Call for Proposals — “Advancing Publicly Engaged Philosophy”

Call for Proposals – Conference:  “Advancing Publicly Engaged Philosophy”

October, 6-8 2011, Washington Plaza Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Hosted by the Public Philosophy Network

The Public Philosophy Network invites proposals for a Fall 2011 meeting on Advancing Publicly Engaged Philosophy.  The conference will include a mix of formal and informal sessions on various issues in practical philosophy, including concrete projects and political problems as well as discussions of larger philosophical questions about how to engage in philosophical activity outside the academy.

Please submit formal proposals (350-500 words) or informal suggestions for any one of the following formats by April 30, 2011.

Workshops.  These sessions will be held the first full day of the conference and will include a mix of presentations and discussion on either substantive policy issues (for example, climate change, gay marriage, housing policy, welfare, etc.) or practical matters and best practices in public philosophy (for example, tenure hurdles for publicly engaged work, collaborative work, outreach programs in prisons, sources and methods for funding, etc.). Proposals should explain the nature of the interest area of the participant and how it is of concern to philosophy or public life.  Identification of community-based practitioners who might be interested and able to participate in particular workshops is welcomed.

Table Sessions. These more informal, round table sessions will occur over lunch during the conference and are intended for discussion of issues that are less developed.  To propose a table session that you would help organize or lead, send a succinct statement of the problem and some ways in which philosophers could engage it.  Again, suggestions for community-based practitioners who might be interested and able to participate in particular workshops are welcomed.  The organizers will select a range of these sessions and assign tables for the conference; participants will also have the option of organizing table discussions during the conference.

Paper Presentation.  Proposals are welcome for presentations on any area of philosophy relevant to public policy, advocacy, or activism, presentations which document past and ongoing projects in publicly engaged philosophy, or take up more theoretical questions on how to do publicly engaged work.

Organized Panels.  Panels may be proposed on any number of themes:  Book sessions, philosophical issues in public philosophy, or policy problems and how philosophers may engage them.  These sessions could include a traditional set of three papers followed by discussion or more informal brief panelist remarks followed by interactive discussion among panelists and the audience.  Proposals should include names and affiliations of proposed panelists, the proposed format, and an abstract of what will be addressed.


In addition to taking up pressing political problems, conference-wide sessions will address larger questions in public philosophy:  In what ways is philosophy, when engaged with various publics, transformative, i.e., how can or does philosophy improve public life?  In what ways is philosophy transformed when engaged with various publics, i.e., how can public engagement inform philosophical concepts and understanding or alter disciplinary boundaries?  And, if public philosophy is valuable—then how might we promote and sustain its practice?

To submit a proposal, go to:  The deadline is April 30, 2011.

Also welcomed are informal suggestions for possible workshops and table sessions. Participants may submit proposals for participation in workshops as well as either paper or panel sessions.

Volunteers to chair sessions or serve as discussants are also welcome.


Please notify us if you require accommodation for disability.


Public Philosophy Network Executive Committee

Andrew Light, George Mason University, Program Co-Chair

Noelle McAfee, Emory University, Program Co-Chair

Sharon Meagher, University of Scranton

Paul Thompson, Michigan State University

Nancy Tuana, Pennsylvania State University


For information about the Public Philosophy Network, go to

The conference is co-sponsored by the American Philosophical Association, George Mason University’s Center for Philosophy and Public Policy, Michigan State University’s Kellogg Chair of Agricultural Ethics, and Pennsylvania State’s Rock Ethics Institute.

Questions?  Please e-mail us at


By Noelle McAfee

I am professor of philosophy at Emory University and editor of the Kettering Review. My latest book, Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis, explores what is behind the upsurge of virulent nationalism and intransigent politics across the world today. My other writings include Democracy and the Political Unconscious; Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship; Julia Kristeva; and numerous articles and book chapters. Edited volumes include Standing with the Public: the Humanities and Democratic Practice and a special issue of the philosophy journal Hypatia on feminist engagements in democratic theory. I am also the author of the entry on feminist political philosophy in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and well into my next book project on democratic public life.

1 comment

  1. As one of the organizers of this conference I’d like to stress that we envision the workshops as the core of the conference. We are very interested in proposals and ideas for workshops on how philosophy can and might engage with the problems of the world.

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