Joshua Forstenzer

BA, MA, PhD (University of Sheffield), FHEA, FRSA

Department of Philosophy

Senior Lecturer in Philosophy

Director of Undergraduate Recruitment & Admissions

Joshua Forstenzer stood outside HRI building

Full contact details

Joshua Forstenzer
Department of Philosophy
45 Victoria Street
S3 7QB

I am a Lecturer in Philosophy and Co-Director of the Centre for Engaged Philosophy. Before that I was the Vice-Chancellor's Fellow for the Public Benefit of Higher Education and Faculty Fellow in the Social Sciences also at Sheffield. My research and teaching are driven by the sense that philosophy, at its best, can operate across disciplinary boundaries and engage meaningfully with public concerns. This is reflected in the modules I teach, my publications, and my previous activities as Philosopher-in-Residence for the Member of European Parliament Magid Magid, Democracy Visiting Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation in the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and Visiting Fellow at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. My teaching has been recognised with an Early Career Senate Teaching Award and an Outstanding Teaching Award. I have a rich interest in pedagogic innovation in the field of philosophy and facilitation techniques, so I work closely with international, national and local organisations dedicated to pedagogic innovation and to increasing the provision of philosophical activities in schools and in the wider community.

Research interests

My research interests are in philosophy of education, democratic theory, political and social philosophy, and American Pragmatism. My first book, Deweyan Experimentalism and the Problem of Method in Political Philosophy (Routledge, 2019) addresses the relevance of John Dewey's philosophy for contemporary social and political philosophy. I have also published papers on Dewey's democratic ideal, theories of citizen disengagement, Richard Rorty's ethnocentric liberalism, the benefits of philosophical education, and epistemic vice in higher education policy.

My current projects address the role of gratitude in Cornel West's prophetic pragmatism, the significance of 'consummatory experiences' in undergraduate education, and the civic benefits of philosophical education. In particular, Dr Vachararutai Boontinand and I were awarded a British Academy Newton Advanced Fellowship and a Thailand Research Fund grant to undertake a project entitled 'Philosophical Enquiry as a Pedagogy for Teaching Critical Thinking and Democratic Citizenship in Higher Education' (2018-2021).




  • Forstenzer J (2019) Deweyan Experimentalism and the Problem of Method in Political Philosophy. Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


  • Forstenzer J (2021) Re-enchanting Undergraduate Education: On the Project of Metamorphosis in English Higher Education, Debating Higher Education: Philosophical Perspectives (pp. 81-92). Springer Singapore RIS download Bibtex download
  • Forstenzer J (2019) Beyond Relativism? Rorty and MacIntyre on Historicism and Progress In Müller M (Ed.), Handbuch Richard Rorty Springer VS View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Forstenzer JI (2017) Reconsidering Dewey's Democratic Socialism in the Age of Populism In Reder M, Filipovic A, Finkelde D & Wallacher J (Ed.), Jahrbuch Praktische Philosophie in Globaler Perspektive / Yearbook Practical Philosophy in a Global Perspective Schwerpunkt: Pragmatistische Impulse / Focus: Exploring Pragmatist Options (pp. 50-73). Munchen: Verlag Karl Aber. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Forstenzer JI (2016) Humanism, Democracy and Engaged Learning RIS download Bibtex download
  • Forstenzer J (2012) Education, active citizenship and applied social intelligence: Some democratic tools to meet the threat of climate change, Rethinking Climate Change Research: Clean Technology, Culture and Communication (pp. 177-191). RIS download Bibtex download
  • Forstenzer J () Paying Tribute: Cornel West’s Prophetic Gratitude as Social Movement Building and Self-Transcendence In Siddiqui M & Vette N (Ed.), A Theology of Gratitude: Christian and Muslim Perspectives RIS download Bibtex download

Book reviews

  • Forstenzer J (2015) "Inequality and the 1%" by Danny Dorling. Marx and Philosophy Review of Books. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Forstenzer J (2011) A Pragmatist Philosophy of Democracy. Journal of Moral Philosophy, 8(1), 161-164. RIS download Bibtex download

Conference proceedings papers

  • Forstenzer J (2018) Something Has Cracked: Post-Truth Politics and Richard Rorty’s Postmodernist Bourgeois Liberalism. Ash Center Occasional Papers, Vol. July 2018. Cambridge, Massachusetts View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download


  • Forstenzer J (2016) Written evidence submitted by Dr. Joshua Forstenzer (PQE0106) in response to 'Purpose and quality of education in England' Parliamentary inquiry RIS download Bibtex download
  • Forstenzer JI (2016) The Teaching Excellence Framework: What's the Purpose? View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Forstenzer J (2015) Written evidence by Dr Joshua Forstenzer (QHE 13) in response to 'Assessing quality in Higher Education' Parliamentary inquiry RIS download Bibtex download

Website content

Research group

I am keen to supervise postgraduate students in the Philosophy Department or through the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies. Students interested in the philosophy of education, democratic theory, social and political philosophy (especially those working in the traditions of pragmatism and critical theory), and American Pragmatism are welcome to get in touch with me.

Primary supervision:

  • Peter Worley: Why Philosophy for Children? The Greeks and the Pragmatists 
  • Tahmin Yesmin Shova: Active Citizenship and Multiculturalism

Secondary supervision:

  • Bayram Gunce: Religious Education and Critical Realism 
Teaching interests

My undergraduate teaching is driven by an engaged pedagogic outlook, rooted in the Deweyan tradition of 'learning by doing'. Having received training from both SAPERE and The Philosophy Foundation, my teaching is also influenced by pedagogic practices rooted in the practice of the community of philosophical enquiry, as well pedagogic efforts spear-headed by the Yale Center for Faith and Culture to bridge the gap between philosophical and religious thinking and practical orientation.

In practice, my 2nd year module 'Philosophy of Education' and my 3rd year and MA module 'How to Change the World From Here: Utopia, Reform, and Democracy' invite my students to engage with both theoretical content and practical experiences, resulting in assessments combining writing essays and reflective journals.

Teaching activities
Teaching Activities:

PHI 226 - Philosophy of Education
PHI 31011 - How to Change the World From Here? Utopia, Reform and Democracy
PHI 356 - Philosophical Project: The Philosophy of Higher Education

PHI 61012 - How to Change the World From Here? Utopia, Reform and Democracy