American Association of Philosophy Teachers Studies in Pedagogy


published on February 4, 2023

Monica Janzen, Benjamin HoleOrcid-ID, Ramona Ilea

Civically Engaged Philosophy as a Way of Life

Teachers committed to seeing philosophy as a way of life (PWOL) often focus on assignments that help students develop personal practices, so they experience peace of mind, independence, and a cure from anguish. While we applaud these goals, our work highlights another important aspect of philosophy as a way of life that sometimes is overlooked. We want our students to experience a transformation toward seeing themselves as moral agents, growing in civic virtues, and developing “cosmic consciousness.” To reach this end, we utilize a civic engagement (CE) project that we call the “Experiments in Ethics.” This CE project consists of a series of small, interrelated assignments or “experiments” that help students develop habits and certain civic dispositions. While students complete the experiments throughout the semester, we argue that civically engaged philosophy as a way of life extends beyond the confines of the classroom and the semester as our students cultivate the ability to see themselves as ethical agents capable of making changes in their own lives and the communities in which they live.