On April 2, 2010, a one-day conference on public philosophy was held in conjunction with the Pacific APA (American Philosphical Association Meeting). The result of the meeting was the launch of the Public Philosophy Network (Network's new site.).
The Public Philosophy Network offers opportunities for philosophers, social scientists, and community-based practitioners to network with one another for the purposes of collaborative, publicly engaged research.
The PPN sponsored its first full conference, "Advancing Publicly Engaged Philosophy" in Washington, DC, October 6-8, 2011. Our second conference was held March 14-16, 2013 at Emory University in Atlanta. Conferences are now held annually. Go the PPN website for additional information.
It's an excellent resource, particularly for those of us who need to make a case for their publically engaged work. And most importantly, it provides ideas and resources for making institutional changes so that scholars will no longer have to "go it alone" in trying to make their cases.
But where are the philosophers? No philosophers participated in the committee that wrote the report; philosophers need to get involved in this important work.
The American Philosophical Association has a committee on public philosophy, and I am a member (Elizabeth Minnich is currently the chair). Please contact me if you have any ideas or suggestions for the committee.
Beyond the Academy Conference: A brief conference report
On June 10-11, a group of public scholars met just outside the nation’s capital on George Mason University's Arlington Campus to discuss the ways in which their work is more than “academic,” how it helps strengthen democratic institutions and public life and can bring about civic change. While a wide range of academic disciplines were represented at the conference, one thing that made this confererence notable for me were the relatively high numbers of philosophers and political theorists who attended the conference. This is because the conference organizers, Noelle McAfee and Claire Snyder, are philosophers and political theorists, respectively. For many junior philosophers, this conference was the first time that they did not feel alone; it was a place where their work was honored and they learned how to make a case for its importance.
The lunch keynote address by Dan Kemmis (author of The Good City, which was the book that first inspired and convinced me to develop my own work on philosophy and the city) was a real highlight of the conference, as were the closing comments by David Mathews, President of the Kettering Foundation. The Kettering Foundation has long supported the connection between the humanities and civic engagement, and has always understood philosophy to play a role in that work.
Conference participants hope to develop a network by which they can continue to be inspired by one another. There are a number of possibilities. Alexander Moll, of the Public Forum Institute, invited conference attendees to participate in their democracy delegate volunteer project.
Philosopher Ellen Feder (American University, and author of the excellent book Disciplining the Family Oxford U P, 2007) and I are co-authoring the philosophy "catalyst" paper for The Democracy Imperative (TDI) website. TDI's site will host catalyst papers written by scholars in a wide range of academic disciplines to challenge us all to do more engaged work that encourages and supports democracy.
Peter Levine, a philosopher by training, maintains a blog on civic education, American politics, the internet as a new public commons, and other related ideas. Currently the director of CIRCLE (Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagment) which just recently moved to Tufts University, Levine has worked as an Associate at the Kettering Foundation as well as at The University of Maryland's Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy.
For the full list of resources on public philosophy that I have compiled, please click here. Please log-on at the bottom of that page if you have suggestions or corrections to the list.
copyright 2007-2021 Sharon M. Meagher, Ph.D. Every effort is made to keep all links and resources up-to-date. Please send corrections or suggestionsto me. Thank you.