What does it mean to engage philosophically at the community level?
Public engagement with philosophy spreads knowledge and builds critical, ethical and communicative skills capacity in the community. There are many ways in which this can happen, through: lectures and conversations; deliberation and critique of contemporary issues in the media; developing resources for use by communities; and, planning activities for involvement such as philosophy camps, cafes and community group events. This page aims to help you discover how you can get more involved.
There are plenty of philosophy lectures and discussions available on the internet. You can listen to some great programs and podcasts by Australasian philosophers discussing the impact and relevance of their research on a wide variety of topics. For example: on the ABC there’s the Philosopher’s Zone, Big Ideas, or The Minefield podcasts. Or, you might want to check out the Radical Philosophy program on Radio 3CR. Alternatively, a great series on Ethics Matters, or podcasts such as Little Bad Things. These are just a few suggestions to start your journey. Additionally, we’ve embedded a few of these videos below.
Australasian Philosophers write on all sorts of topics in the media. For example, on contemporary issues such as climate change, the impacts of COVID-19 and AI, as well as on the big questions, such as whether or not time exists. Or, how do you know you’re not living in a computer simulation? Philosophers provide a way of dissecting issues to lay bare the assumptions behind debates, but also emphasise clarity and address key problems and concerns. Some places to start are: The Conversation, AEON magazine, New Philosopher, as well as the daily media, such as the ABC. Other news websites and newspapers often feature articles by philosophers too, such as Newsroom in New Zealand.
Philosophers provide internet resources which you can use to assist in thinking through problems, and to inform your discussions at work, with family, and with friends. For example: take the sting out of those tricky conversations at xmas lunch by making use of resources on misinformation and climate change provided by the UQ critical thinking team; or find ways to discuss an issue with your child, such as whether or not they should do their homework. Or, whether or not getting a pug is a good thing. Resources by the Short & Curly team can assist with that.
You can also get involved with activities that philosophers organise such as philosophy camps, outreach events, cafes and community conversation in your area, or by enrolling in courses at the University of the Third Age.
Many Australasian community groups have been established which provide a wonderful contribution to the growth of philosophy. These can be great ways to get involved in something meaningful, and gain a lot while you do it. We can’t list all of these groups here, but Blackheath, Port Macquarie, or the Leichardt Library Inner West Philosophy talks are excellent examples of ways to get involved. Universities also frequently offer excellent outreach opportunities. The UQ Critical Thinking Project is a great example of this. We encourage you to look out for what’s available in your community.
As mentioned above, enrolling in Universities of the Third Age (U3A) are a great alternative. While typically understood as being for seniors, U3A are open to all. They provide opportunities for learning in a community-oriented, more casual manner. A range of organisations within Australasia provide such opportunities, through short courses, lectures, study sessions and other events. Many of these organisations offer philosophy classes, but what’s available and where frequently changes. If you’re interested, we encourage you to look into what opportunities are accessible locally. The following sites provide further information on U3A in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.
Alternatively, why not an invite a philosopher to come to your school, or conduct ethics or thinking training within your business, government or community organisation. Contact the AAP if you want to find out more, or if you have any suggestions on further resources that could be listed here firstname.lastname@example.org.