[infobox color=”#6394bf” textcolor=”#000000″ icon=”comments”]From June 19-23, 2017 California Lutheran University will host the first SoCal Philosophy Academy for high school students in Thousand Oaks, CA.[/infobox]




The SoCal Philosophy Academy for high school students will be hosted at California Lutheran University and run by Dr. Brian J. Collins, Assistant Professor of Philosophy.


PLATO: What is the SoCal Philosophy Academy about?


Brian: The academy is intended to introduce high school students to the discipline and practice of philosophy as well as some perennial and contemporary philosophical issues and questions. The camp will meet daily from 9 am to 12:30 pm (lunch is provided) on the campus of California Lutheran University. All participants will be provided with a copy of this year’s text, The Philosophy Shop.


PLATO: Who is involved in running the SoCal Philosophy Academy?


Brian: This year I am the only organizer and teacher, but there will be undergraduate students from our Philosophy Club who will participate and help out. Since it is our first year, we have capped the academy to 15 students and have focused our outreach on Thousand Oaks High School and Newbury Park High School. In the future, with the help of additional funding and partners, we hope to grow the academy to serve more students at local high schools.


PLATO: What will a day a philosophy academy look like for high school students?


Brian: This year we will be using The Philosophy Shop as our central text to help provide students with a general introduction into the practice of philosophy and central issues. We plan to change the curriculum every year so that students can return each year for a new experience. We picked The Philosophy Shop because it raises philosophical questions and controversies through the use of stories, scenarios, poems and activities. This year we will be exploring questions in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, epistemology, and ethics through Socratic questioning and discussion.


PLATO: Why did you decide to offer a philosophy academy for high school students?


Brian: Before graduate school I taught middle school for three years, so upon entering graduate school I was already interested in teaching pre-college age students. While I was at the University of Iowa I developed and taught an Introduction to Philosophy class for high school students with my advisor, Richard Fumerton. At the same time, two of my friends Kris Phillips and Greg Stoutenburg founded the Iowa Lyceum (a philosophy summer camp for high school students–check out PLATO’s blog post about this here). I was fortunate enough to be an instructor at the lyceum for two years and wanted to do something similar at California Lutheran University. I am interested in integrating philosophy into the community in many different ways, and this academy is just the start!


PLATO: Why do you think it is important to introduce philosophy to high school students?


Brian: There are many reasons why I think it is important to introduce philosophy to young people, so here are just three:


[custom_list icon=”hand-o-right”]

  • I believe the practice of philosophical investigation is extremely well suited for the development of critical thinking and communication skills. These skills are broadly applicable which makes the study of philosophy highly practical!


  • I have found that people of all ages (especially children and young adults) find philosophy extremely interesting. I believe any intellectual activity that people find intrinsically interesting, motivating, and which creates wonder, ought to be encouraged, as this intellectual curiosity can easily transfer over to other intellectual investigations and can promote a love for life long learning and exploration.


  • In addition to being interesting, I believe that many philosophical questions are important because of their fundamental nature. These questions are important to ask and investigate in order to construct any coherent belief structure that relies on their answers. Such questions include: Do we have free will? What, if anything, can we know? What things are valuable? How should we act? What makes life meaningful?



PLATO: How do interested people register for the SoCal philosophy academy?


Brian: Any high school student can apply–it is not necessary that students have previous experience with philosophy, though students with previous experience are invited to participate as well. Interested students can apply by emailing me an application to briancollins@callutheran.edu, the following information:

  • Name
  • High School & entering grade level
  • Paragraph (200 words or less) explaining interest in participating in the academy

In the next year we plan to develop a website for the academy to help facilitate registration in the future.


PLATO: Are you in need of volunteers of other support for this year’s academy?


Brian: We are all set for this year, but we welcome any philosopher, high school teacher or undergraduate student interested in participating this year to contact me and let me know. I would be more than happy to have them. Currently the academy is supported by generous grants from the California Lutheran University Community Leaders Association, the Philosophy Department, and the College of Arts and Sciences. In the future, as we grow, we will looking to secure additional funding.


PLATO would like to thank Brian Collins for taking the time to contribute to this blog post and for offering a philosophy academy for high school students in Southern California.


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments