Faculty Spotlight: Wes Jorde

Philosophy instructor completes sabbatical in the Netherlands

Wes Jorde is a philosophy instructor in the General Education department at Dakota County Technical College. Wes holds a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, an M.A. in Teaching from the University of St. Thomas, and a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Writing from Hamline University.

Wes completed his undergraduate degree at Luther College with majors in philosophy and English. Before coming to DCTC, he taught English at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights, Minnesota. Wes studied Scandinavian languages and culture at the University of Bergen, Norway, and recently spent a sabbatical period exploring the philosophy of technology and researching technical education in the Netherlands.

“Studying philosophy involves learning techniques for analysis and evaluation that should be applied in all careers. Also, philosophy complements understanding of self and others, education, the arts, work, technology, and daily activities such as shopping and driving.”
— Wes Jorde, Philosophy Faculty, Dakota County Technical College

With a focus on practical skills in his instruction, Wes describes his teaching philosophy as follows: “I design my courses so students learn processes of analysis and evaluation they can use in the real world.”

Wes serves as a faculty co-advisor for the Creative Arts and Writing Club and enjoys attending Multicultural Student Leadership Association (MSLA) meetings and events. He chairs the Academic Affairs and Standards Council and is the faculty legislative liaison. He is interested in the philosophy of language, technology, continental philosophy, poetry, theater and Scandinavian culture.

Originally from Rochester, Minnesota, Wes graduated from Mayo High School, Class of 1987. He started working at DCTC in June 2005. His parents reside in Rochester, and he has one brother, who lives with his family in Duluth. Wes resides in St. Paul near Selby-Dale.

Student perspective

Daneel Rakow, 20, of Rosemount, Minnesota, is a sophomore at DCTC majoring in Software Development. Daneel’s career plans are centered on working as a back-end software developer with possibility of furthering his education down the road.

In spring 2019, Daneel took Wes Jorde’s Philosophy of Technology and Design course; he is looking forward to taking Wes’s Critical Thinking course this fall.

“Philosophy of Technology and Design was a great class,” Daneel said. “There are so many factors and decisions that go into designing technology and how it has evolved. Even such simple things as a plastic water bottle have an immense amount of thought behind it.”

Daneel added that his class read passages from Aristotle as well as more contemporary philosophers such as Andrew Feenberg and Lewis Mumford.

“It’s incredible how every opinion from these philosophers are applicable to so many things in our lives today,” he said. “I recommend this class to everyone, as it promotes thinking about the world around us in a different way—and the class definitely changed how I look at the world.”

Wes reports on his sabbatical in the Netherlands¹

Wes Jorde

Wes Jorde

Last summer, I traveled to Twente, a region in the eastern Netherlands, a region roughly the same geographic size as Dakota County and 50 percent larger in population. Twente is residence to 55,000 students of higher technical education, each attending one of ROC Twente, Saxion University, or the University of Twente. I stayed for a one-semester sabbatical.

I chose Twente as a result of advice from Diane Michelfelder, editor of Techné, a journal for the philosophy of technology, and professor of philosophy at Macalester College. Professor Michelfelder advised that the Netherlands has a focus in the philosophy of technology and that the University of Twente has a graduate program in the Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Society. I visited schools, conducted interviews, and took two courses related to the philosophy of technology.

Wes’s Top 10 Reasons Why the Netherlands

Wes’s Top 10 Professional Highlights from the Sabbatical

In the late fall, I met with John Van der Vegt, President of ROC Twente, and Martin Mulder, a leading international researcher in technical education. We met for dinner and conversation on the campus of ROC Twente, a school similar to DCTC in funding and programs. President Van der Vegt was interested in DCTC; and as a result of that meeting, we can expect to have some Dutch visitors at some point in the future.

I lived in Enschede, a city of 160,000. I enjoyed the quaint neighborhoods, the Dutch and German spoken in the city center, and the bicyclists who flooded the cobblestone streets before and after work. I learned new ways for thinking about technology and learned how technical education happens in the Netherlands.

After returning in January, I taught my own course in the philosophy of technology. Here are some titles of papers students wrote at the end of the term.

  • “Using AutoCAD for Building Your Dream House: Egbert Schuurman and Alasdair Macintyre”
  • “Human and Machine Operated Assembly Lines: A Comparison of Ray Kurzweil and Hubert Dreyfus”
  • “Morning Routine Made Best by Cold Brew Coffee: Perspectives from Lewis Mumford and Andrew Feenberg”
  • “Bruno Latour and Landon Winner: Power, Ethics, and the US Bank Sports Stadium”

I plan to write about technology and education myself in the future.

Wes teaches the following courses at DCTC:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Critical Thinking for College Success
  • Introduction to Logic
  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Ethics
  • Medical Ethics
  • Philosophy of Sex and Love
  • Philosophy of the Arts and Architecture
  • Philosophy of Technology and Design

Watch for Wes’s talks at DCTC:

  • Technical Education in the Netherlands
  • Technologies of the Netherlands
  • Borders and Dutch Culture
  • Literary Landmarks of Amsterdam
¹ Wes paid for all costs of transportation, lodging, and meals for the sabbatical.

The Netherlands sabbatical gallery

Wes Jorde Q & A

Wes Jorde

Wes Jorde

Why did you choose philosophy as the foundation of your teaching career?
I wanted students to think about philosophy in an academic setting. DCTC programming wanted this, too. Originally, I chose English because of the importance of reading and writing about literature.

Why is studying philosophy important for students on any career path?
Studying philosophy involves learning techniques for analysis and evaluation that should be applied in all careers. Also, philosophy complements understanding of self and others, education, the arts, work, technology, and daily activities such as shopping and driving.

How would you describe your philosophic approach to teaching philosophy?
Strategic, academic and personal: these facilitate efficient and effective learning. I think it’s important that course readings include the cannon.

What do you like best about teaching college students?
They have a lot to offer in their response to readings.

Who is your favorite philosopher and why?
Michel Foucault because of his intent and his writing style.

Who is your least favorite philosopher and why?
I find Peter Singer’s writing somewhat boring.

Why should college students continuously strive to improve their writing skills?
Everyone can always improve their writing skills, and writing skills can pay off greatly in the workplace and other settings.

One word that best describes your experience at DCTC:


Wes Jorde 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Raquetball
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Athens, Greece
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Skied a glacier in Norway
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Support the scholarships of DCTC 2) Invest in virtual reality platforms for education 3) Study money management
  5. Favorite TV show you’re watching now: Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
  6. Best movie you’ve seen lately: Taxi Driver
  7. One thing you want to accomplish in life: Write more
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Blue jay
  9. Dream occupation: I’m in it; maybe add more hills and some water out back
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Writing first drafts
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: How to respond to issues arising from oncoming technologies
Learn more about Wes’s sabbatical report and the Philosophy courses he teaches at DCTC by contacting:

Wes Jorde
Philosophy Faculty
Creative Arts and Writing Club Faculty Co-Advisor