Public Philosophy Call for Proposals

The Public Philosophy Network invites proposals by September 15 for its fourth conference on Advancing Public Philosophy, Boulder, Colorado, February 8 to 10, 2018. Originally scheduled to take place in Denton, Texas, the organizers changed the venue due to the  recent passage of a discriminatory Texas law that prompted California to issue a ban against state-funded travel to Texas.

The conference theme is understanding impact: What practices improve the uptake of philosophy, both across the disciplines, and throughout society? This question will be pursued through workshops and papers, topical investigations (e.g., climate change) and case studies, and engagement with philosophers, STEM researchers, administrators, policy professionals, and journalists. Conference website: https://philosophyimpact.org/ppn2018/.

We invite proposals on a wide range of topics related to understanding and advancing public philosophy, including the following:

  • Questions of how to define, evaluate, and measure the impact of public philosophy;
  • Philosophical work on substantive policy issues (e.g., environment, LGBTQ, health, housing, economics, and many more);
  • Accounts of philosophical work with other disciplines (e.g., STEM), as well as engagement with various non-academic publics – and of the impacts of such work;
  • Best practices in public philosophy;
  • Reflection on pathways to greater impact: How can philosophers increase the impact of their work? And the skills needed to engage in public philosophy;
  • Questions surrounding the responsibilities and loyalties of the public philosopher;
  • Responses to the accountability or audit culture and neoliberal trends in the academy;
  • The institutional dimensions of public philosophy (for example, tenure, funding, pedagogy, the structure of academic units and programs, etc.);
  • Reflections on how philosophy itself is transformed by turning outward: How does public engagement inform philosophical concepts and understanding of audience, credibility, expertise, standards of rigor or excellence; and
  • Accounts of the relation between public and normal (‘disciplinary’) philosophy.

Toward the goal of making our meeting more participatory and interdisciplinary in nature, plenaries and sessions will include (in addition to PPN’s traditional approaches):

  • Presentations by scientists, engineers, and policy-makers on how philosophers can better help with the philosophical aspects of their work;
  • A discussion with university administrators on the changing place of philosophy within the university, and the increase of support for public philosophy; and
  • A plenary on the challenges of doing philosophy in the public sphere.

Submissions: send an abstract with “PPN Submission” in the subject line by September 15, 2017 to philosophy@unt.edu. Abstracts should be limited to 300 words. Please also specify in your abstract whether you are submitting a proposal for a workshop or an individual paper.

Details on these two formats are as follows:

Workshops (2 hour sessions). Proposals should include a workshop title and descriptions of the organizer(s)’ interests and experience with the subject matter and how the topic is of concern to philosophy or public life. Proposals should also include an overview of how the workshop will proceed, highlighting how it will be participatory and experiential, and indicating any non-academic participants you might invite. We anticipate that workshops will take different formats, depending on the issues being addressed and the number and type of participants.

The goals of these sessions can include 1) to foster partnerships and projects, whether new or ongoing, and, where appropriate, to spark substantive dialogue between philosophers and “practitioners” (public policy makers, government officials, grassroots activists, nonprofit leaders, etc.) or 2) to focus on how to do certain kinds of work in public philosophy. A second call will be issued later in the year inviting people to apply to participate in the workshops. Workshop organizers should help publicize this second call. Each workshop will be limited to ~20 participants.  Workshop participants chosen after the second call will be listed on the program as discussants, though they will not be expected to make any formal presentation.

Papers (to be grouped into 90 minute sessions). We are especially interested in papers that report on public philosophy projects or reflect on the practice of public philosophy. Proposals should include the title and a brief description of the paper. Presenters should plan for brief presentations followed by longer conversations.

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Conference Website: More details are on the website at https://philosophyimpact.org/ppn2018/.

Public Philosophy, on tap not on top

Over at Daily Nous a conversation is ongoing about public philosophy — who is doing it and what the public might want from it. This seems a good time to link to a document that Sharon Meagher wrote for the Kettering Foundation a few years ago, especially to make the point that the public-philosopher relationship should be something much better than a masses-expert relationship. Community organizers have a nice model, summed up in the slogan that experts should be on tap, not on top. So what drives the relationship would be whatever it is that is of concern to the public in its effort to ameliorate problems. (Okay, that’s my inner Dewey channelling.)

Here’s an excerpt from Meagher’s executive summary:

Philosophy has followed most other academic disciplines in seeking to make both its public voice and public value clearer and more explicit. Arguably philosophy has greater resources to draw on, given the deep civic roots of the discipline. In recent years, the American Philosophical Association formed a committee on public philosophy, following most other U.S. professional disciplinary associations in forming a committee intended to support and develop the public dimensions of the respective discipline. More recently, a group of philosophers founded the Public Philosophy Network (PPN), an association dedicated to the promotion of publicly engaged philosophical research, social action projects, and teaching….

As part of our role in fostering discussion and reflection on public philosophy, we focus on the following three questions:

  • How has the discipline of philosophy experienced a disconnection from public life and narrowing of its public role? How does public philosophy fit into the larger emergence of public forms of scholarship across disciplines?
  • What are the core characteristics of public philosophy? How does public philosophy differ from applied philosophy, scholar-activism, and other more familiar approaches?
  • What does publicly engaged philosophy have to contribute to addressing the public dimensions of complex public issues?

[Meagher proposes] five theses intended to provoke further reflection and discussion….

Thesis 1: Public philosophy should be transformative

Thesis 2: Public Philosophers should not be understood as “experts”

Thesis 3: Public Philosophy demands collaborative and interdisciplinary work

Thesis 4: Public Philosophers must be committed to assessing their work and being accountable to their public partners

Thesis 5: Public philosophy demands that we work to make philosophy more inclusive and representative of various publics

The full report is here.

I think the hardest part of this for many philosophers, along with other academics, to get are theses one and two, namely that engaging the public may call on us to change how we do our work and that the relationship should be mutual, not hierarchical.

However slowly, this is beginning to change, especially as more philosophers enter unfamiliar territory, from teaching in prisons to working with NGOs on issues of climate, poverty, race, and gender.

2013 Advancing Public Philosophy CFP

Calling all philosophers who do publicly engaged work.  The Public Philosophy Network’s second conference on Advancing Public Philosophy is scheduled for March 14-16, 2013, right here at Emory University.  Here’s the call for proposals:

The Public Philosophy Network invites proposals for its second conference on Advancing Publicly Philosophy. The conference will include a mix of workshops, panels, papers and informal sessions on various issues in public philosophy, including discussions of larger philosophical questions about how to engage in philosophical activity outside the academy and on concrete projects and political problems as well.

We invite proposals that cover topics related to understanding and advancing public philosophy, including the following:

  • philosophical work that engages various publics through research or social action projects;
  • philosophical work on substantive policy issues (for example, climate change, gay marriage, housing policy, fiscal policy, welfare, public health, among many others) with attention to public effects of this work;
  • skills needed to engage in public work (such as how to do collaborative work or use social media);
  • practical matters and best practices in public philosophy (for example, tenure hurdles for publicly engaged work, outreach programs in prisons, sources, methods and strategies for attaining funding, etc.); and / or
  • reflections on how the philosophy is transformed by turning outward; how does public engagement inform philosophical concepts and understanding or alter disciplinary boundaries?

Proposals should specify the format: workshop, paper, or organized panel.

Workshops. Proposals should include a workshop title and descriptions of the organizer(s)’ interest and experience with the subject matter and how the topic is of concern to philosophy or public life. Proposals should also include an overview of how the three-hour workshop will proceed, highlighting how it will be participatory and indicating any non-academic participants you might invite. We anticipate that workshops will take different formats, depending on the issues being addressed and the number and type of participants. The goals of these sessions are to foster partnerships and projects, whether new or ongoing, and, where appropriate, to spark substantive dialogue between philosophers and “practitioners” (public policy makers, government officials, grassroots activists, nonprofit leaders, etc.). A second call will be issued later in the year inviting people to apply to participate in the workshop. (Workshop organizers should help publicize this second call.) We will limit each workshop to about 20 participants.  Those who are accepted in time will be listed on the program as discussants, though they will not be expected to make any formal presentation.

Papers. We are especially interested in papers that report on public philosophy projects or reflect on the practice of public philosophy.  Proposal should include the title and a brief description of the paper. Proposals for individual papers should be prepared for 30 minutes of presentation and discussion time. Accepted proposals will be grouped into sessions. Papers may be presented in any style, from reading whole or sections of papers to more conversation based to powerpoint slides and multimedia.

Organized Panels.  We invite proposals for panels on any number of themes: Book sessions, philosophical issues in public philosophy, or policy problems and how philosophers have or 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 the topic to be addressed.

All meeting space will have Wi-Fi; a screen and projector will be available for those who need it. Please submit proposals on topics like those described above (350-500 words) by August 1, 2012 via http://publicphilosophynetwork.ning.com/page/submission-form

A notification on accepted workshops, papers, and panels will be sent by September 1, 2012.

Please notify us if you require accommodation for disability.

Conference Steering Committee
Noelle McAfee, Emory University (chair)
Adam Briggle, University of North Texas
Robert Kirkman, Georgia Institute of Technology
Andrew Light, George Mason University & Center for American Progress
Sarah Clark Miller, University of Memphis & Pennsylvania State University
Kyle Powys Whyte, Michigan State University

Notes from Advancing Publicly Engaged Philosophy Conference

I am only now catching my breath — in between teaching and before I head off to my next conference — to stop and reflect on the Public Philosophy Network’s first conference.  Never mind the bias that I was a co-chair.  I just helped throw the party.  But the party glittered because of everyone who really helped create it.   It was fabulous, with participants ranging from graduate students doing amazing public philosophy work via youtube (e.g Cori Wong) and in poetry slams in NYC (Travis Holloway) to renowned philosophers working on climate change and poverty (Thomas Pogge and Henry Shue) as well as journalists E.J. Dionne and Hannah Rosen, political theorists Bill Galston and Mark Sagoff, Penn State’s Anita Allen, and more than a hundred other amazing people.

Here are some of my notes, which I also posted here.

We had roughly 150 people registered and, in the midst of the conference, reached a milestone of having 500 members in the network.

The most exciting thing about the conference was its participatory nature, with one full day of collaborative workshops followed by another day of interactive panel sessions.  On the workshop day, I attended Vance Rick’s and Mark Fisher’s workshop on social media and ethics.  It was lively, especially with lots of great provocations from participants about the need for both walls and bridges in cyberspace and how to maintain both at the same time.  In the afternoon I attended Chris Long and Cori Wong’s session on philosophy and the digital public.  This session was a little more formal, with both organizers giving short presentations.  Both were followed with great conversation.  And in the end we tried to create a social media product and learned a lot about the fruits of collaboration.

Altogether there were 15 workshops the first day, and I heard great reports all over.  The next morning I facilitated a plenary on the outcomes of that workshop and pushed my own pet concern to interrogate the meaning of “public philosophy.” We heard from people who took part in lots of workshops, including philosophy in the city; collaborative research; academics stand against poverty; and feminist bioethics.

The rest of that second full day was taken up with panels, which, at their best were highly participatory. I really enjoyed the session on “eating in public” put on by an interdisciplinary team at Michigan State University.  Actually, this was a presentation of a paper written by four authors.  Each took five minutes to explain his or her own aspect, then for the Q&A they turned the table and asked the audience questions.  At the end of the day I  attended a session organized by Elizabeth Minnich that asked wonderful big questions about what we have all learned from doing this kind of work.  The panelists started but then the question went all the way around the room.

In short, this conference modeled a new way of thinking about philosophy.  It was not at all an exercise in “applied philosophy.”  It was an exploration of engaged philosophy where we could all think about what is public in our work and what being public means for doing philosophy.

For others’ notes, go here here here and here

Public Philosophy Conference

Advancing Public Philosophy, a conference of the Public Philosophy Network, takes place October 6-8, 2011 in Washington, DC.  Keynote speakers and panelists include William Galston, E. J. Dionne, Elizabeth Minnich, Peter Levine, Thomas Pogge, Mark Sagoff, Marilyn Friedman, and Henry Shue. Andrew Light and I are co-chairing the conference.

The conference starts with a plenary at the Center for American Progress and continues with two full-day sessions at the Washington Plaza Hotel.  The first full day we’re holding concurrent workshops in the morning and afternoon with a maximum of 20 people in each workshop, on topics from climate change to social media ethics.   If you’d like to see the offerings and sign up to participate, check out this wiki.

The final day will include a mix of paper sessions and plenaries, including one on global poverty and the Millenium Development Goals.  The full program is available here.

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:  http://publicphilosophynetwork.ning.com/page/conference-submissions.  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 http://publicphilosophynetwork.org

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 publicpn@gmail.com

 

Practicing Public Philosophy: Reflection and Dialogue

For those heading to San Francisco for the Pacific meeting of the American Philosophical Association, especially if you don’t want to cross the hotel union’s pickte line, join me off-site for a day-long discussion on public philosophy co-sponsored by the APA committee on Public Philosophy and the Center for Global Ethics (George Mason University). Here are the details:

Friday, April 2, 2009, 9-4 p.m.

Villa Florence Larkspur Hotel, 221 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA

Despite the public perception that continues to share Aristophanes’ view that philosophers remain “in the clouds,” incapable of doing publicly relevant work, at least some philosophers have remained committed to a Socratic model of philosophy that is engaged with public life.   These sessions invite philosophers who do publicly engaged work (assuming multiple publics and multiple types of engagement) to come together to both share their work and to reflect philosophically on the concept of “public philosophy.”

Please note that both sessions will focus on dialogue and discussion, and audience members are invited and expected to participate.   Speakers featured below are “catalyst speakers,” whose aim is to draw all of us into discussion.  Interested participants who require a letter of invitation in order to secure travel funding from their institution should pre-register using the form below.

Space is limited—pre-registration is strongly encouraged, and is required to participate in meals and break-out sessions. Those who wish to participate in the full-day discussion, including lunch, are asked to register no later than March 15, 2010 by completing this registration form.

To pre-register and for additional information:   http://www.philosophyandthecity.org/publicphilconference

Thanks to our sponsors, the sessions and meals are free.   To insure that we can accommodate those who will actually attend, registrants must agree to attend or cancel prior to March 17th; failure to do so will result in their being billed $55 of the cost of the meals ordered on their behalf. Only those who have pre-registered are guaranteed seating and meals.

Location: Villa Florence Larkspur Hotel, 221 Powell Street, San Francisco, in the Machiavelli Room.  The meeting is located ½ block off Union Square. A limited number of discounted hotel rooms are available for participants are available at the reduced conference room rate of $125 per night:  www.villaflorencehotel.com and enter 001315KTO in the corp/promo box.

Schedule, April 2, 2010

All activities will take place in the Machiavelli Room, Villa Florence Hotel, San Francisco

9 a.m.             continental breakfast (free for pre-registered participants)

9 a.m.-noon              Practicing Public Philosophy:  Reflection and Dialogue, Part I (Machiavelli Room, Villa Florence Hotel)

Moderator: Sharon M. Meagher, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Dept. of Latin American Studies and Women’s Studies, University of Scranton

Catalyst Speakers:

John Lachs, Centennial Professor of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University

Sharon M. Meagher, Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Dept. of Latin American Studies and Women’s Studies, University of Scranton

Eduardo Mendieta, Professor of Philosophy, Stony Brook University

Elizabeth Minnich, Senior Scholar, Association of American Colleges & Universities

Noelle McAfee, Associate Research Professor of Philosophy and Conflict Analysis, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University,

Noon-1.              Lunch and small group break-out sessions, topics to be determined by conference participants (Lunch is free for all-pre-registered participants).

1-4 p.m.             Practicing Public Philosophy:  Reflection and Dialogue Part II

Moderator and Discussant: Ellen Feder, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Philosophy and Acting Chair, Dept. of Philosophy and Religion, American University

Catalyst Speakers:

Linda Martín Alcoff, Professor of Philosophy, Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center

Andrew Light, Director of the Center for Global Ethics at George Mason University and a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress,

William Sullivan, Senior Scholar, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Nancy Tuana, DuPont/Class of 1949 Professor of Philosophy and Director, Rock Ethics Institute,  Penn State University