Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice

Volume 4, Spring 2022

Jacqueline Mae WallisOrcid-ID, Karen DetlefsenOrcid-ID
Pages 91-109

Philosophy, Academic and Public
Lessons from the Graduate Certificate in Public Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania

In 2020, the University of Pennsylvania instituted a graduate certificate in public philosophy. In many ways, this certificate formalized and recognized the public engagement work that graduate students in the philosophy department and beyond had been involved with for some years. One element of the certificate, however, was pivotal in moving our work in public philosophy forward in important ways. This element is the research seminar in public philosophy. In this paper, we recount the motivation for the creation of the certificate and especially the motivation for the inclusion of the research seminar. We also explore ways in which such a certificate, along with the deliberately self-reflective work of the research seminar, might help us reimagine the nature and value of philosophy and its connection with human life and flourishing. We focus on metaphilosophical themes such as the very nature of philosophy and the philosopher as well as the importance of cultivating a new generation of academic philosophers committed to transcending the distinction between the academy and the public and, relatedly, between academic philosophy and public philosophy.