Ada Jaarsma


BA University of Waterloo
MA Trent University
PhD Purdue University

Office: EA3189
Phone: 403.440.8545

I’m Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Humanities, where I teach courses in continental philosophy, existentialism, feminist philosophy, philosophy of science, and philosophy of sex and love.

I am fascinated by the relevance of existentialism for thinking about science and science studies. In my recent essay, “Choose your own birth” (Aeon, 2020), I turn to Beauvoir and Sartre as resources for engaging with evolutionary theory.  As a book-length example of this research, in Kierkegaard after the Genome: Science, Existence and Belief in This World (Palgrave Macmillan 2017), I bring Kierkegaard’s philosophy into conversation with epigenetics, placebos, pedagogy, and science studies.  Syndicate hosted a symposium on my book (which you can find here).

I research placebos and Placebo Studies in collaboration with Dr. Suze Berkhout (University of Toronto). You can find our edited special issue on placebos here, as well as our article on placebos and disability studies here, and our article on nocebos and critical race theory here. I received a SSHRC Insight Grant for this project (2020-2023).

I am also keenly invested in scholarly teaching and the philosophical significance of teaching practices.  My new book collection, Dissonant Methods: Undoing Discipline in the Humanities Classroom (University of Alberta Press, 2020), co-edited with Dr. Kit Dobson (Mount Royal University), explores the creative practices at the heart of undergraduate teaching.  For the past few years, I have turned to sound studies and podcasting as ways to explore the wonderfully creative dynamics of teaching: you can find more about this work at

You can find all of my publications, as well as the lessons and syllabi that I create for my courses, here.  One of my side projects is making philosopher-portraits: here’s an interview about the project.