Mike Heller teaches courses in spiritual autobiography, contemplative non-fiction, composition theory, and American literature. He is interested in how we use language to promote nonviolence. This interest has led him to study writers such as John Woolman, the early American anti-slavery writer; Henry David Thoreau; Mahatma Gandhi; Indian writers such as Arundhati Roy, and recent Nobel Peace Prize winners. He is interested in how people have used language to promote nonviolence.
His teaching is shaped by a belief in the power of students' inward resources. "I ask students to value their own experience," he says, "as a valid source from which to speak and write, whether that experience is in books or in our daily lives. It's a good way to ask what matters here and to help us find where we are."
"A lot of people think that teaching writing is about teaching correctness," he says. "The important thing is learning to respond intelligently to the world. This means learning to respond both from the intellect and from the heart."
He edited The Tendering Presence: Essays on John Woolman (Pendle Hill Publications); he co-edited, with Sterling Olmsted, John Woolman: A Nonviolence and Social Change Source Book (the Wilmington College Peace Resource Center); and most recently he wrote "From West Point to Quakerism" (Pendle Hill Publications). He has published articles on nonviolence, the personal journal, autobiography, and the place of spirituality in education.
He earned a Ph.D. in English at Arizona State University, an M.A. in American Literature at George Washington University, and a B.S. in General Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.