Dr. Joel J. Kassiola

College of Arts & Humanities, San Francisco State University

About Me


assiola’s teaching and research interests lie within the field of political theory or political philosophy. He has introduced several courses on both coasts reflecting his special interests: literature and politics; contemporary moral and political issues; the politics and ethics of the consumer society; and, political values and the environment; the latter being his main research interest for the past 25 years and expressed in the San Francisco State University Political Science 354 course: “Politics, the Environment and Social Change.”

Early in his career, Kassiola published journal articles on various political themes: epistemology and methodology for political inquiry; Karl Popper’s philosophy of science and the conduct of political inquiry; affirmative action and justice; and epistemological defense of participatory democracy; literature and political values; biology and political inquiry; power and authority; and how to write rationally persuasive essays. Then he turned to the significance of the modern social value of continuous or limitless economic growth for the contemporary environmental crisis.

In all of these works, Kassiola has attempted to bring the attention of political theorists and their students to subjects and ideas overlooked at the time: Popper’s philosophy of science; Camus’s political viewpoint; the philosophical literature on affirmative action; the value of literature to political theory; and, most prominently, the political theoretical and environmental significance for the modern industrial culture’s preoccupation with the denial of limits and endless economic growth. Concerning the last theme, he published an article in Philosophy and Social Criticism [see publications list] and a book entitled: The Death of Industrial Civilization: The Limits to Economic Growth and the Repoliticization of Advanced Industrial Society published by The State University of New York Press in 1990. Most recently, he has edited a volume dedicated to bringing the new academic field that Kassiola has worked to create, environmental political theory, to the attention of undergraduate and graduate students of the environment by collecting the works of an international group of political theorists of the environment together in a volume entitled:
Explorations in Environmental Political Theory: Thinking About What We Value that was published in February, 2003 by M.E. Sharpe. This path-breaking work contains an introduction to the nature of political theory, 8 essays by the contributors—including one by Kassiola on the tragic nature of modernity and the role it plays as a normative cause of the environmental and social crises. In addition, this volume contains a concluding section on the nature of modernity, and for the first time a comprehensive, thematic Recommended Reading List to assist students new to the field to advance their studies. Lastly, as an Afterward in this volume, there is an essay on the surprising value of despair and its relevance to both the aftermath of September 11 and understanding and responding to the environmental crisis.

As of the Fall, 2003, Kassiola has an essay forthcoming in the journal Environmental Values entitled: “Can Environmental Ethics ‘Solve’ Environmental Problems and Save the World? Yes, But First We Must Recognize the Essential Normative Nature of Environmental Problems.” xx

Education and Professional Experience
Teaching and
Research Interests
Teaching Philosophy
Academic Honors
Message for the College of BSS (link)
PLSI 353 - Political Theory of the Twentieth Century  
PLSI 354 - Politics, The Environment, and Social Change
PLSI/PHIL 150 Contemporary Moral and Political Issues
PLSI/PHIL 355 - The Politics and the Ethics of the Consumer Society
PLSI 275 - Introduction to Western Political Theory
College of BSS
San Francisco State University
Contact Information

Phone: (415) 338-3463
Fax: (415) 338-1980
Office: HSS 353
E-mail: kassiola@sfsu.edu

Dr. Joel J. Kassiola
College of Arts & Humanities
San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Ave
San Francisco, CA 94132





Last updated January 31, 2012