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Philosophy for Everyone

The goal of the Philosophy for Everyone program is to fill a gap, by providing opportunities for children and adults to learn about philosophy – whether in short, bite-sized presentations, in longer discussion formats, or in full-scale immersive experiences, like the Philosophy Camp.

The great majority of Americans have no opportunity to study philosophy until college, despite a growing body of research that shows that pre-collegiate engagement with philosophy helps students improve their reasoning, motivation, independence and self-esteem. Although Southeast Michigan is fortunate to have a thriving culture of high school ethics bowls, there are few opportunities for students at most high schools, and even fewer opportunities for working adults, to learn about philosophy.

Philosophy For Everyone is a service learning program, harnessing the energy of college students willing to come alongside people at various places in their life journey: people who are quite young and unfamiliar with philosophy, people who develop a love for philosophy later in life, and people who are simply curious to hear what we have to say. 

The Philosophy For Everyone program launched in 2023. Currently, we hold Philosophy Takeover sessions in several local high schools, but we hope to expand our Takeovers into various other contexts: workplaces, adult education classes, prisons, assisted living situations, military bases, etc. We believe that philosophy should go where the people are, and not wait for them to come to us.

A Philosophy Takeover is a visit to some location in which philosophy instruction is not the norm – whether an educational establishment or a quite different sort of place (e.g. an art studio), with the goal of raising philosophical conversations with the people there, communicating about philosophical concepts, and learning from one another.

We begin from the assumption that love of wisdom (philo-sophia) is not the exclusive province of academic philosophers, and we seek to engage this love wherever we find it, encouraging ourselves and those we encounter to think critically about their world.  We embrace a notion of education which does not prioritize grades or "getting the answer right", but aims for a deeper level of understanding.  We also spread the word about the existence of philosophy as a discipline and the presence of a philosophical community in Southeast Michigan, even as we involve participants in conversations that contemporary philosophers are engaged in.  In the process, we learn more about ourselves, about our communities, and about the philosophical views we cooperatively investigate.

If you are interested in a Philosophy Takeover for your school, program, or organization, please contact Daniel Propson at [email protected].

Who leads a Philosophy Takeover?

Philosophy Takeovers are planned by Oakland University philosophy students, in collaboration with Daniel Propson, a philosophy prof at OU and the executive director of the program. The Takeover itself may be led by a group of students or an OU professor.

Types of Takeovers

We have had Philosophy Takeovers of several different kinds:

  • Classrooms or small group settings: We will come to your small group setting prepared to lead a discussion about a specific topic in philosophy, perhaps the assigned theme for the year. We may also be able to relate our takeover to a unit in your classroom; talk to us and see what can be arranged.
  • Assemblies: We have sometimes come to talk to larger groups of learners. This would be more of an interactive presentation, and less of a discussion.  We've had great feedback from individuals who have attended such assemblies.
  • Field Trips: We also host groups of learners on the beautiful campus of Oakland University. This would involve 2-4 hours of content, centered around a philosophical theme.  We would spend some of the time outside on campus, enjoying the atmosphere and having conversations.  The rest of the time would be spent in a classroom or engaged in enrichment activities at the Oakland Center.

Oakland University students may be involved in Philosophy For Everyone in two possible capacities: as a volunteer, or as an enrolled student in the course PHL 3900, "Philosophy For Everyone".  This course requires students to complete a number of tasks that will support the PFE program and the OU Philosophy Camp. This is a 4-credit course which counts toward the philosophy major or philosophy minor. It can be retaken.

The goals and objectives of PHL 3900 are below. Please contact Daniel Propson at [email protected] with any questions.

Course Goals:

  • To encourage knowledge of philosophical concepts and themes by involving students in instruction and demonstration.
  • To help students encounter diverse institutions, populations, and viewpoints in a context that fosters understanding and personal growth.
  • To teach new skills to students, including skills related to teaching, running a business, grant writing, management, advertising and interpersonal communication.
  • To help students gain experience in leadership, teambuilding, and collaboration.
  • To give students a platform to become advocates: for philosophy and the liberal arts, for underprivileged individuals and underserved populations, and for the Philosophy For Everyone program itself.

Course Objectives

  • Students will use multiple forms of communication (in-person, telephone, email) in order to build relationships with professionals who are interesting in supporting our mission.
  • Students will gain experience team teaching, developing skits, creating promotional materials, and/or managing an organization's social media accounts.
  • Students will become familiar with philosophical issues surrounding each year's theme.
  • Students will create a lesson plan that is educational and engaging for participants in the program.
  • Detroit Public Schools
  • Roeper School
  • Avondale High School
  • OU College of Arts and Sciences
  • OU Center For Ethics

If you are interested in building a partnership, please contact Daniel Propson at [email protected].

Department of Philosophy

Mathematics and Science Center, Room 752
146 Library Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4479
(location map)
(248) 370-3390
fax: (248) 370-3157