Public Philosophy Network comes to Emory

Hey there friends, I’m organizing this conference and there’s still time to get on the program:

Advancing Publicly Engaged Philosophy, March 14-16, 2013, Emory University Conference Center, Atlanta, Georgia, Keynote Speaker: Elizabeth Minnich

Early Registration extended to February 8, 2013. Those who register early pay a lower fee and will be listed on the program as discussants for any workshop they get in. Workshops are filling up quickly. TO REGISTER GO HERE:  

The Public Philosophy Network (PPN) brings together theorists and practitioners engaged in public life. Rather than merely try to apply theoretical insights to practical problems, PPN seeks to create spaces for mutual reflections on the meanings of public problems and the practice of philosophy itself.  PPN engages theorists and practitioners online and offline, online through its interactive web space and offline through its national conferences that occur every 18 months.

A key feature of the conferences is the participatory workshops on a range of issues related to publicly engaged philosophy.  Additionally there are plenaries, paper sessions, and organized sessions, though all aim to be participatory models of public engagement.  Workshop topics for the upcoming conference are listed below; for full descriptions and the full conference program, go to:

The 2013 conference is sponsored by Emory University and co-sponsored by the American Philosophical Association, George Mason University, Penn State University’s Rock Ethics Institute and Michigan State University.

After registering for the conference, you will be prompted to sign up for workshops, listed below.



•           Taking Philosophy into the Field of Science and Technology Policy: Toward a Paradigm for Publically Engaged Philosophy, facilitators:  Adam Briggle, J. Britt Holbrook, Robert Frodeman, and Kelli Barr, U. North Texas.

•           Philosophy Behind Prison Walls, Pedagogy, Praxis, and Infrastructure, facilitators:  Brady Heiner, California State University, Fullerton; John D. Macready, University of Dallas; Marianne Patinelli-Dubay , SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

•           Creating Public-Public Partnerships: Utilizing Universities for Participatory Budgeting, facilitators:  Michael Menser and Kwabena Edusei, Brooklyn College

•           Streets, Surfaces, and Sounds, facilitator:  Gray Kochhar-Lindgren, Univeristy of Washington Bothell

•           Race, the City, and the Challenge of Praxis, facilitators:  Ron Sundstrom, University of San Francisco; Frank McMillan, Organizer, VOICE (Virginians Organized for Interfaith CommunityEngagement)

•           Performing Philosophy:  Participatory Theater as a Means of Engaging Communities Philosophically, facilitators:  Sharon M. Meagher and Hank Willenbrink, University of Scranton

•           Using Non-Cooperative, Experiential Games to Teach Sustainability Ethics, facilitator:  Jathan Sadowski, Arizona State University

•           Scientific Advisory Committees, Controversial Issues and the Role of Philosophy, facilitators:  Paul Thompson, Michigan State University; Bryan Norton, Georgia Tech University; Mr. Gene Gregory, former President and CEO of the United Egg Producers; Kyle Powys Whyte, Michigan State University


•           Philosophy of/as Interdisciplinarity Network (PIN) or Philosophy and Interdisciplinarity: Reflecting on and Crossing Boundaries, facilitators:  Adam Briggle, J. Britt Holbrook, Robert Frodeman, University of North Texas; Jan Schmidt, Darmstadt University; Michael Hoffmann, Georgia Tech

•           Challenging the Culture of Sexual Violence: Moral Literacy and Sexual Empowerment as Tools of Transformation, faciliators:  Sarah Clark Miller and Cori Wong, Penn State University; Ann Cahill, Elon College.

•           Engaged Philosophy and Just University-Community Partnerships, facilitators:  Dr. Ericka Tucker, Cal Poly Pomona University and Emory University; Dr. Vialla Hartfield-Méndez and Letitia Campbell, Emory UniversitY; Hussien Mohamed, Director of Sagal Radio, OUCP.

•           Hip-Hop as Public Philosophy, faciliatators:  Roberto Domingo, Stony Brook University; Jo Dalton, French rap-producer, activist, and former gang leader ; Amer Ahmed, Chair of the National Hip-Hop Congress;  Michael Benitez  Jr., Director of Intercultural Engagement and  Leadership, Grinnell College

•          Sagacity and Commerce, facilitator:  David E. McClean, Rutgers University, Molloy College

•           Practical Epistemology and Sustainable Inquiry, facilitators:  Karen Hanson and Naomi Scheman, University of Minnesota

•           Public Philosophy Journal: Performing Philosophy as Publication, facilitators:  Christopher Long and Mark Fisher, Penn State University.

•           Equity and Climate Change: Opportunities for Research, Teaching, and Advocacy, faciliators:  Andrew Light, George Mason University and Center for American Progress; and Paul Baer, Georgia Tech

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

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

Scholars Going Public

I’ve mentioned before here that I’m putting on a conference next month, Beyond the Academy: Engaging Public Life. At lunch today with my good friend Rich Harwood, I started to see even more deeply the import of public scholarship. The term has become a bit of a buzz word in the disciplines, coming to mean disciplinary work that is aimed at developing a different kind of relationship with the public. So it’s more than just history or philosophy or “weed science” (as Scott Peters affectionately calls agricultural sciencs), but academic work that tries to engage the public more collaboratively, not top down. This is hard for many academics and well-meaning types to imagine. Certainly, the thinking goes, the great unwashed masses need the wisdom of thoughtful, trained people. But this thinking is, I believe, deeply wrong-headed — and undemocratic, to boot. The task for public scholars is to draw out, elicit, be midwives for public knowledge. They should know what Dewey knew: that the cobbler may know how to fix the shoe, but only the wearer knows where it pinches. This was the impetus for the conference, to describe a kind of scholarship with a more collaborative relationship with the public.

But my conversation with Rich pointed to an additional and perhaps more important meaning of public scholarship. It’s not about what the scholar can do with or for the public, but about making one’s own scholarly work meaningful. By meaningful it is not so much what the work means for others but that the work is meaningful for others. I would venture to say that all of us — academics, artists, politicians, entrepreneurs, bus drivers, cooks, and lineman — want our endeavors to resonate in a public world with others. If the world is deaf to our efforts, we (and perhaps the world) are so much the worse for it.

We’re worse off because the dichotomy between individual and society is a false one. We all become who we are through our interactions with others. There is no distinguishable self apart from the way we individuate ourselves in a social field. The claim, “I am somebody,” is not just an assertoric statement; it is a performative one, one that succeeds when others respond, “yes you are somebody.” To be fully individuated seems to involve being heeded, felt, acknowledged by others. I think we all want our work to matter. So being a public scholar means being an academic who wants to make a difference in the world, not just for the world’s sake, but for one’s own. Otherwise we write journal articles for the sake of CV’s and the perhaps eight people who read them. We play the finite game of getting ahead, not the infinite game (as James Carse might put it) of making a difference. Publicity is the flip side of alienation.

New Date for Beyond the Academy Conference

New Date Beyond the Academy Conference: June 10-11, 2008

Call For Abstracts

The Beyond the Academy Conference is now scheduled for June 10-11, 2008.  It will take place on the Arlington Campus of George Mason University, beginning the evening of the 10th and continuing all day on th 11th.

Meeting just outside the nation’s capital in the midst of a presidential campaign year, public scholars from across the country will 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.

To be considered for the program, send a 450-550 word abstract by April 28 to with the subject line “public scholars.” Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

* Reclaiming the civic mission of the university
* The incentive structure of university scholarship
* The self-understanding of scholars and their relationship to the public
* How to be the public’s allies in democratic work
* What kind of research does a democratic public need?
* Organic vs. traditional scholarship: How does Milton matter?
* Assessing the engaged campus movement
* Independent scholars, the academy, and the public
* the multiple ways communities, individuals and non-academic institutions contribute to public knowledge (e.g., film festivals, literary festivals, literacy initiatives)
* Advocacy versus Engagement
* Book sessions

For more information go to

Please spread the word to all your networks!

Public Scholarship Conference

George Mason University and the University of Maryland are co-hosting a conference on public scholarship June 10-11, 2008, at Mason’s Arlington campus. The event is also sponsored by The Democracy Imperative and the Kettering Foundation. A call for papers is forthcoming. In the meantime send inquiries to the event’s organizer, Noelle McAfee, at