Dr. Roger Gardner

Dr. Roger Gardner

Professor of Exercise Science; Fitness and Sports Management, and Philosophy
(270) 852-3223
Woodward Health & Recreation Center #3


Educational Biography

After graduating from high school in Maryland, I received a football scholarship to Temple University – quarterback and punter. I left Temple before the end of the first semester . . . . . I was not prepared for college (I was not sure what I wanted to be in life); and football at Temple seemed to be taken far too seriously – in the end, to me, it’s just a game. After two years on a factory assembly line, I attended a local community college and received an AA in Marketing and Sales. Then, a job in retail – assistant manager. Next, back to the assembly line at a different factory. The next step was to attend the University of Delaware to major in Physical Education; with plans to teach and coach. After a semester, I realized how much I truly loved learning, being challenged intellectually, and developing intellectual self-reliance – thinking for myself. Two courses in particular, were responsible for this awakening – Introduction to Philosophy, a discussion-oriented course where we explored life’s most significant questions, and Introduction to Ethics, a discussion course where we studied moral theories and their application to contemporary ethical issues. So, I decided to complete my undergraduate degree in sport studies and then get a master’s degree at Delaware in sports’ science and the application of ethics/philosophy to sports. A short time later I decided to pursue a Ph.D. in sports ethics. There were no such programs in existence, but Purdue University was willing to work with me to create such a program. I was all set to spend a fifth year at Purdue and finish my dissertation (“Ethics and the Use of Performance Enhancing Substances in Sports,)” when I saw an ad for a teaching position at Kentucky Wesleyan College. I accepted the position. 

I chose Kentucky Wesleyan because it is a small liberal arts college that is focused on students and teaching; and the small class sizes allow for a more significant learning experience. KWC has allowed me to develop and teach a variety of courses, from the ethics of sports to the philosophy of sports to biomechanics. And, due to my educational background, I am also certified to teach courses in the philosophy program, e.g., ethics courses and critical thinking. I have stayed at KWC for over thirty years for some of the same reasons I originally decided to accept the position – academic freedom and the small college environment – but also because of the sheer joy of teaching and interacting with our students, and the quality and intellectual inquisitiveness of our students. I often get emails from former students who thank me for helping them to think critically or morally, or because I taught students that when disagreeing with others that we should separate ideas from persons (hate ideas not people) and find common ground.

Philosophy of Education and Teaching

In education, “the grade” has become the dominant value; and the inherent value of knowledge and critical thinking has been significantly compromised. In the classroom, I make efforts to de-emphasize grades and intrinsically motivate students to value knowledge and reflective thought. The classes I teach are democratized through (1) providing students with choices regarding content and methodologies, (2) collaborating in group projects and leading discussion, and (3) helping students see how content and critical thinking are applicable to their lives. Moreover, our students are asked to take responsibility and accountability for the course, their learning, and their evaluations; the learning environment is cooperative and not adversarial. Because I place the education of our students far above grades, I encourage rewriting papers and retaking tests (and test questions)– achieving the highest quality of work, fully understanding significant concepts, and learning to think critically are far more important than playing the “college game.” Teaching is not about showing students what I know, it is about helping students to discover knowledge through questioning and developing intellectual self-reliance.

Every course I teach focuses on teaching students to think critically. I was the Director of KWC’s first Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP); “Critical Thinking for a Lifetime.” Its focus was teaching students and faculty to think critically. All courses I teach focus on fostering within our students intellectual traits such as intellectual humility, intellectual autonomy, and intellectual fair-mindedness, etc. While we also attempt to recognize our own egocentric thinking – egocentric memory, egocentric hypocrisy, egocentric blindness, etc. – and nurture the non-egocentric brain. We cannot truly think for ourselves or critically if we cannot acknowledge and address the power of our egocentric (and sociocentric) thinking.


Ph.D.: Ethics – Purdue University
M.S.: Sports Philosophy – University of Delaware
B.S.: Sports Studies – University of Delaware


Program Directory: Fitness and Sports Management
Program Director: Philosophy

Courses Taught                                                           

Ethics of Sports
Philosophy of Sports
Sociology & Psychology of Sports
Biomechanics of Sports
Health Ethics and Society
Health Topics
Fitness and Wellness

Philosophy Courses                                       
Introduction to Ethics
Introduction to Philosophy
Critical Thinking
Topics:  Ethics and War

Online Courses                                                

Introduction to Ethics
Introduction to Philosophy
Fitness and Wellness

Research Interests

Critical Thinking

 Most Influential Book

“Stamped from the Beginning” by Ibram X. Kendi

Most Significant Quote

“If we cannot reconcile all opinions, let us endeavor to unite all hearts.”     Robert Owen

Most Valuable Educational Concept

Ideas can be worthy of contempt, but no person is – hate ideas not people.