The American Philosophical Association (APA) has taken a beating the last few years in the philosophy blogosphere for a variety of reasons. In particular, there have been lots of objections and concerns about the role, influence, experience, and priorities of the current APA leadership.
As the new President of the Illinois Philosophical Association (IPA), I want to shift the discussion and talk about the role of state and regional philosophical associations. Particularly I want us to discuss expanding the role of these groups beyond just organizing conferences to promoting the interests of philosophy and philosophers in our particular states and regions. Additionally these state and regional organizations can play a bigger part in informing and reporting to the APA what the state and regional members need from the national organization.
Ideally, these organizations should make efforts to influence political and public support for philosophy in their regions when they can—this might be as simple as maintaining an accurate list of all the philosophy programs in the state or promoting philosophical events. Additionally, our regional groups allow members of the profession who are not active at a national level to contribute to philosophy in a concrete way that immediately impacts their state, region, and school.
So, I am opening up an initial forum here for how state and regional groups can support one another and be a kind of grass roots effort for explaining to the APA what philosophers want and need from each other. I’ll continue the resource at the IPA page going forward. We each know our own state politics and programs better than others, and so we should be able to present a more united front on important issues. There is no one size fits all model, but learning from each other and avoiding reinventing the wheel is a good idea. It’s also a way for philosophically resource poor states, like those I wrote about in this post, to join together and promote philosophy.
If you are or have been a past president or officer of a major association or society, please discuss what you think these groups could do as a way to promote philosophy and craft the larger narrative for the discipline at the national level.
One thing that I have done this year, in my role as president, is schedule our conference at a community college rather than one of the traditional state universities. So this coming fall, the IPA is scheduled to hold its meeting at Illinois Central College in Peoria, Illinois. I believe this will be good for the philosophers teaching in that program as well as ICC students. I think more societies meeting at community colleges would be good for the profession and students because it will provide students access to philosophy in a way that they didn’t have before, and if you don’t know how I feel about access to philosophy, read this post.
Comments are open.