5 Minute Version

What I write about

I believe good things can come from radical transparency. You know being vulnerable and sharing your insecurities, darkness, and shame. This is where I do that. I explore my humanity, trek into my inner-life, and scrutinize my decisions to live this life as a teacher, father, mentor and a man. I also write to give halftime speeches, articulate my personal pedagogy called Rewilding, and explore the Do’s and Don’ts of being a Do-Gooder. Every once in a while I’ll get a bit fiery. See here, here and here. Otherwise, my writing is pretty contemplative. I also write with my son in mind. Some day he may be inclined to learn more about me. If so, he will be able to find it here.

Some more things about me

I need to have my hands in the soil at least once a week.

I don’t meditate by sitting in silence and listening to my breath. I dig holes.

I know how to sweat.

The best compliment that I have ever received was when a student told me that I was “10 pounds of cool in a 5 pound bag.”

I believe that the combination of solitude, manual labor, and doing hard things the hard way is a gateway to self-enlightenment.

I’m suspicious of power tools and labor-saving devices.

Successfully dodging water from a sprinkler still puts a smile on my face.

One of my life goals is to earn the descriptor of “wise elder”.

My current anthem is “Glory” by Maverick Sabre.

I garden (native perennials are my specialty), build obstacle courses, and throw projectiles (knives, axes, and spears). I’m still trying figure out the why of the last one.

I like things simple and understated. I like to get to the point. Hence this website’s austere look and feel.

I repeatedly whisper two mantras to myself throughout the day of every day:

  • “Trust your life”
  • “Quietly create something beautiful”

There are times (possibly too many) that I believe that my wounds are the only wounds. I need good people around me to keep me in check.

A dog jumping into the back of a truck is one of my favorite sights to behold.

I collect fitness tests, pump up songs and generous adjectives.

One question that’s always on my mind is “How can I wring as much humanity out of this 5 foot 8 inch frame?”

You can hear my voice by listening to these interviews:

Here’s my biography

Born and raised in North Bend, OH, I earned my BA in Economics from Earlham College (Richmond, IN), my MA in Economics at Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA), and after having read Douglass C. North’s Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance headed to Washington University in St. Louis where I earned my PhD in Economics.

My first position was in the Economics Department at California State University San Marcos. My wife Kyra and I lived in San Diego (specifically, Hillcrest). When we got pregnant with our son Dillon, we headed to Virginia to be with family. We live in Richmond. Most of my free time is spent in the garden (my specialty is native perennials) and building obstacle courses.

I am currently an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Mary Washington, Groundskeeper at IMAGINE Social Good and founder of the Two Dollar Challenge, and author of the Sidekick Manifesto. I am also currently on the Board of Directors of Students Helping Honduras and a judge and board member of the Social Impact Media Awards.

I am the past founder of La Ceiba Microfinance, the Month of Microfinance, and the Poverty Action Conference.  I am also a former Clinton Global Initiative University mentor, an Opportunity Collaboration alum, a 2014 Feast on Good Speaker and the da Vinci Center’s first Change-Maker in Residence at Virginia Commonwealth University (2018).

Here’s my 3rd Person Biography

Shawn (aka the Blue Collar Professor) is the founder of IMAGINE U, the Two Dollar Challenge, and author of the Sidekick Manifesto. His blog explores issues facing social innovators and entrepreneurs. He challenges the conventional wisdom of social entrepreneurialism with his Do’s and Don’ts for Do-Gooders and motivates do-gooders with his Half-time Speeches. At the core of Shawn’s philosophy is his Rewilding Pedagogy – a unique pedagogy that’s hell bent on transforming his students into change-making animals.

So, that’s me. Maybe not in 5 minutes. Maybe, more like 7 minutes.

Questions or comments? Send me an email: shumphre@umw.edu.