David Gandolfo

Associate Professor of Philosophy; Undergraduate Evening Studies Faculty

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Dr. David Ignatius Gandolfo. I am an Associate Professor of Philosophy, and Chair of the Poverty Studies program at Furman University. My main teaching interests include the Ethics of Globalization, Poverty Studies, Latin American Philosophy and Africana Philosophy. My research interests include economic ethics, liberation philosophy, international justice, and the responsibility of a university in the realm of social justice. The thread that ties my research and teaching interests together is a concern for what those at the center of world power can learn from critiques of the status quo being offered from the standpoints of those on the global margins.

I came to philosophy after working for nearly a decade on economic and social development programs in Africa. Once I turned to philosophy, I was attracted to the work of the Latin American thinker, Ignacio Ellacuría, a philosopher and theologian assassinated by a death squad in 1989 because of his solidarity with the poor and marginalized of the Global South. I spent two years in El Salvador studying Ellacuría’s works. Now, I regularly take students on Study-Away programs to Latin America.
I am married to the theologian, Dr. Elizabeth O’Donnell Gandolfo. We have four small children. Originally from the Philadelphia area, we have lived in Greenville, South Carolina, since 2003.


  • Ph.D., Loyola University of Chicago


I consider it my first responsibility as a philosophy teacher to bring students to an awareness of why and how philosophy is important to them.  Fundamentally, I want my students to find philosophy inspirational.  I want my students to see the need to reflect upon their lives and their world, to feel how much richer life is, especially the college years, if they are not on automatic pilot but are, rather, tackling the difficult questions about what might make their lives profoundly meaningful, about how society should be structured, about what they could/should do to build a better world and more meaningful lives for themselves and others.  All genuine questions, as the original gadfly noted, are irritating.  So the pedagogical trick is to make the students comfortable enough to ask the disturbing questions that might radically disrupt their lives.  I really want them to be on fire for these questions.  If they aren’t, then I feel I have not done my job.  However, when I succeed in firing this passion in them, then the great philosophical questions about how we might determine the good, about justice and truth, being and knowledge, become real questions that they own for themselves, not academic exercises that they must undertake for a grade. I want them to recognize that one of their primary responsibilities in life is to think their own thoughts, and I want them to appreciate both how hard this is, and that it is their further responsibility to contribute their well-worked out, well-researched thoughts to the rest of humanity.


  • Book Chapters
    • David I. Gandolfo, “A Different Kind of University Within the University: Ellacuría's Model in the Context of the United States,” in The Grammar of Justice: The Legacy of Ignacio Ellacuría Today, Matthew Ashley, Kevin Burke and Rodolfo Cardenal, eds. (Orbis 2014). This volume is also appearing in German and Spanish editions.
    •  David I. Gandolfo, “Confiança, coragem, compromisso e liderança: e possível um tipo de universidade diferente nos Estados Unidos?” in A civilização da pobreza: O legado de Ignácio Ellacuría para o mundo de hoje, Francisco de Aquino Junior, Martin Maier, Rodolfo Cardenal, eds. (São Paulo: Paulinas, 2014).
    • David I. Gandolfo and Sarah Worth, “Global Standpoint Aesthetics: Towards a Paradigm,” The Continuum Companion to Aesthetics, Anna Christina Ribeiro, ed. (Continuum, 2012).
    • David I. Gandolfo, “What Really Matters,” in Testimonies of Vocation, William Rogers, ed., (Furman, 2011).
    • David I. Gandolfo, “Latin American Liberation Philosophy,” in The Blackwell Companion to Latin American Philosophy, Susana Nuccetelli, Ofelia Schutte, and Otávio Bueno, eds., (Blackwell, 2009).

    Journal Articles

    • David I. Gandolfo, “The Past, Present and Future of Globalization: Colonialism, Terrorism, and the Need for Democratic Supranational Governance,” Review Journal of Political Philosophy, vol. 7, no. 1 (2009), pp. 45-75.
    • David I. Gandolfo, “A Role for the Privileged? Solidarity and the University in the Work of Ignacio Ellacuría and Paulo Freire,” Journal for Peace and Justice Studies, vol. 17, no. 1 (2008), pp. 9-33.
    • David I. Gandolfo, “The Ethical Threshold: Democratic Supranational Governance As A Necessary Condition for Non-Neocolonial Globalization,” Philosophy in the Contemporary World, vol. 15, no. 1 (2008), pp. 22-31.
    • David I. Gandolfo, “Ignacio Ellacuría: Liberation Struggles and the Question of Non-Violence,” Journal for the Study of Peace and Conflict (2004-2005), pp. 1-17.Encyclopedia Entries
    • David I. Gandolfo, “Ignacio Ellacuría,” published in the peer reviewed Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, (http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/ellacuria.htm) 2004.