Published: Oct. 2, 2020

Dan Sturgis

With great sadness, the Philosophy Department reports that our friend and colleague, Dan Sturgis, passed away earlier this week. Dr. Sturgis earned his BA in Philosophy and Political Science in 1992 from Northwestern University and his PhD from our department in 2002, writing a dissertation ‘Prairies and Paintings: The Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature and Art,’ under the direction of now Professor Emeritus John A. Fisher. He then taught for the department every year after that, first as an Instructor and then, starting in 2010, as a Senior Instructor. He taught courses in applied ethics, critical thinking, ethics, and social and political philosophy. His courses ‘War and Morality,’ ‘Social and Political Philosophy,’ and ‘Environmental Ethics’ were particularly popular. Dan was also one of the founders of the department’s philosophy outreach program (POPCO) when he was a graduate student, and he continued to play a leading role in the program as its faculty advisor in the years that followed. He was also an assistant and director for the Summer Philosophy Institute of Colorado in 1997-8 and 2005-6.
In an interview with one of his classes a couple of years ago, his students were unanimous in telling one of our colleagues that Dan was “funny, nice, and down to earth,” and unanimous in praising him for his “engaging and interactive” teaching style and his consistent clarity and fairness in all of his interactions with them. In a series of letters from his students that the department received just last fall, one student called Dan a “more than wonderful professor,” saying he did “an amazing job” in his class. A second student, a combat veteran who took Dan’s class on war and morality, specifically praised Dan’s handling of the experience of veterans in that class while another student in the same class called it simply a “great class.” And yet another student said that Dan was “amazing” and “inspiring” in his introduction to philosophy class and that he was “absolutely one of the best professors that I’ve ever had.”
Dan won numerous teaching awards, including the Lindley Stiles ‘The Best Should Teach’ award in 2000, the Graduate Teaching Excellence Award in 2000, and the ‘Teacher Who Makes a Significant Difference’ Award in 1999. He spent over a decade as an Academic Advisor to all undergraduate majors and minors in philosophy and he directed numerous undergraduate and graduate students in independent studies in Philosophy and Environmental Studies.
Dan was a kind and lovely person, passionate about teaching philosophy, a great outdoorsman who reveled in backcountry skiing, mountain biking, hiking, camping, and fishing, and a loving and devoted husband and father. He is sorely missed by his colleagues.
Dan leaves behind a wife and two young children. A friend of the family has set up a GoFundMe page to provide support for them. For those who might be inclined to make a contribution, the donation page can be found here.

Friends, colleagues and students of Dan’s are invited to join us for a department memorial gathering for Dan Sturgis. It will take place via Zoom on Friday October 9, starting at 6pm. Please contact David Boonin ( for the Zoom link. 

You can read Dr. Sturgis' CV here.