Tools for Lifelong Learning through Philosophical Conversation and Community-Building

Grants and Contracts Details


Mini-Grant Application to Kentucky Humanities Project Description “Tools for Lifelong Learning through Philosophical Conversation and Community-Building” The aim of this project is to create content for use by local chapters of the Society of Philosophers in America, Inc. (SOPHIA), a national nonprofit centered in Lexington, KY, with a chapter here in Lexington. The product of this project will be 10 created, reviewed, revised, and tested “One-sheet” documents that are prompts for local groups that get together to enjoy engaging in philosophical conversation. SOPHIA’s mission is to “use the tools of philosophical inquiry to improve people’s lives and enrich the profession of philosophy through conversation and community building.” To that end, SOPHIA has become a membership and chapter organization, though community members can participate freely, at no expense, in a local chapter’s conversational meetings. Each chapter is using some online platform for organizing their meetings and the Lexington SOPHIA Chapter is using The group launched in March of 2018 and has 110 members already, with 12-20 coming to each meeting. The key for SOPHIA’s work is to make it easy for people to get together and to have substantive philosophical conversations of interest to our chapters. To make that easier, SOPHIA has a journal, Civil American, that is written and targeted to general audiences, as well as a radio show and podcast, Philosophy Bakes Bread, which airs on WRFL Lexington, 88.1 FM. The show won two awards from the station, Favorite Talk Show in 2017 and Overall Favorite Show in May of 2018. The show organizers are in conversations about the possibility of syndicating the program in Louisville as well. In addition to these productions, SOPHIA has created “one-sheet” documents about some of the journal’s essays, such as this one on “Clutter” (click here for the PDF), and some of the radio show/podcast’s episodes, such as this one on “The Molemen and Plato’s Cave Today,” (click here for the PDF). With tools like, gathering interested persons and letting them know about when and where to meet is easy. The crucial component for SOPHIA’s success is the creation of good one-sheet documents. They allow everyone at a meeting to be on the same page, literally, without having had time for prior reading, listening, or other homework. In person, groups either take a few moments to read the one-sheet quietly at the start of the meeting, or they choose to have different people read sections of it aloud in a round. Then, the group reviews the questions prepared for them and can either launch into one or suggest a new or different question first. These documents make the opportunity to understand and ponder important questions far more accessible than some traditional methods for holding conversations, and they have so far been very successful at enabling people to launch into genuinely Socratic discussions, rather than simply or passively listening to a lecture or panel of presenters. The One-sheet methodology was hard work to create and refine, but we have a system that has worked very well. We now need to enlist people to help us create many of these one-sheets. And, our Lexington SOPHIA Chapter has agreed to serve as our test space for trying out the one-sheets we intend to develop. With support from the Kentucky Humanities, we plan to solicit writers of one-sheet documents who will follow our guidelines for creating one-sheets, drawing on examples of the successful samples we have already. We will offer to pay authors of one-sheets $100 per one-sheet created and revised upon the receipt of feedback. Mini-Grant Application to Kentucky Humanities, Project Description, “Tools for Lifelong Learning through Philosophical Conversation and Community-Building,” The Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA), 2 We will also pay 10 other people $50 each to review each one-sheet carefully and to offer feedback with respect to substance, clarity, accessibility, and “invitingness” of the document. The latter is a term coined by Philosophy Bakes Bread co-hosts Weber and Cashio, in a recent essay about their work in public philosophy. The issue is that philosophy can be intimidating, but it need not be. It can be inviting. Most of SOPHIA’s members have Ph.D.’s or Master’s Degrees in Philosophy, and many of them have expressed willingness to consider creating one-sheets for $100 each. The members of SOPHIA’s Board of Trustees has also agreed to help create one-sheets. We aim to create 10 one-sheets primarily focused on the radio show/podcast episodes that have been the most popular (most downloaded), but also some for pieces published in Civil American. Examples of topics include: "The Public Philosopher and the Gadfly," "On Anger and Forgiveness," "Public Philosophy and Polarization," "Acceptance vs. Activism: Stoic Pragmatism," "Existentialism and Romantic Love," "Cakes, Capes, and Culture Wars," "Private Government," "Acceptance and Happiness with Stoicism," "The Future of Community College Education," and "Finding Peace." Once one-sheets are created, we will have a lineup of scholars to review the documents, as noted above, for substance, clarity, accessibility, and invitingness. Each review of a “one-sheet” will earn the reviewer $50, and the author of the one-sheet will be expected to revise the document according to the review. Then, the local Lexington SOPHIA Chapter has agreed to test out each one-sheet at one of its monthly meetings over the next year. That final test and feedback will be used to assess and incorporate feedback before revised posting of the one-sheet to SOPHIA’s Web site, where it will be made available online for free and with a thanks to the Kentucky Humanities. With the creation of each one-sheet, SOPHIA will have one of the leaders of the Lexington SOPHIA Chapter on Philosophy Bakes Bread’s time slot on WRFL Lexington, 88.1 FM to read the one-sheet aloud and talk about what the meeting of the local chapter will be like, when, and where. We will also announce meetings on as well as on the chapter’s Facebook and Twitter profiles. In addition, SOPHIA at the national level (based in Lexington) will announce the creation of each of our one-sheets as well, using SOPHIA’s Facebook page (57,000 “likes”), Twitter profile (4,300 followers), and the same for Civil American (FB with 138,000 “likes” and TW with 2,000 followers) and Philosophy Bakes Bread (FB with 101,000 “likes” and TW with 5,600 followers). We have not had any problems with raising substantial online awareness of our work and gatherings. For each one-sheet that is created with Kentucky Humanities support, we will thank Kentucky Humanities on the one-sheet itself, as well as on SOPHIA’s Web site. We will also thank Kentucky Humanities each time we read the content of a one-sheet live on the air on WRFL Lexington, as well as in the podcast if we end up making short episodes of Philosophy Bakes Bread as presentations of the one-sheets. 10 one-sheet creations & revisions after review @ $100 each: $1,000 10 one-sheet reviews @$50 per review: $500 Total request: $1,500 The match in this case will take the form of Executive Director Eric Thomas Weber’s contributed time, through the University of Kentucky’s Distribution of Effort related to his work in service to SOPHIA. Mini-Grant Application to Kentucky Humanities, Project Description, “Tools for Lifelong Learning through Philosophical Conversation and Community-Building,” The Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA), 3 Photos from Meetings of the Lexington SOPHIA Chapter
Effective start/end date10/31/1812/31/19


  • Kentucky Humanities Council Incorporated: $1,500.00


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