Tamara Tweel

Tamara Mann Tweel was a committed Freedom and Citizenship student before she became a teacher. She first encountered F&C as a graduate student, sitting in the back of Professor Montas’ seminar and studying the noble obligations of being a free citizen. Since that first summer, there is little Professor Tweel loves more than spending July with her F&C students reading and discussing the Great Books.

Before entering Columbia, Professor Tweel received a Masters in Theological Studies at the Harvard Divinity School and worked for years building interfaith coalitions in New York City after September 11th. She returned to Columbia to study for her Ph.D. in American History where she wrote a dissertation on the political and ethical challenges of aging in America. In addition to being a professor, she works outside the classroom to bring the ideas of F&C into the policy and non-profit space, assisting think tanks, foundations, and major philanthropists on their social welfare work. In 2009, Professor Tweel received the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award from the Association of American Colleges and Universities. In 2015, Professor Tweel testified before Congress on the value of the humanities, bringing the stories of F&C students to our national representatives. Her writing has appeared in such publications as The Washington PostThe Huffington PostThe Journal of World History and The Harvard Divinity Bulletin. Her current academic research includes the ethical repercussions of how Americans have defined life, death, and care.

Dr. Tweel's College Courses

  • Give it Away: The History and Ethics of Philanthropy

    • ​​​​​​​This seminar explores the early divide between charity and philanthropy and discusses the moral challenges of both keeping money and giving it away. We look at the great accomplishments of American philanthropy as well as the longstanding critique that charity fails to address structural inequality. This course is designed to help students analyze and evaluate how philanthropic organizations have addressed major public problems.

  • Who Cares? Old Age and the American Welfare State
    • ​​​​​​​I​​​​​​​n the twentieth century, Americans got old. From 1900 to 2000, the average American lifespan jumped from 47 to 77 years of age. By looking at the history of old age in America, this course ponders a set of fundamental questions regarding eldercare: How should old age be defined? Where should the elderly live? Where should they die? What is the government’s responsibility to the elderly? What are the ethics of intergenerational obligation? Students will take on these questions by studying traditional academic texts, such as historical monographs, policy papers, and novels, and volunteering in a local old age home. In tandem, this approach will give students the tools to evaluate the intended and unintended consequences of social policy and expose them to the genuine moral complexity of eldercare.