Public Philosophy Network

Encouraging and Supporting Publicly Engaged Philosophical Research and Practices

2013 PPN Conference Workshops

Participatory workshops are a central feature of PPN conferences.  Below you will find a description of the workshops held at the 2013 conference.  A listing of workshops for the 2105 conference will be available in mid-December.   

The deadline has passed for persons to be listed formally in the program as discussants, but all workshops participants will have equal chances to engage in informal discussion.  

Although workshops will vary in format, the aim is to create collaborative, participatory spaces to discuss issues of common concern.  Workshop participants/discussants will not be expected to make formal presentations unless specifically invited to do so by their workshop facilitiators. 

You may download the full conference program as a PDF file (including workshop details--you will find them scheduled on Friday and Saturday morning), or you can scroll down to view just the workshops below. 



1. Taking Philosophy into the Field of Science and Technology Policy: Toward a Paradigm for Publically Engaged Philosophy

Adam Briggle, U. North Texas

J. Britt Holbrook, U. North Texas

Robert Frodeman, U. North Texas

Kelli Barr, U. North Texas

The goal of this workshop is to sketch and discuss “field philosophy” as a novel and viable transdisciplinary paradigm for philosophical research and graduate education. This workshop will feature three elements: (1) The presenters will discuss their case studies in field philosophy, especially with peer review practices at science funding agencies and the politics of shale gas development in Denton, TX. (2) The presenters will outline four paradigmatic questions and ask the workshop participants to add to the list: (i) What is field philosophy? (How is it different from other forms of philosophy?) (ii) What do field philosophers do? (What skills do they bring to various “fields” and what roles can and should they play?) (iii) How is their work evaluated? (What research metrics can be devised and how can they be implemented in hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions?) (iv) How are field philosophers trained? (What pedagogical and curricular approaches might work for a new generation of field philosophers?) (3) The presenters will lead a structured discussion that seeks to answer (or clarify/assess, etc.) these questions. They will also ask participants to share their own experiences in or hopes for conducting field work.


2. Philosophy Behind Prison Walls, Pedagogy, Praxis, and Infrastructure

Brady Heiner, California State University, Fullerton

John D. Macready, University of Dallas

Marianne Patinelli-Dubay, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Mecke Nagel, SUNY Cortland

A growing contingent of philosophers across the U.S. is practicing philosophy behind prison walls: conducting reading groups or courses with imprisoned students or jointly with both imprisoned and college/university students. Yet there is currently no democratized space where reflection on this praxis can take place, where those who philosophically engage (or wish to philosophically engage) with imprisoned communities can mutually learn from and support one another. This workshop aims to cultivate a formal network through which mentors and peers engaged in philosophical work with imprisoned communities can communicate and meet to exchange ideas, experiences, strategize about pedagogy, outreach, institutional coordination, and infrastructure, as well as generate and disseminate individual and collaborative research related to this work.


3. Creating Public-Public Partnerships: Utilizing Universities for Participatory Budgeting  

Michael Menser, Brooklyn College

Kwabena Edusei, Brooklyn College

Across the US and the world, budget crises have called into question dominant models of decision-making in which elected officials supposedly represent the interests of their constituents and work with bureaucratic experts to maximize the public good.  Fortunately, throughout the world over 2000 cities have experimented with another budgetary model that has decreased corruption, promoted inclusion and fairness, and more creatively contribute to addressing public needs. This process is called "participatory budgeting."   Last year, we assisted four NYC Council Members in creating a PB process in which they turned over 5 million dollars to the residents of their districts and empowered them to submit proposals AND choose which ones to fund within a norm bound participatory process.  In this session we will draw upon our experience in setting up the NYC process and discuss the role that universities did and could play in promoting this program which not only enables people to have real decisive power in the political process but also creates potentially long term community-university partnerships.


4. Streets, Surfaces, and Sounds

Gray Kochhar-Lindgren, Univeristy of Washington Bothell

In this workshop, participants will work together to articulate—verbally and materially—relationships between philosophy, art, and the city organized around the experience of how we thinkingly feel the city and how we can best creatively (co)present what we discover. The first stage will focus on introductory activities; thinking about philosophy’s genres; and making a quick run through Henri Lefebvre’s “Seen from the Window” as one form of doing philosophy. The second stage will lead us outside, in small groups, to create a series of observations about streets, surfaces, sounds, and feel. In the third stage, we will regather to create micro-projects, gesture toward other texts, and think about how art and philosophy co-inhabit one another in the experience of the city.


5. Race, the City, and the Challenge of Praxis

Ron Sundstrom, University of San Francisco

Frank McMillan, Organizer, VOICE (Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community


This workshop will be on approaches to applied or engaged philosophy on racial or ethnic disparity or segregation as they apply to life in or the structure of American cities. These divisions and problems are usually thought of in terms of distributive injustice or their negative effects on the exercise of democracy or democratic life in America. The point of our discussion will be (1) to consider how race and the city is a subject of public philosophy, (2) to deepen understanding of the harms of ethnic and racial injustice in American cities, and (3) to explore alternatives analyses and responses that are experimental, engaged, and informed by social science and the lives and perspectives of those affected by these disparities and divisions. Participants will share information about their projects, discuss methods, approaches, and the challenges of praxis, and hear and learn from practitioners who have experience working in this area.


6.   Public Health Ethics:  how academic ethicists and philosophers can collaborate with health officials to address public health challenges.  

Leonard Ortmann, Public Health Ethicist, Public Health Ethics Unit, Office of Science Integrity, Office of the Associate Director for Science, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Drue Barrett, PhD, Lead, Public Health Ethics Unit, Office of Science Integrity, Office of the Associate Director for Science, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Our central concern is how academic ethicists and philosophers can optimally collaborate with practitioners in the field of public health. The workshop will first provide an overview of public health ethics and contrast its community perspective with the largely individual perspective of clinical ethics and bioethics. It will then examine CDC’s Public Health Ethics Unit’s efforts to support local health officials in making practical decisions in real time to address ethical challenges in the practice of public health. These challenges include allocating scarce resources while achieving fairness and efficiency, respecting individual rights while safeguarding the public’s health, protecting underserved and marginalized communities while engaging and sharing information in a transparent manner, and ensuring data confidentiality and individual privacy while conducting surveillance. In addressing these challenges, officials regularly have to balance competing ethical and professional obligations as well as the values and interests of diverse stakeholders. The workshop will combine lecture, group discussion, small group work, and use public health ethics cases developed in consultation with public health directors and that practitioners are likely to confront. The workshop will examine lessons learned in CDC’s efforts to develop cases that practitioners find useful. These include understanding how scientific-minded health professionals approach decisions, emphasizing practical decision making in ethical analysis, creatively prioritizing and combining values, recognizing the importance of context, and establishing collaborations between professional and academic partners.


 7. Using Non-Cooperative, Experiential Games to Teach Sustainability Ethics

Jathan Sadowski, Arizona State University

Sustainability ethics is constituted by wicked problems that are much different than “paradigm moral problems.” To tackle these issues, students, in particular those in science and engineering disciplines, must learn a different set of ethical skills than is ordinarily required by professional ethics. Learning these skills presents several pedagogical challenges to traditional programs of ethics education that emphasize abstraction and reflection at the expense of experimentation and experience. This workshop will walk participants through a novel pedagogy of sustainability ethics that is based on four non-cooperative, game-theoretic ethics games, which cause students to confront two salient questions: “What are my obligations to others?” and “What am I willing to risk in my own well-being to meet those obligations?” Participants will have the opportunity to experience two of the four games (one that simulates the problem of externalities and one that simulates the Tragedy of the Commons). In comparison to professional ethics education, the game-based pedagogy moves the learning experience from: passive to active, apathetic to emotionally invested, narratively closed to experimentally open, and from predictable to surprising.


8. Scientific Advisory Committees, Controversial Issues and the Role of Philosophy

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

Scientists from diverse fields are often called upon to provide advice to government and industry on the response that should be taken when issues of public controversy arise. There are almost always issues of fact on which these issuesvturn, and scientists have expertise that is crucial to taking action. However, the science on which their expertise is based may be incomplete, and important areas of uncertainty may remain. What is more, the controversy surrounding these issues may arise from conflicting value commitments or perspectives that scientists are not particularly well equipped to addressed. Can the inclusion of philosophers on these committees be helpful? How should philosophers who find themselves asked to participate think about their role?



1. Philosophy of/as Interdisciplinarity Network (PIN)  or Philosophy and Interdisciplinarity: Reflecting on and Crossing Boundaries

Adam Briggle, University of North Texas
J. Britt Holbrook, University of North Texas
Robert Frodeman, University of North Texas
Jan Schmidt, Darmstadt University
Michael Hoffmann, Georgia Tech

Interdisciplinarity has become a popular label ascribed to innumerable research programs. But there are many conceptual and practical problems with interdisciplinary research. This workshop will describe the efforts of the Philosophy of /as Interdisciplinarity Network (PIN) to articulate and resolve those problems and will open a space for discussing future efforts and collaborations between PIN and PPN. PIN fills a niche within the broad field of interdisciplinarity studies by combining two directions of activities. The first direction takes philosophical inquiry into problems regarding the practices and theories of interdisciplinary research in the style of traditional philosophy of science. The second direction initiates a new philosophical practice of engagement in the world — one that questions and overcomes the boundaries that have constituted philosophy as a discipline in the 20th century.


2. Challenging the Culture of Sexual Violence: Moral Literacy and Sexual Empowerment as Tools of Transformation

Sarah Clark Miller , Penn State University

Cori Wong ,Penn State University

Ann Cahill, Elon College

Sexual violence is a pernicious, undertheorized cultural phenomenon. This workshop seeks to produce a better understanding of the mechanisms that sustain sexual violence and to examine how moral literacy and sexual empowerment might generate more effective responses to this problem. Workshop participants will consider questions such as: How might a better understanding of the epistemology of ignorance surrounding sexual violence help us to end the relative silence about this social issue? What might a more comprehensive theory of harm tell us about the nature of sexual empowerment as a means of overcoming sexual violence? How can we increase the role of autonomy and empowerment in polices and procedures regarding incidents of sexual violence? The methodology of the workshop will intertwine both practical and theoretical considerations, seeking to have them inform one another. We will focus primarily on sexual assault on college campuses, while also being open to discussing other instances of sexual violence.


3. Engaged University and Just University-Community Partnerships

Dr. Ericka Tucker, Cal Poly Pomona University and Emory University.

Dr. Vialla Hartfield-Méndez, Emory University.

Letitia Campbell, Emory University.

Hussien Mohamed, Director of Sagal Radio, OUCP.

We will present the mission of the OUCP and outline the four tiers of engaged-learning and research. We will then set out the example of the partnership with Sagal Radio and the philosophy course, Global Justice, which emerged from this partnership and through the OUCP support of a graduate fellowship. We will then move onto the workshop, where each participant will give a brief description of their class, and the engaged-learning component they envision or would like to develop. Depending on enrollment, we will break up into smaller groups to evaluate and suggest ideas for each participant’s course. For the workshop to be as useful as possible, we ask that participants do some work in advance. 1) Participants should bring the syllabus for the class they are thinking of making into an engaged-learning course. 2) Participants should do some investigating in advance to identify community organizations with whom they could partner. They do not need to contact this organization, but this would be valuable. 3) Participants should find answers to the following questions: Does their university have a service-learning/engaged-learning/community-partnership office? With whom does this office partner in the community? What is the process for making an organization a community-partner, if they are not already one? Participants are encouraged to browse the OUCP website. We will end with a short discussion of institutional support and external support for engaged learning projects, and a final Q&A. After the workshop, we will follow-up with participants through a web portal where they can upload, edit and comment on their own syllabus and the syllabi of other participants.

4. Hip-Hop as Public Philosophy

Amer Ahmed, National Hip-Hop Congress and Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs at University of Michigan.

Michael Benitez Jr, Iowa State University.

Jo Dalton, activist, rap producer, youth educator, street philosopher, and former gang leader of the legendary Black Dragons.

Roberto Domingo Toledo, Stony Brook University.

This workshop offers a space for dialogue for researchers interested in hip-hop and racial marginalization. The workshop welcomes both actors from racially marginalized communities who grew-up with hip-hop, researchers from the outside who attempt to establish authentic and constructive collaborations with hip-hop actors, and researchers occupying various intermediary positions. Ahmed will discuss his involvement with the Hip-Hop Congress and his other activist activities, focusing on the question of hip-hop as a tool to combat Islamophobia. His research points to a consistent overlap between Islam and Hip Hop throughout the history of Hip Hop culture. Benitez’s work connects Hip-Hop activism with critical pedagogy. He will discuss the role of hip-hop philosophy and praxis as liberatory and transformative pedagogy in the context of U.S. and Latina/o culture. Toledo will discuss his field research and collaborations with Jo Dalton and other actors in French and Brazilian hip-hop in his critiques of contemporary scientific racism in French psychosocial institutions. After an audiovisual teaser from Jo Dalton: Légende Urbaine, Dalton will discuss his anti-racist work and his recently published autobiographical and sociopolitical book Le Maître et le Dragon: soon to be translated into English. Participants will be then invited to discuss their hip-hop related activities. Members of the French and local Atlanta hip-hop community will be vital participants in this dialogue. Hip-hop is frequently a meeting space for autodidact researchers from urban communities and researchers within universities.


5. Sagacity and Commerce

David E. McClean, Rutgets University, Molloy College

In recent years, the world has seen scandal after scandal in the commercial sector (but not only in the commercial sector; recall the US Navy’s Tailhook Scandal and the more recent scandal involving the Secret Service and prostitutes in Colombia). These scandals take various forms. With reference to various philosophical traditions, including virtue ethics and American Pragmatism, the workshop will explore how scandal (and, more important, the failures that give rise to them and the underlying damage often associated with them) can be avoided or mitigated. The principle working assumption – at least coming into the workshop – will be that “risk management” and the application of “normal” management logics are not enough, and that what institutions need to avoid scandal and market failures are organizational leaders who employ sagacity in assessing organizational initiatives, organizational risks, organizational change, organizational health, and organizational growth.


6. Practical Epistemology and Sustainable Inquiry

Karen Hanson, University of Minnesota

Naomi Scheman, University of Minnesota

“Practical epistemology” is modeled on practical (vs “applied”) ethics, with theory as much informed by practice as practice is by theory. Practical epistemology moves epistemology from abstracted anecdote to contextualized problems facing those whose social locations give them particular responsibilities for the creation and critique of knowledge or particular vulnerabilities to the knowledge claims of others. We want to make a case specifically for norms of sustainability, meaning acquiring knowledge in ways that make it more likely that others, especially less privileged others, will be able to acquire knowledge in the future. Central questions include how to integrate disciplinary expertise, which typically functions by decontextualizing both knowers and their objects of knowledge, into holistic, engaged, and sustainable ways of knowing, with communities of inquirers working across disciplinary and institutional lines, to create maximally democratic, critical conversations complex enough to match the complexity of real-world problems.


7. Public Philosophy Journal: Performing Philosophy as Publication

Christopher Long, Penn State University.

Mark Fisher, Penn State University.

This workshop will focus on the development of an open access, open peer review, Journal of Public Philosophy. The Journal will be designed to facilitate the performance of philosophy in the networked public as its mode of publication. The four basic dimensions of the journal will be discussed during this workshop: 1) the curation of public philosophical content from the wider web for inclusion in the journal; 2) Open peer review, reviewing the reviewers and collaborative writing; 3) Open publication; 4) Ongoing, open public dialogue and sustainable collaborative research.  The workshop will be interactive with opportunities to learn more about recent developments in open access publication and to discuss the affordances and limitations of the proposed journal.



8. Equity and Climate Change: Opportunities for Research, Teaching, and Advocacy

Andrew Light, George Mason University and Center for American Progress

Paul Baer, Georgia Tech and EcoEquity

For some time now academic philosophers have focused much of their work on climate change on questions of distributive justice.         Principally, this work has focused on the optimal division of global obligations to reduce global emissions.  As of this past year a new track in the official UN climate negotiations has emerged that may provide a new forum for discussion of this work.  This workshop will focus on two items.  First, discussion of the various ways philosophers can contribute to climate science, policy, and activism with a focus on questions of equity.  Second, discussion of how the emerging equity debate can be used as a    teaching tool while it persists.


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