Project Overview

Project Goal

The goal of The Philosopher-Citizen Institute is the steady improvement of the quality of citizen decision-making in America via the "renewal" of the discipline of philosophy as a home for citizen education. There are two major sub-goals of the Project:

  1. Consistent delivery of high quality, in-depth citizen education programs by institutions of higher education, aimed at busy, working adults in their surrounding communities; and
  2. The development of a philosophy sub-discipline ("integrative philosophy" ), where the philosopher-citizen scholarship can be housed and promoted, where graduate programs can be developed, and where graduate and undergraduate faculty can be certified.

Background:

Over the last several years there has been a convergent recognition by many scholars that Americans need to be better served in their roles as citizen decision makers, and that our institutions of higher education are capable of playing an important role in this effort. Although several worthwhile new programs have been developed, most are aimed at traditional full time students, and those that are aimed at adults focus on developing communication skills and/or community project groups.

But these programs do not address several deeper, philosophically oriented, challenges that face the individual citizen-thinker, namely: information overload, intellectual/paradigmatic/ expertise conflicts, conflicting yet legitimate ethical tensions, and the emotional challenges that result as we try to confront the awesome nature of the responsibilities we bear as citizens. Nor do they deal with a group of related institutional and disciplinary problems, such as: inadequate time, space and incentives for postsecondary institutions to provide in-depth citizen-education for adults in their surrounding communities; and the "professionalization" of the discipline of philosophy into an esoteric, specialist subject while seriously undervaluing its generalist/citizen roots.