Karen Detlefsen

Karen Detlefsen began her tenure as Vice Provost for Education on July 1, 2021. 

Prof. Detlefsen is a Professor of Philosophy in the School of Arts and Sciences and Affiliated Faculty of the Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality, and Women, with a secondary appointment in the Graduate School of Education. At Penn, she has served as Director of the Integrated Studies Program; Founding Director of Penn’s Project for Philosophy for the Young, which advances philosophy education for K-12 students across the Philadelphia region; Chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Education in the College of Arts and Sciences; Faculty Advisory Board member of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships; and Co-Chair of the University Advisory Council to the Teachers Institute of Philadelphia.

She is a leading global scholar of early modern philosophy who has taught at Penn since 2001, with particular interests in women in the history of philosophy, the history and philosophy of education, and the history and philosophy of science. She has been awarded both the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, the highest University-wide teaching honor, and the Kahn Award for Distinguished Teaching by an Assistant Professor in the School of Arts and Sciences. 

Prof. Detlefsen is co-editor of The Routledge Handbook of Early Modern European Women Philosophers (Routledge, 2022) and Women and Liberty, 1600-1800 (Oxford University Press, 2017); editor of Descartes’ Meditations: A Critical Guide (Cambridge University Press, 2013); and the author of dozens of major articles and reviews across early modern philosophy. She earned a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Toronto, an MA from the University of Western Ontario, and a BA in English and Philosophy from the University of Calgary. 

The Vice Provost for Education oversees undergraduate and graduate education at Penn, developing and implementing policies that promote academic excellence, innovative teaching and learning, and interdisciplinary knowledge across the University. The Vice Provost chairs the Council of Undergraduate Deans, the Council of Graduate Deans, the Council of Professional Master’s Degree Deans, the Graduate Council of the Faculties, and the Faculty Advisory Council for Access and Academic Support Initiatives.