Phillips Hall #214
Ohio Wesleyan University
Delaware, OH 43015
Dr. Mark Allison
Associate Professor of English
Office: Sturges Hall 216
Dr. Allison grew up in Evansville, Indiana and the suburbs of Syracuse, New York. He knew that he wanted to attend a small liberal arts school with a strong English department; that led him to Kenyon College, where his love of literature competed with new interests in philosophy, political theory, and utopian thought. Eventually, he recognized that he could pursue these other passions through the study of literature. Philosophy, history, politics, visions of better societies—all find their way into novels, poems, and other forms of literary expression.
After completing the honors program at Kenyon and graduating with degrees in English and Philosophy, Dr. Allison spent several years working in the Literature department at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in Washington DC. He went on to complete his MA in Humanities at the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. in English at the University of California, Berkeley. He joined the OWU faculty in 2007. Dr. Allison is delighted to find himself, once again, at a small liberal arts school in Ohio with a strong English department—and many other strong departments besides.
Dr. Allison’s research centers on the relationships between literature, politics, and what we would now call social justice movements, especially in the 19th century. His book, Imagining Socialism: Aesthetics, Anti-politics, and Literature in Britain, 1817-1918, argues that British socialism is distinguished from other national traditions by its interest in using the resources of the arts and imagination to overcome the deadlocks of traditional political practice. In his spare time, he enjoys being made fun of by his two daughters, watching Indiana Pacers basketball, and planning overstuffed itineraries for his next trip to Great Britain.
Dr. Allison’s focus within the Honors program is on student activities and recruitment. He collaborates with the Admissions Office to enroll new Honors students, advises the Student Honors Board, and oversees residential life for Honors students. Additionally, he works closely with Dr. Downing to administer the program as whole.
“Participating in an honors program as an undergraduate changed my life,” he says. “The OWU Honors Program provides a rich community for students who are passionate about learning and eager to fulfill their personal and intellectual potential. The quality and originality of the work of our Honors students is a source of pride and inspiration.”
Dr. Amy Downing
Alumni Professor of Zoology
Office: Schimmel/Conrades Science Center 325
Growing up on the north shore of Lake Superior, Dr. Amy Downing has always been fascinated by the beauty and complexity of water and nature. These passions led her to pursue her bachelor’s degree in biology at Lawrence University and her PhD from the University of Chicago with a focus on the ecology and conservation of freshwater and marine ecosystems.
Dr. Downing’s research explores the role of biodiversity for the functioning and stability of ecosystems, using freshwater ponds as a model ecosystem. Her work has received support from the National Science Foundation and has resulted in over 20 scientific papers, including some in top tier scientific journals such as Science andNature.
Dr. Downing enjoys teaching courses such as Marine Biology and Conservation Biology and has traveled with her students to places such as the ponds of Michigan, the coasts of North Carolina and the Duke Marine Laboratory, the glaciers of Alaska, the mountains and rainforests of Ecuador, the land and waters of the Galapagos Islands, and the coral reefs of the Caribbean. In 2007 she won the Sherwood Dodge Shankland Award for the Encouragement of Teachers. In 2021, she was awarded the Bishop Herbert Welch Meritorious Teaching Award. When she is not teaching or doing research, Dr. Amy Downing enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters who also share her passion for nature and the outdoors.
Dr. Downing is principally responsible for building and managing the Honors curriculum, consisting primarily of freshmen Honors Tutorials and Honors Courses. She communicates with students and faculty about current offerings in the curriculum and encourages students to engage with the Honors curriculum. She helps students understand and complete the requirements to graduate with Department Honors or University Honors.
“The Honors Program is an opportunity for students to challenge themselves by taking rigorous courses with a community of students and faculty who are curious and excited to explore new ideas. When students engage fully with the curriculum they will be rewarded with close and intense interactions with faculty and with a breadth of knowledge that ranges far outside their primary focus of study. The Honors curriculum allows students to develop critical minds and a deep understanding of how multi-disciplinary approaches are needed to solve the complex challenges of the world.”