Michelle V. Switzer


Professor of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy

562.907.4200, ext. 4436

Academic History

B.A., Oberlin College
M.A., Ph.D., University of Toronto

Academic Focus

Social Philosophy
Anti-Colonial Philosophy
Philosophy of Race


Professor Switzer is a social philosopher studying ideology as the complex ways we are pressured to feel and behave against our own interests at the expense of oppressed peoples and nature. At the University of Toronto, she was trained in the Anglo-Analytic tradition of Philosophy, specializing in theories of ideology. Switzer was Visiting Professor in Philosophy at UCLA in 2004. At Whittier College since 1998, she has recreated her expertise in ideology in new fields. She works primarily in anti-colonial philosophy where peoples and cultures are essentially connected to nature and to place, where study is situated at the intersections of gender and diverse sexual and ethno-racial identities. Switzer’s pedagogy aspires to enact reciprocity in community though respectful methods of listening. Switzer’s courses focus on the study of “big ideas.” 

Since 1998, Professor Switzer has been part of diversification efforts in Philosophy. She received an Irvine Diversity Grant for curricular development in 2006 and a Faculty Development grant for curricular development in 2013 and teaches a wide range of a courses “centering” diversity. Switzer presented at the first ever ‘Diversity in Philosophy Conference’ sponsored by American Philosophical Association’s Committee for the Status of Women in 2013, and at the Southern California Feminist Philosophy Salon in 2015. She brings prominent influential Philosophers and Political Scientists to campus to speak on Philosophy of Race, Philosophy of Immigration, Latina Feminism, Title IX, Trans Philosophy, and Black Queer Feminism. Prof. Switzer serves as advisor and mentor for many early-career philosophers in the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program.

Professor Switzer contributes to interdisciplinary programs including Gender Studies and Environmental Studies and team-teaches with colleagues in a range of fields including Music, History, Political Science, Sociology, and Gender Studies.

Switzer has served in many faculty administrative capacities, as Department Chair of Philosophy, Coordinator of two interdisciplinary programs, Gender Studies, and Environmental Studies, as Chair of the Educational Policies Committee during a Strategic Review of new faculty positions, and on the Faculty Title IX Taskforce. She is currently and for the third time, Coordinator of Gender Studies.

Courses taught

  • Human Economies and Nature
  • Black Philosophy 
  • Latinx Philosophy
  • Feminist Philosophy of Science
  • Place and Colonialism
  • Time and Value
  • Feminist Philosophy
  • Rights of Migration
  • Contemporary Social Philosophy
  • Values, Nature, and Culture
  • History of Social Thought
  • Eco-Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Love and Sex
  • Africana Philosophy (on-line summer)


Resources: Undergraduate Diversity Institutes in Philosophy