Dr. Michael Forman is an as­sociate professor in the divi­sion of politics, philosophy and public affairs — a division of the school of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences — with several of his courses involving political theory. Dr. Forman has a deep love for politics and phi­losophy, and has always imagined him­self as a lifelong student, encouraging current students to explore the various opportunities available to them and focus on building relationships with their classmates and professors. Amid his busy schedule, Dr. Forman took some time to share more about himself and his work with The Ledger.

Q: WHERE DID YOU ATTEND COLLEGE AS AN UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE STUDENT?

A: I did my undergraduate work at Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin. I took a double major in Government and International Relations with a mi­nor in Economics. My master’s in Government is from the University of Texas, Austin. My doctorate in Politi­cal Science was granted by Rutgers University where my major field was Political Theory and my minor fields were Political Economy and Com­parative Politics.

Q: HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON YOUR FIELD OF STUDY/EXPERTISE? WHAT DREW YOU TO THE SUBJECT?

A: When I started college, my in­tention was to study either Astronomy or Anthropology. Because Beloit was a liberal arts college, I was able to take courses in a variety of disciplines. In the end, two professors inspired me to study politics. Later, in graduate school, two other professors instilled an undying love for political theory and philosophy. All told, four profs influenced me deeply.

Q: WHEN DID YOU DECIDE THAT YOU WANTED TO BE A PROFESSOR? WHAT DREW YOU TO UWT?

A: After college I held a few jobs, then went on for a master’s. Sometime around then, I came to the conclusion that school was better than the alterna­tives. Still, a couple of years after start­ing on a Ph.D, I spent half a decade working for the Bureau of Housing Services of the State of New Jersey. I returned to school when I finally real­ized that I was a lifelong student. I still think of myself as, essentially, a student who attends faculty meetings to pay the rent.

Q: WHAT CLASSES DO YOU TEACH HERE AT UW TACOMA? WHICH ONES DO YOU MOST ENJOY TEACHING?

A: My favorite classes are what­ever courses I happen to be teaching now… Overall, I would say that there are two I very much like to offer: In­troduction to Political Values and Ideas and Political Theory of Human Rights. Beyond this, I have a reper­toire of 13 or so different classes in­cluding the PPPA senior seminar and The Enlightenment.

Q: WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT TEACHING AT UWT?

A:. I came to UWT after teaching at Whitman College in Walla Walla. Part of the attraction was being in a major metropolitan area — I am city boy. Mostly, though, I like the student body. It is mixed in a variety of ways. And, most importantly, I am very proud of the accomplishments of many of my students. A few are now profes­sors themselves, several are lawyers and community leaders, many are either engaged in careers whose goals are to serve society and their com­munities or preparing for such careers.

Q: WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF BEING A PROFESSOR?

A: Meetings — lots and lots of fac­ulty meetings…

Q: WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU OFFER UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS?

A: The first is [to] explore! The uni­versity offers so many choices and so many opportunities you never knew about. I know that it often feels as if time and resources are running out. But, do realize that the liberal arts col­lege, such as SIAS at UWT, is America’s distinct contribution to post-second­ary education. Nowhere else in the world do you find this. Its main ad­vantage is precisely giving students the opportunity to achieve a well-rounded education by expanding their horizons beyond their own unique experiences. The second is get to know your profes­sors and your classmates. They will enrich your time in school and some of them will become lifelong friends.

Q: WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN YOU ARE NOT TEACHING? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR HOBBIES?

A: My favorite activities are dogs, mystery and science fiction books and movies and the opera.

With my previous dog, Sal, I did competition obedience and other events. Little Herbie — named for 20th century political theorist Herbert Mar­cuse — is still too young, but I have high hopes for him in conformation, obedience, and rally. Herbie is an American Water Spaniel.


Fun Facts:

  • Dr. Forman grew up in Bogotá, Columbia.
  • He is trilingual and speaks English, Spanish and French.
  • Every four years, Dr. Forman goes into a World Cup frenzy — the only time he considers nationalism acceptable.

COURTESY OF PROF. FORMAN
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