University philosophy outreach programs are proliferating. On campuses across the world, students and staff are taking philosophy out to the wider community, and especially to children and young people in schools. Their mission is to engage the public in philosophical discussion and to make a notoriously abstract and arcane subject accessible, meaningful and useful.
As yet, there is little published research on these programs. They give rise to two clusters of questions deserving of scholary attention. First, there are questions about the rationale for philosophy outreach. What is the purpose of taking philosophy into the community? What are the intended benefits of these programs, to the children and young people who participate in them, to the students and staff who lead them, to society at large, or to the discipline of philosophy itself? How do these aims inform the selection of philosophical topics, texts, tools and techniques? The second group of questions have to do with the success of philosophy outreach. What attempts have been made to evaluate these programs and their outcomes? Do they, in fact, yield the benefits intended by those who design and deliver them? Are there any drawbacks to participation, or benefits other than the intended ones? What challenges (financial, institutional, pedagogical, psychological) have been encountered by those engaged in philosophy outreach and how have they been overcome?
Papers are invited for a special issue of Journal of Philosophy in Schools (JPS) on university philosophy outreach programs. Papers may be theoretical or empirical and may focus on any of the questions suggested above. Prospective authors are welcome to contact the editors of the special issue – Michael Hand (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jane Gatley (email@example.com) – to discuss their ideas.
In the first instance, please submit an abstract (max 200 words), summarising your proposed paper, to firstname.lastname@example.org by 31 May 2022.
JPS is an international, peer-reviewed, open-access online journal hosted by the University of Birmingham UK and affiliated with the Federation of Asia-Pacific Philosophy in Schools Associations (FAPSA).
On Thursday the 24th of February, 2022, King’s College London will be the proud host of the Regional Tournament of Ethics Cup. Professor of Philosophy Andrea Sangiovanni, whose main areas of research are in contemporary moral, legal, and political philosophy, is organising.
The Ethics Cup is a tournament in which teams of high school students match wits with each other discussing ethical issues of public concern. It’s not a debating competition and isn’t won by proving the opposing side wrong. Rather, it’s a collaborative discussion, and the team that best displays the virtues of insightfulness, thoughtfulness and civility takes home the ultimate prize, the cup itself!
Aaron James Wendland is Vision Fellow in Public Philosophy at King’s College London and a Senior Research Fellow at Massey College in the University of Toronto. He is also the co-editor of Heidegger on Technology (Routledge) and Wittgenstein and Heidegger (Routledge).
I started my PhD in Political Philosophy at King’s a year ago – roughly the same time that with a group of friends, we decided to found The Pamphlet (@the_Pamphlet_), a new philosophy magazine. The Pamphlet (https://www.the-pamphlet.com/) is an online platform for the publication of short, publicly accessible articles on philosophy which are broadly accessible to non-philosophers. Initially conceived as an online magazine, it now aspires to be much more: to contribute to the public dissemination of philosophy through the publication of articles that are topical and fun to read, but also to highlight the interactions between philosophy and other disciples, to host interviews and artistic projects with philosophical interest, to bring philosophers and non-philosophers in contact… Its main commitment, however, remains the creation or promotion of content that raises philosophical questions and is approachable to non-philosophers.
The idea was born out of a concern that is probably shared among many philosophers: while we are quite passionate about our research, and we believe that philosophy has an important role to play in society, few people read philosophy, or even know what philosophers do. As a PhD student in migration ethics at King’s, I have to contend with this in too many occasions, when people not familiar with philosophy ask me what I am doing in my life. In family reunions, family members were asking what a PhD in philosophy means. Fairly educated friends had no idea what it would mean to do philosophical research. When I explain to them my research, I keep getting the same incredulous reaction. It’s not that people don’t understand the details of my project. Most often, they simply don’t see the point in someone doing philosophical research.
Discussing this with other philosophy graduates, I realised how many of us are devastated by the thought that no one knows about all the inspiring ideas that we are studying. Therefore, with a group of friends – and philosophy graduates – we decided to take action. We thought that many people don’t read philosophy partly because of the way philosophy is written. Many academic philosophy papers are dry – maybe we could try to present their key ideas in a simpler manner, aiming not at addressing elaborate counterarguments and engaging in an advanced debate, but at demonstrating the social relevance of the work. We also decided to focus on raising questions, instead of answering them: the goal was to motivate our readers to think philosophically themselves, in a structured and organized way. Apart from me, the founders of the Pamphlet are Anita Ishaq (our Editor-in-chief), Nick Johnston, Anke Devyver, Oliver Sargeant, Casper Mullie, and Sercan Kiyak.
As our project is new but ambitious, we would love to have contributions or foster collaborations. For now, we mainly publish short articles (ideally 1000 words, max 2000 words), that go through a double-review process with an emphasis on clarity, approachability and engagement. But since we have a broader vision for our project, we would be very happy to consider publishing or sharing other kinds of content as well (we have dreams of making podcasts, videos, a forthcoming interviewing project, and much more). We also hope to expand our team with new members or Pamphlet affiliates, and we would love to hear from you if you feel that you would like to get involved in our project.
For me, the Pamphlet was a great opportunity to think and write about questions that I often thought about, but never took the time to properly explore in an organized way. The contributions I’m most proud of is a series of articles that relate operas to contemporary social and political questions (so far I’ve written about Falstaff and enjoying life, Lucia di Lammermoor and feminism, and Dr Atomic and technocracy (forthcoming), and I plan to write on Carmen and femicide, and Macbeth and power).What I find most challenging is managing to write in an accessible and engaging way: when I first tried, I realised with horror that after years of university studies, I had lost the ability to write casually! I am now in the process of regaining this skill. But the fact that everyone who contributed to The Pamphlet faced this difficulty makes me think that training ourselves to communicate our ideas to non-academic philosophers is urgently needed, if philosophy is to remain socially relevant.
On Monday 17th of September, I went to the National Gallery after closing, to help make two new films for The Centre for Philosophy and Art. As part of the volunteer crew team, I assisted with moving equipment with Envis (the film company) and the others, and quietly tiptoeing next to Jen (the Director) with the spotlight. It was surreal and special to visit the gallery after hours and see the paintings in a different light. Sometimes, this was literally the problem: the main ceiling lights would switch off after a minute or so, sometimes ruining an otherwise perfectly good piece of footage. So we kept the motion detectors activated by walking around, or, less congruously, a blend of amateur tai chi and contemporary dance. More profoundly, in the hall now named after Dame Myra Hess, I considered myself lucky to have experienced some paintings with these new insights, and with a unique intimacy and solitude. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the film (and officially visiting the National Gallery again)! I think I’ll stick with just a few paintings next time, as a few have really stuck with me.
Regrets may be painful or bittersweet. They can be ethically loaded or merely a question of ‘what if?’. But above all they can be understood as a mix of reminiscence and grief over things that we have done or have failed to do.
Speakers include Vanessa Brassey, lecturer and co-director of the Centre for Philosophy and Art, Andy West, author of ‘The Life Inside: A Memoir of Prison, Family and Philosophy’, author and arts journalist Chloë Ashby, and Sacha Golob, Reader in Philosophy, King’s College London.
Colette Olive, PhD Candidate and Administrator for the centre for Philosophy and Art . (And occasional ‘ClapperBoarder’.)
Getting to visit the National Gallery after hours felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity. I felt like I was having a more personal encounter with the paintings. As a member of staff accompanying us put it, the paintings felt more present. The motion sensor lights would periodically go off and we needed to do a lot of dancing to keep them on! The inconsistent lighting made the paintings feel more dynamic. Watching Vanessa and Sacha bring out elements in the paintings I’ve never noticed before gave me a new perspective on the works. join us at our upcoming event ‘The Pleasures of Regret‘ learn more about these paintings too!
Mathilde Victoria Prietzel Nielsen (she/her)President of King’s College London Philosophy Society Undergraduate at King’s College London Department of Philosophy
We were summoned at the Prêt across the National Gallery to meet each other, get fuel, a run-through of the plan, and role assignments. I was to be the checker, that is, to keep track of which shots we had done and which we hadn’t (this was not done sequentially!). Other roles included clapper (the wooden board, not hands), extra set of ears, extra set of eyes, prompter/stylist, equipment gather-carrier-set-upper. Once the roles had been assigned we went to the gallery to be let into the gloriously silent halls to get our badges (so as to not get hand-cuffed for wandering the halls at night) before going through the galleries to our first shot, and I must say: Monet, Picasso, and the rest of the gang makes a whole other experience when not diffused by the usual museum buzz.
Though not required, you intuitively lower your eyes, widen your gaze, and raise eyebrows to communicate to and agree with the others that this is not the usual museum experience – it is of course far better.
That is, it is better when you are together with your crew or for the first 150 meters walking alone.
Around 160 you start wondering whether you’re lost and, if so, whom to call on. Cézanne? Raphael? As a team, our main job turned out to be how to keep the lights on whilst keeping the sound off: light sensors required us to keep walking about when filming in order to keep the light on, but it happens that wooden floors may squeak, so we caught ourselves in quite the dilemma (a suitable environment for philosophers, sure). The dilemma we solved with a fusion of modern dance and loss of shoes. The night we rounded off with a communal, laugh, stretch, and yawn.