“‘Cultivating a Culture of Encouragement’ Interview, Stollman and Weber (12m in)”
by Christopher Long & Mark Fisher, hosts

Sorry, listening to the audio on this website requires Flash support in your browser. You can try playing the MP3 file directly by clicking here.

Logo of the Public Philosophy Journal.Before my Web site redesign in the summer of 2015, I attended a great workshop for the Public Philosophy Journal, a Mellon Foundation funded project. Jennifer Stollman of the Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation coauthored a proposal with me to write a paper at the workshop titled “Cultivating a Culture of Encouragement” — the link takes you to an abstract for our paper.

The recording here features five groups, each talking about their projects. Jennifer and I are in the second spot, 12 minutes in. Learn more about each group on Dean Chris Long’s Web site here. Each group has their title listed, with a link to their abstract.

The whole audio recording of the 5 interviews comes in at around an hour long, but you can skip ahead. If you have any trouble with that, you can download the MP3 file here and use whatever player you prefer. Again, Jennifer and I are the second group of writers of five groups, a little more than 1/10th of the way in from the start.

Logo for Matrix, Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences.Thanks to Chris and his co-host Mark Fisher. Chris and Mark were both at Penn State University. Chris has since moved to East Lansing, Michigan, where he is now Dean of the College of Liberal Arts there. He and Mark are continuing work on the journal with a special digital humanities team there called Matrix.

Check out the full info about the episode and all of the guests featured in it and learn more about the Public Philosophy Journal.

Designs on Kids and Culture: Cartoons

While I have been writing A Culture of Justice, so many examples have come up to illustrate what I’m concerned about. The latest is from Charlie Brown. At the same time, it’s true that culture is a funny thing to think about when it comes to justice.

When I first read Plato’s Republic, I found it so strange that Plato addresses oddly specific decisions about which kind of music and arts should be allowed in just city. It is one thing to be concerned about music that promotes violence or that demeans women, but what does the mode of the music have to do with justice? By modes, I’m referring to the dorian, the phrygian, or the mixolydian modes. Plato believed that it mattered profoundly which modes of music were taught to young people. Here’s a YouTube lesson on the modes of music – probably longer than you need, but you can stop whenever or jump ahead:

Plato presented a highly authoritarian version of Socrates in the Republic, so much so that Karl Popper accused him of betraying his great teacher. Popper saw the real Socrates as an advocate for freedom and the open society. The early dialogues do seem to present a different Socrates from the late dialogues. Plato loved his great teacher, yet the Athenians killed unjustly. It is not surprising that he would be skeptical about the will of the people to lead wisely.

While I disagree with the extent of Plato’s heavy handedness, I think he was right to attend to culture’s relationship to justice. Today, we defend the freedom of expression to amazing lengths, protecting even hateful speech. The modes of music seem strange to think of limiting, sure, but it was once prohibited to show Elvis Presley’s shaking hips on television.

(more…)

Video of My Interview on WLOX TV News at 4

The video clip of my interview on WLOX TV News at 4 in Biloxi, MS, is included at the bottom of this post. I had a great time visiting the coast, seeing the beautiful water, and talking with some really nice people.

This is a still video frame from my interview on WLOX TV News at 4 in Biloxi, MS, about my book, Uniting Mississippi.

I also had a great time meeting Jeremy from Bay Books for the book signing afterwards at the West Biloxi Public Library. While I was at the TV studio, I was able to snap these photos.

(more…)

Logo of the John Dewey Society.Leaders of the John Dewey Society asked me to organize a panel workshop on public philosophy for the 2016 American Educational Research Association meeting. The conference them is: “Public Scholarship to Educate Diverse Democracies.” 2016 is also the 100th anniversary of the release of Democracy and Education. More info once details are finalized.

Date: April 8, 2016—April 10, 2016
Event: Leading - Public Philosophy Workshop: Building on Dewey's Example
Topic: "Public Scholarship to Educate Diverse Democracies."
Sponsor: The John Dewey Society
Venue: American Educational Research Association's Annual Conference
Location: Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Washington, D.C.
USA

If you're in D.C. and would like to meet, or if you have a group that is looking for a speaker, visit my Contact page.

Public Philosophy Is Worth It

Logo for WLOV Tupelo.I’ve tried my hand at a few new kinds of public engagement efforts that have borne fruit. The latest example for me is in seeking TV interviews to talk about issues in public philosophy, particularly some ideas about how I think Mississippi could benefit from good democratic leadership. I’m headed to Tupelo, MS for an interview on WLOV’s This Morning show, Wednesday, November 18th. Then, on Monday, December 7th November 23rd, (updated), I’ll be heading to Biloxi, MS to give an interview on WLOX’s News at 4 show. After each I’ll be holding a book signing, though only the one in Tupelo has been scheduled at this point.

The Thinker, statue.Scholars or readers curious about higher education may wonder: why do all of this? We certainly have enough work to do teaching classes, researching and writing, applying for grants, and serving our institutions and professional associations (the work of a professor is a lot more than what folks see in the classroom). Why add on to that with “outreach” or public engagement?

In “The Search for the Great Community,” from The Public and Its Problems, John Dewey argues that democracy’s prime difficulty has to do with how a mobile, complex, and many layered community can come to define itself and its interests. He believed that the key to addressing democratic challenges was to make use of democratic means, particularly communication. Democracy can embody wise leadership, but only with widespread, maximally unhindered communication, especially emphasizing the developments of human knowledge — the sciences, broadly speaking. For that reason, it is a clear and crucial extension of his democratic theory to value the public engagement of scholars with their communities.

Scan of 'First Day of Issue' envelope honoring John Dewey in the 'Prominent Americans' series. The envelope bears Dewey's stamp, which was valued at 30 cents and issued on October 21, 1968.

When Dewey referred to public engagement, however, that did not mean only a one-way street. Communication takes listening too. So, the point isn’t only for scholars to speak to audiences, but for them also to learn from the people. When I write, I draw increasingly often from newspapers and magazines to illustrate my points about what people are saying and experiencing beyond the academy. Scholarly research is vital, but so is the world beyond the academy. Some circles have criticized me for it in peer-reviews, but so far I haven’t let that dissuade me from seeing scholars’ task as needing to draw also on sources and input from beyond the academy. In addition, talking with people around Mississippi and in other states about my work has revealed all kinds of interesting insights. Some people offer me great examples that I can use to strengthen my points. Others highlight challenges for bringing about the kinds of changes that I believe are needed.

(more…)

Logo for Reed's GumTree Bookstore of Tupelo, MS.On Wednesday, November 18th, I’ll be heading to Reed’s Gum Tree Bookstore in Tupelo, MS, for a book signing for Uniting Mississippi: Democracy and Leadership in the South, from noon until 1:30 pm.

Earlier that morning, I’ll be giving an interview on WLOV’s This Morning show in Tupelo, MS. If you’re in Tupelo that day, the signing will be at lunch time, so come on by!

Date: November 18, 2015
Time: 12:00-01:30 p.m.
Event: Uniting Mississippi Book Signing at Reed's Gumtree Bookstore
Topic: Uniting Mississippi Book Signing
Venue: Reed's GumTree Bookstore
(662) 842-6453
Location: 111 S Spring St.
Tupelo, MS 38804
USA
Public: Public

Learn more about the book here. Please share this announcement with them and spread the word!

Logo for WLOX.

Excited that I’ll be interviewed on WLOX Biloxi’s News at 4 program to talk about Uniting Mississippi. With my publisher’s help, we’ve set up a book signing that day at the West Biloxi Public Library.

Date: December 7, 2015
Time: 04:00 p.m.
Appearance: Interview for the News at 4 show on Uniting Mississippi
Outlet: WLOX, Biloxi, MS, Channel 3
Location: Biloxi, MS
Format: Television

I'll be talking about Uniting Mississippi, which you can learn more about here.

Logo for WLOV Tupelo.Katrina Berry of WTVA has kindly invited me for an interview on WLOV Tupelo’s This Morning, to talk about Uniting Mississippi.

Date: November 18, 2015
Time: 07:45-08:00 a.m.
Appearance: Interview on Uniting Mississippi with WLOV’s This Morning
Outlet: WLOV, Tupelo, MS, Channel 27
Location: Tupelo, MS
Format: Television

I'll be talking about Uniting Mississippi, which you can learn more about here.

MS Prof Sees Hope for His State in Students’ Symbolic Flag Victory

The Hechinger Report
November 3, 2015

Logo for the Hechinger ReportHere’s my first piece in the Hechinger Report. It’s again on the subject of the students’ request to take the state flag down. In this case, I’ve written to a national audience, rather than just to a Mississippi audience (Clarion Ledger). Check it out.