Hi! I'm Kevin deLaplante.
I designed this site and produce all of the content for the
Critical Thinker Academy.
When I'm not working on Academy stuff I teach at Iowa State University in the Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies.
I did an undergraduate degree in Physics at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
(my hometown). I did an MA and PhD in Philosophy at the University of Western Ontario, where I graduated in 1998. For one year I worked at Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia before coming to Iowa State University in 1999. I was tenured at Iowa State in 2005.
From 2008-2012 I was Chair of the Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Iowa State.
I'm a philosopher of science by training. University of Western Ontario has a strong reputation in the philosophy of science and I took good advantage of the expertise there when I was a graduate student (1991-1998).
My doctoral work was in the philosophy of ecology and its relationship to issues in environmental philosophy. My published work has focused on the history and philosophy of ecology, environmental philosophy, and philosophical issues in the sciences of complexity (network theory, self-organization theory, etc.).
Recently I've spent a lot of time thinking and reading about critical thinking and its various components. Most of my expertise in these areas comes from teaching the material in my classes, producing the tutorial and podcast content for this site, and learning from a growing community of scholars working
I've been teaching university level philosophy courses for almost 20 years now, if you count graduate school teaching. Over the years I've taught multiple sections of Introduction to Philosophy, Applied Ethics, Environmental Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Physics and Philosophy of Ecology, and I've taught some kind of introductory Critical Thinking class for most of these years.
There have been some unusual one-shot courses. At University of Western Ontario I taught "Professional Ethics for Art Therapists" for the Masters Program in Art Therapy, and in 2004 I taught an intensive one-week Environmental Ethics course for the PhD Program in Environmental Management at the University of Zagreb in Croatia.
For several summers I taught one-week courses for young high school and middle school students (ages 12-17, average age 14). I alternated between courses on Introduction to Philosophy and special topic courses like Space, Time and Einstein, which covered material that I usually teach in my Philosophy of Physics class. It's been gratifying to see some of these students show up in my university classes years later.
Motivations for the Critical Thinker Academy
One motivation for developing this site was my conviction that this material is deeply important and should be accessible to as wide an audience as possible. Basic critical thinking and communication skills are necessary for success in any academic subject, and frankly in all areas of work and private life. Critical thinking is especially important in modern democratic societies where citizens have a duty to think for themselves and take responsibility for the actions of their elected officials.
So I wanted to make the information that I was teaching accessible to a wider audience beyond the university setting -- to high school students, home schooled students, working adults, and people who never had the chance to go to college or who never had the opportunity to study these sorts of subjects when they were in college.
A second motivation for the Academy came from certain frustrations with my career as a university professor within a research-oriented university setting, writing scholarly articles that only a handful of people would ever read and teaching the same material over and over to small groups of students.
My passion is learning and teaching, and so I created a platform that gave me an excuse to continually learn new things, and to share what I've learned with a broader audience. The Academy lets me do what I love on my own terms, outside the confines of academia.
The actual organization of the site is just the latest in a long series of iterations and experiments. I've had a version of the site online since 2009, and since then it has been hosted on several different platforms, implemented several different monetization strategies and had several different designs. I guarantee it will change again in the future.
About the Tutorial Courses
About the Podcast
About the Blog