"I've always been an incorrigible generalist with a strong interest in how the various fields of knowledge relate to one another and to the big questions of human existence. My present research interests converge on how we as a culture envision the development of social cooperation, from its beginnings in human evlution to the utopian experiments of the present and our pop-culture fantasies of the future."
Years at Knox: 1973 to present
Ph.D., Anthropology, 1975, Indiana University.
M.A., Anthropology, 1972, Indiana University.
B.A., Anthropology, 1967, Wichita State University.
Hominid social evolution and human nature, utopian societies, Native America, myth and folklore.
Grant-funded travel and study in Malaysia, Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia as part of an interdisciplinary Knox team teaching and writing about Islam.
"Coming Home: The Evolutionary Roots of Utopia." Journal of Utopian Studies, 20 (2010.)
Politics and Change in the Middle East. Co-authors Knox faculty Roy Andersen and Robert Seibert. Prentice-Hall; ninth edition, 2008.
Deep Space and Sacred Time: Star Trek in the American Mythos. Co-authored with J. Lundeen. Praeger Publishers, 1998.
"Beyond Stones and Bones: Emerging Paradigmatic Complexity in the Study of Hominid Sociality." Organizer and chair, Central States Anthropological Society meetings, Madison, Wisconsin, 2010.
"Issues and Applications in Biological Anthropology." Panel chair, Central States Anthropological Society meetings, Madison, Wisconsin, 2010.
"Emotion, Hominid Hypersociality, and the Evolution of Warfare, or, Looking for the Roots of War in All the Wrong Places." Paper, Central States Anthropological Society, Madison, Wisconsin, 2010.
"Paean to Big Brick: Bishop Hill Architecture and the Commitment to Communalism." Paper, Annual Conference of the Communal Studies Association, New Harmony, Indiana, 2010.
"Economics, Narrative Cognition, and the Lower Paleolithic Revolution." Central States Anthropological Society, Urbana, Illinois, 2009.
"Where Darwin Meets Durkheim: Methodological Individualism, Social Facts, and Evolving Interpretations of Hominid Sociality." American Anthropological Association, 2008.
"Evolutionary Anthropology in the Undergraduate Curriculum: Potentials, Challenges and Strategies for the 21st Century." 84th Annual meeting of the Central States Anthropological Society, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2007.
"The Uses of Field Stations in Teaching Across the Curriculum." PEW Midstates Science and Mathematics Consortium conference, Effective Use of a Field Station for Undergraduate Education in a Changing Liberal Arts College Environment, Green Oaks Biological Field Station, 2005.
Campus & Community Involvement
Director, Knox College Green Oaks Term.
Field Director, ACM Tanzania Program in Human Evolution and Ecology.
Founding member of "Hammer and Pick" folk ensemble; performances for community events and arts venues in Western Illinois.
Member, Executive Board of the Central States Anthropological Society.
What Students Say
"Professor Wagner pushes you to do your best. He expects you to know your material well and be able to think critically about it. He wants to challenge what you think you know. Professor Wagner is very concerned with how well his students are doing. He always makes himself available and receptive to students and their comments."
-Crystle D. Clark, Sociology-Anthropology and Spanish Major
Leading up to a worldwide event -- Gun Control Theatre Action Week, May 27 through June 2 -- a play by Knox College theatre professor Neil Blackadder was selected for a new collection, "24 Gun Control Plays."
Rana Tahir, a double major in creative writing and political science, wrote dozens of poems and created 29 paintings after interviewing Kuwaiti residents about the 1990 Iraqi occupation.
Knox College awarded more than $3,000 in prizes in the 2013 Al Young Art Show. Organizing 200 art works in an array of media is a challenge, according student Katie O'Connor, who helped arrange the entries.