intensive Livestock Farming: Global Trends, Increased Environmental Concerns, and Ethical Solutions” was reprinted in a textbook and has been cited in almost 100 articles and books. This is particularly exciting because this paper is about the ways in which factory farming harms the environment, which is an issue I am very passionate about.
What cause or charity do you care about most?
I care deeply about effective altruism. I absolutely love GiveWell; they do rigorous research to identify evidence-backed and thoroughly vetted charities. I also strongly recommend Peter Singer’s web site The Life You Can Save.
What is your favorite holiday and why?
Even though I was born in Transylvania, I never dressed up as a vampire. But I really like Halloween. I love the creativity people show and the playfulness of it all. I absolutely love teaching logic and I wanted to be a logician for a while. So, a few years ago, I decided to be Spock. I got pointy ears and Vulcan eyebrows, made a costume, and I even cut my hair to match Spock’s haircut. This haircut was not particularly flattering, but being Spock for one day was a lot of fun!
Find out more about Ramona here.
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