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.
- 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.