Ph.D. Graduate Recognized for Excellence in Teaching

Woman with shoulder length black hair is smiling at the camera. She is wearing a white blouse

During her time at Michigan State University, Youjin Kong, a recent Ph.D. graduate from the Department of Philosophy, has taught a variety of philosophy and interdisciplinary humanities courses. She recently received the 2019 Somers Teaching Excellence Award, which recognizes graduate student instructors who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence, innovation, and creativity in undergraduate teaching.

“The primary goal of my teaching is to encourage students to develop their critical philosophical lenses, through which they can engage in real-world issues,” Kong said. “As an underrepresented minority in Anglophone philosophy (Asian woman), I am committed to fostering more inclusive and diverse learning environments.”

Within the field of philosophy, Kong specializes in Feminist Philosophy, Social and Political Philosophy, and Ethics. She has published multiple articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Social Philosophy Today and The Pluralist, and gained recognition for her work as an awardee of the Best Paper Prize at the 2016 Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy meeting.

Last month, she defended her dissertation and received her Ph.D.

As an underrepresented minority in Anglophone philosophy (Asian woman), I am committed to fostering more inclusive and diverse learning environments.


Kong’s dissertation, Reconceptualizing Women for Intersectional Feminism, examines how to reformulate the concept of “women” in order to implement feminist theory in a more intersectional way. Her dissertation is grounded in intersectionality and proposes a “Situated Redefinition” model, which states that the concept of women should always be open to new definitions that are socio-historically situated in intersectional oppression.

To inform her research, Kong studied multiple scholarly publications about intersectionality from other disciplinary fields such as sociology and legal theory and participated as a philosophy panelist at the 2019 International Intersectionality Conference.

Kong received both her B.A. and M.A. in Philosophy from Seoul National University in South Korea before coming to MSU to pursue her Ph.D.

“I believed that MSU would be the best place for me, since MSU’s graduate program in Philosophy had great strength in feminist, critical race, social and political philosophy. And it was the right decision,” Kong said. “I confidently believe that I have enhanced my ability as a scholar and teacher through working with faculty members and fellow graduate students whose research interests are well-suited to mine.”

After Kong graduates, she will start her position as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Oregon State University. As for her research, she plans to develop a more detailed account of how power affects identity and she will continue exploring methodologies that help researchers do social theory in a more inclusive way.

Written by Annie Dubois