Professor of Philosophy
Disagree and challenge assumptions! If you are a student in one of Dr. Nancy Billias’ classes, that’s what she expects from you. “When students give answers I say, ‘That’s good. But tell me more. There’s always more.'” Dr. Billias believes that Philosophy can’t be taught; it can only be learned, by thinking for yourself. She continues, “I teach by asking questions and helping people connect with the history of thought.” Above all, Dr. Billias encourages her students to open their minds, because that is the most important objective and benefit of studying Philosophy.
As an undergraduate, Dr. Billias remembers a professor showing her a thousand-year-old text. It expressed exactly what she was feeling at that moment. “It helped me see the inter-connectiveness in human searching, the same questions being explored. I tell students that what they are thinking and feeling is a reflection of universal thought.”
Among Dr. Billias’ areas of specialty are Continental Philosophy of Language, Ethics, Phenomenology, Philosophy and Literature, and the Philosophy of Translation. She connects Philosophy to many aspects of her personal life as well. As another way of encouraging “philosophy in action,” she practices and teaches Shintaido, a peaceful martial arts discipline that combines spirituality and body movement. “I am excited to be able to share Shintaido with the University community,” Dr. Billias says. “Staff, faculty and students take it together. It makes for a warm sense of community.”
Dr. Billias’ latest book (2017) is called “The Ethics of Silence: An Interdisciplinary Case Analysis Approach.” This volume is an interdisciplinary exploration of the modalities, meanings, and practices of silence in contemporary social discourse. How is silence treated in different cultures? In a globalized world, how is silence managed between and across cultures?
With her co-author, a behavioral economist from Darwin, Australia, Dr. Billias interviewed people from around the globe and from many walks of life. The text draws on interviews with scholars and practitioners in fields as diverse as marine biology and African American history. International case studies are presented in operational contexts from the Black Lives Matter movement to the creation of art installations to the struggles of transgender people in Southeast Asia. The authors examine the relationship between ethics and silence, and suggest strategies to transform social praxis through greater attention to silence.
B.A., Clark University
M.A., Claremont Graduate School
M.Th., University of Edinburgh, Scotland
M.S.Sc., New School University
Ph.D., Union Institute and Graduate School