A four-week institute for thirty high school teachers on topics central to philosophical inquiry.
Project director Mitchell Green (University of Virginia) observes that formal instruction in philosophy at the high school level is rare in American schools (unlike in Europe), but students and their teachers still happen upon philosophical questions in a range of topics and texts such as "human rights as appealed to by the American Founders, or freedom of will as contemplated by Hamlet." This institute responds to the interest many teachers have in remedying their lack of formal training in the field of philosophy. In daily meetings, the institute takes on a series of topics including logic and critical thinking; metaphysics (free will and personal identity); epistemology; philosophy of mind (self-knowledge, consciousness, and mind-body distinctions); aesthetics, including the possibility of gaining knowledge from fiction and the relation of emotion to art; ethics (traditional and contemporary approaches); political philosophy (theories of rights, political obligation, and justice); and bioethics. Readings include Professor Green's Engaging Philosophy: A Brief Introduction, David Lewis' "Are We Free to Break Laws?", Tim Crane's "The Mind-Body Problem," Rene Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy, and Iris Murdoch's "The Novelist as Metaphysician." Virginia's Corcoran Department of Philosophy, which "prides itself" on collegiality, stimulating debate, and attention to teaching, enlists professors John Arras, Rebecca Stangl, and Trenton Merricks. They are joined by lead faculty member Jennifer Gurley (Le Moyne College) and visiting scholars Alisa Carse (Georgetown University) and Mara Harrell (Carnegie Mellon University). After choosing the participants, the director builds a profile of their interests, around which the syllabus for the program is finalized. Following the institute, participants are able to continue exchanging information on a wiki that is part of an established program, High-Phi, to support philosophy in the schools.
Faculty: John Arras, Alisa Carse, Jennifer Gurley, Mara Harrell, Trenton Merricks, and Rebecca Stangl