Online Philosophy Series
PLATO is offering an online philosophy series for high school students in the 2023-24 school year.
Fall: Climate Justice
Winter: Truth, Opinion, and Misinformation
Spring: AI, Technology, and Ethics
Each class will meet weekly for six weeks on Zoom.
Classes are entirely free, thanks to a grant from Charles Anderson and Pamela Gross through the San Juan Island Community Foundation, and a contribution from an anonymous donor that enabled PLATO to double the number of students who can enroll in the program.
THE APPLICATION PERIOD HAS NOW PASSED. PLATO PLANS TO OFFER MORE OF THESE CLASSES IN THE FUTURE.
Fall 2023: Climate Justice
Tuesdays – October 10, 17, 24, 31, and November 7 and 14
Wednesdays – October 11, 18, 25, and November 1, 8 and 15
All classes 5-6:15pm Pacific Time
Climate justice is arguably one of the most wide-reaching and pressing environmental and geopolitical issues of our time. We will think together about such questions as: What do we owe to future generations? Is climate justice a matter of individuals making better environmental choices, or do we need to question and change the institutions that govern our lives? Do wealthy, industrialized nations have moral obligations to less affluent nations hardest hit by climate changes?
Instructor: Audrey Ledbetter will be teaching the fall series. Audrey holds both BA and MA degrees in Philosophy from Tufts University and is currently the PLATO Philosopher-in-Residence at Medford High School near Boston, MA. Her primary philosophical interests are K-12 philosophy education, ethics, and narrative self-understanding.
Winter 2024: Truth, Opinion, and Misinformation
Tuesdays – January 9, 16, 23 30, and February 6 and 13
Wednesdays – January 10, 17, 24, 31, and February 7 and 14
All classes 5-6:15pm Pacific Time
How true is the news? How do we know? How should we use and represent ourselves on social media? What obligations should media outlets have to their audiences? At a time when misinformation is easily spread, it is crucial to discern which sources are reliable as well as define and explore the nuances of beliefs, opinions, facts, and truth. Students will explore these constructs with the help of thought experiments, ethical dilemmas, and other activities.
Instructors: Dr. Jordan Sherry-Wagner and Dr. Karen S. Emmerman will be teaching the winter series.
Tuesday Class: Jordan is a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Washington who became involved in K-12 philosophy education as a Graduate Student Fellow with the Center for Philosophy for Children (now PLATO) from 2017-2019. Jordan has led philosophy sessions in a wide range of educational contexts.
Wednesday Class: Karen is PLATO’s Education Director, the Philosopher-in-Residence at John Muir Elementary School in Seattle, and part-time faculty in philosophy at the University of Washington. She has been facilitating philosophy sessions for young people for 13 years.
Spring 2024 Artificial Intelligence, Technology, and Ethics
Tuesdays – March 5, 12, 19, 26, and April 2 and 9
Wednesdays – March 6, 13, 20, 27, and April 3 and 10
All classes 5-6:15pm Pacific Time
Advances in technology and AI have reimagined what is possible in the near future. Driverless cars, robot teachers and caregivers, and ChatGPT are already changing our lives in ways we didn’t think possible not very long ago. Although these advances are nothing short of amazing, they bring up a host of ethical issues. Whose life should an autonomous car privilege in an accident? Is it okay to use ChatGPT to help write your essays? Who should control the development of these technologies?
Instructor: Erica Bigelow will be teaching the spring series. Erica is a Ph.D. student in philosophy at the University of Washington, where she studies injustice, disability, the emotions, ethics, and technology. She is committed to expanding access to philosophy and to helping students see the value of philosophical thinking in their everyday lives.
These classes will be interactive and collaborative, requiring attention and participation of all students. Students should have their cameras on during class, as visual presence both enhances a sense of community and increases accessibility for all participants.
Barring unforeseen circumstances and illness, we expect students to attend all six sessions in the series. Consistent attendance is important for building community and deepening our discussions over the weeks we meet.
Philosophical conversations involve topics about which reasonable people can disagree. All participants are expected to arrive prepared to listen carefully, thoughtfully engage with others’ ideas, and bravely share their own thoughts.
Session facilitators will ensure we maintain a respectful and intellectually safe community of inquiry. Students will experience the joys of thinking together about the ethical and other philosophical questions on our minds.
National High School Programs
High School Philosophy Programs
PLATO is committed to fostering the growth of philosophy in high schools around the US, including supporting:
- High school philosophy teachers interested in visiting other classrooms to lead philosophy sessions
- High school philosophy clubs, in-person or virtual
- Annual Philosophy Days
- Student-organized philosophy conferences
- Virtual speakers for high school classes on philosophy topics that align with classroom units
- Virtual speakers for philosophy clubs
- And other initiatives designed to bring more philosophy and ethics programs into high schools.
Ethics Case Writing Project
PLATO has launched a national student ethics case writing project. Any high school student in the United States can participate.
Accepted cases will be published on PLATO’s website, with credit to the writers, and students will receive $100 for each published case.
For more information, see the case writing project page.
For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Philosophers In Residence
In 2023, PLATO’s philosophers-in-residence program, which has been in Seattle elementary schools for more than a decade, expanded, thanks to a grant from the Whiting Foundation.
Students in three high schools – Medford High School (Greater Boston area), Academy at Palumbo (Philadelphia), and Rainier Beach High School (Seattle) – now enjoy regular philosophy sessions in their classrooms. The philosophers-in-residence also help design new lesson plans, run professional learning community workshops for teachers, mentor college students, lead parent programs, and be available for consultations with both students and teachers.
We hope to continue to develop this program in other schools and locations around the US.
For more information, contact us at email@example.com.
Seattle High School Programs
Philosophy and Ethics Program for Seattle High Schools
PLATO philosophy instructors are available, at no charge to Seattle Public Schools, to lead one or more sessions on ethics or philosophical questions that arise in the high school curriculum. These sessions are structured to reveal deep questions about the discipline and to further engage students with the material.
No experience with philosophy required.
For example, we offer sessions on:
- The nature of knowledge
- Justice and fairness
- The meaning of infinity
- Climate Justice
- The relationship between facts and values
- The aims of science
- Animal ethics
- The nature of law
- and any other topic that aligns with a classroom unit.