David Kolb

I grew up mostly in the New York City suburbs, studied with the Jesuits, received a Ph.D. from Yale, taught at Fordham University, the University of Chicago, Nanzan University in Japan, and as the Charles A. Dana Professor of Philosophy at Bates College in Maine. Since moving to Eugene, Oregon, in 2006 I’ve been full-time writing and lecturing.

After growing up in a placid suburb near the excitements of New York City, reading nature books and science fiction, becoming a high school debater and amateur astronomer, I embarked on an intensive Jesuit education steeped in ancient literature and art. When I ran headlong into the 60s demands to question everything, and then the 70s encounter with other cultures and histories. I was torn by a clash between old and new. I felt caught between the rich textures of the old and the excitement of new and open horizons. It was time for a change in philosophy and architecture and writing, yet without losing the accumulated treasures of the past. I wanted to hold on to the past without being held back, shaping new traditions and values for our new world.

So I have written about what it means to live with historical connections and traditions at a time when we are no longer completely shaped by our history. I’ve explored this through architecture and urbanism, where these issues take concrete form, and through new styles of writing and scholarship, as well as more abstract approaches using ideas from Hegel and other philosophers. I find new linked and less centered unities emerging in our cities and our buildings, in our lives and our ways of writing and thinking. How do we creatively and critically renew ourselves and our places?

…If you would like to know more after reading the brief statement above, I have been writing some memoir essays which are available for download by clicking on the links below.

  • Growing Up : 1939 – 1957” explores my childhood on military bases and New York suburbia.  (11k words, PDF).
  • House of Cards : 1957-1969” reflects on the virtues and failings of the intense education and training I received in the Jesuit order, why I decided to enter the order and why I decided to leave.  (15k words, PDF).
  • Life Teaching, 1972-2004” describes the events of our life moving from place to place while teaching and  how my intellectual world changed during my teaching career.