Man of Ideas and Questions
Versatile Professor Models History of Ideas
He’s a man of ideas and questions.
“My focus,” says David Fisher, professor of philosophy, “is to teach in a way that engages students, excites them and connects them with a whole range of ways of thinking and seeing.”
North Central’s acclaimed History of Ideas program is a perfect fit for Fisher, who regularly teaches courses that cross multiple disciplines and blend philosophy, history, politics and literature into a seamless course of study … a study of ideas. He also teaches ethics, philosophy of law and graduate level courses.
“Dr. Fisher is really about dialogue,” says Ryan Peters ’07, an English literature major. “He’s never given me an easy answer and has never dismissed my ideas even when they may have seemed outlandish.”
Catherine Kustusch ’06 says Fisher is one of the reasons she’s at North Central. “He chooses to go the extra mile for his students … and challenges us to step out of our comfort zones and to think outside our boxes.”
Fisher believes questions are part of that dialogue. “I’m concerned that students make connections with the material that make it come to life,” he says, “and that they raise questions in their mind, imagination and spirit.”
He often asks his students to bring one or two questions on the day’s reading for class discussion. After reading The Iliad by Homer, one student asked: What does death have to do with love? “It’s precisely the kind of question we want people to raise,” says Fisher. The lively, provocative discussions that followed led him to include the issue as part of a future course on love in the History of Ideas program.
Fisher’s enthusiasm for teaching was sparked as an undergraduate student at Carleton College. A visiting professor had an engaging style that combined his passion about ideas and his many interests, from music and literature to science. “His different interests made him a great teacher and someone I wanted to emulate,” recalls Fisher. “Ever since, that’s been a focus for me.”
Fisher has nurtured his own areas of interest, including reading and writing poetry and creating fictional stories for his children and grandchildren. He even tried his hand at professional acting. Traveling to the Balkan States and teaching students in Kosovo and Macedonia have been ongoing passions.
And, for nearly 25 years, he’s been an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church and now serves as a priest associate at Trinity Episcopal Church in Wheaton, Ill. Although a part-time career, this second vocation has shaped his values and his teaching. “I’m a better priest because of what I do as a professor,” says Fisher, and the reverse is also true.
He’s inspired many of his students to pursue teaching, just as a professor once inspired him. Brady Gunnink ’06 is one, calling Fisher “a wonderful model for how to share knowledge with the youth of tomorrow.” Peters, who plans to become a college professor, adds, “Without Dr. Fisher’s subtle but steady influence, and ever-present encouragement, I cannot honestly say that I would have such a desire. What I do know … is that every day that I dress myself as a scholar and a professor, I will think of Dr. Fisher’s example and hope that I can be but a little of what he is.”
David H. Fisher, Ph.D. Professor of Philosophy
Professor of Philosophy, 1995-present
Associate Professor of Philosophy, 1988-1995
Clarence F. Dissinger Award for Outstanding Senior Faculty, North Central College, 2005
Coordinator of History of Ideas Program, North Central College, 1998-2003
Ph.D. and M.A. in Philosophical Theology, Vanderbilt University, 1976, 1973
M.A. in Religion and Drama, Columbia University-Union Theological Seminary, 1967
B.A. in History, Carleton College, 1965