Paul Theodore Pojman, a professor of philosophy at Towson University and a community activist, died Sept. 20 of lung cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The Hampden resident was 45.
"Paul's area was the philosophy of science, and he focused on environmental philosophy," said Ann F. Ashbaugh, chairman of the department of philosophy and religious studies at Towson University.
"And at his death, he was working in a new area of philosophy based on ecology and economics. It is a new field. He was pulling it all together and talking with other people in the community," she said. "He had such enormous energy, enthusiasm and intelligence."
The son of a philosopher and a hospice nurse, Paul Theodore Pojman was born in New York City, and spent his early years in Copenhagen and Oxford, England. When he was 16, he moved with his family to Richardson, Texas, where he graduated from high school in 1982.
"Paul learned to read by 5. He developed a lifelong love of reading and a questioning mind at an early age, and was considered by some to be a child prodigy," said his mother, Gertrude "Trudy" Pojman of Highland Falls, N.Y.
"At 10, he was ranked eighth in the world in chess and played with such people as Nigel Short while in England," she said.
After high school, he traveled and farmed, spending several years at an ashram in India. He attended Reed College in Oregon and earned a bachelor's degree in 1993 in philosophy from the University of Mississippi, where he also earned a master's degree in 1995, also in philosophy.
Dr. Pojman earned a second master's degree in history and the philosophy of science from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in the discipline, also from Indiana, in 2000.
Dr. Pojman began his academic career as an assistant professor of philosophy in 2000 at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, and the next year was named a visiting professor of philosophy at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
Dr. Pojman's areas of specialization included the philosophy of science, science and technology studies, environmental ethics and anarchist theory.
He joined the faculty of Towson University in 2002 as an assistant professor of philosophy until being named an associate professor in 2008.
"He was a very sincere person, and the students loved him," said Dr. Ashbaugh.
"Paul had taught environmental ethics for many years, which is the practice of philosophy related to the way we live and how we could move through life in a different way," she said. "He wanted to remedy problems and find solutions."
Dr. Pojman served on the committee that brought Dr. Ashbaugh to Towson.
"He was very influential in bringing me here and was such a wonderful colleague," she said. "His death is a tremendous loss because of what he brought to us."
"The loss of Paul Pojman hurts all the more because he so consistently focused on patiently building for the future; his thought was always oriented toward the steps we need to take to build capacity in the long haul to remake our lives and our society, towards building infrastructure, creating ethically consistent institutions, towards planting seeds that might take decades to germinate," wrote John Duda, a co-founder of Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, on the bookstore website.
"He deserved to see many, many more of these seeds grown and bloom; and it is our task to see to this long and patient work in his memory," he wrote.
Jerry Raitzyk, a Baltimore community activist, had worked with Dr. Pojman on several projects, including Baltimore Free Currency, Baltimore Free School, Occupy Baltimore and the Baltimore Free Farm in Hampden.
"Paul was not your typical occupier. He was a teacher at Towson and helped prepare the food that was sent to the occupiers at McKeldin Square from the Baltimore Free Farm," said Mr. Raitzyk.
"He arranged for his students to do field work at the Free School, Free Farm and Free Currency project," he said. "And through this, he was able to open up a channel of communication from academia to the folks downtown who were doing the hands-on work with these things."
"Paul was one of those people in the community who had a lot of faith in what people were doing. He brought his energy and enthusiasm to the sustainability community," said Mr. Duda. "He was able to bring people together."
Dr. Pojman lived in a house at the Baltimore Free Farm, located on Ash Street in Hampden.
He enjoyed backpacking, kayaking and hiking the Appalachian Trail. He also liked gardening and cooking for family and friends.
A memorial gathering will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at the Towson Unitarian Universalist Church, 1710 Dulaney Valley Road.
In addition to his mother, Dr. Pojman is survived by his son, Theodore "Theo" Pojman of Ocoee, Fla.; and a sister, Ruth Freedom Pojman of Vienna, Austria. A marriage to Michele Beth Lima ended in divorce; at the time of his death, he was separated from his second wife, Evelyn Wright.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun