Ryan E. McCoy

About me

My work

I'm a philosopher and Assistant Professor in Environmental Studies at Washington and Lee University. I work at the intersection of philosophy of science and environmental ethics and enjoy thinking about social and ethical questions that arise in climate change research and policy. 

My current research focuses on the need within climate science for improvements in regional and local climate information, knowledge gaps in regional modeling efforts, as well as how these gaps pose a problem for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and climate justice. This has led to an interest in how transdisciplinary approaches to climate research that include the knowledge and expertise of local communities can help to address many of these challenges. 

This research has included several interdisciplinary projects, ranging from work as a Research Assistant for an NSF funded project on knowledge formation in agriculture science, to conducting an assessment of climate services as an ORISE Fellow for the USDA Midwest Climate Hub. I have also conducted interviews for the Kentucky Climate Oral History Project, worked as part of an interdisciplinary team to develop and distribute a climate change needs assessment for Extension personnel in Kentucky, and also served as Research Assistant and an Executive Committee Member for the Kentucky Climate Consortium

My approach

I enjoy doing philosophy that engages with and is relevant to scientific practice and social issues. I fully subscribe to the idea that sustainability issues are 'Wicked Problems', and that addressing these challenges requires a diverse range of talents and perspectives. As a researcher, this involves reading literature across a variety of disciplines, as well as collaboration with other philosophers and researchers outside of my discipline. Not only do I think this makes for better research, but it's also just plain fun to learn from and alongside others.

These interests in collaboration and social issues carry over into my teaching, both in terms of content and approach. I believe students learn best when they're engaging with and learning from one another, whether through in-class groups, collaborative projects, or online discussion boards. Moreover, I believe that course content should reflect a diverse range of perspectives and address issues relevant to students' lives and communities. 

My life

I was born and raised in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, before moving to Nashville to study philosophy and audio engineering as an undergraduate at Belmont University. After completing my master's degree at Georgia State University in Atlanta, I made my way back up I-75 to Lexington, Kentucky, where I completed my PhD at the University of Kentucky.

I enjoy just about anything outdoors, whether it's hiking or gardening, and will usually be accompanied by one or both of our family's two dogs, Max and Monk. One of my favorite places in the world is Hisle Farm, a 280-acre farm turned public park just north of downtown Lexington. Fun fact: it's also the location of all the photos on this page.