The Environmental Explorers Philosophy Summer Camp will be held June 3-7
PLATO: Can you describe where the idea of running a philosophy summer camp for children came from?
Environmental Philosophy for Children: A group of graduate and undergraduate students at University of North Texas (UNT) have volunteered at a local K-12 school for philosophy classes for the past 3 years. We heard from parents and the director that there was demand for a philosophy-related summer camp, and we thought this would be a good chance to develop an environmentally-themed philosophy summer camp and give back to the community. Our ongoing project has been to develop an environmental philosophy with children (EPWC), and this camp was a natural outgrowth from our previous work.
PLATO: How did you go about making this philosophy summer camp a reality?
Environmental Philosophy for Children: We contacted our professors and fellow students at University of North Texas, and reached out to the education and art education departments in order to form an interdisciplinary team. We then began meeting weekly in order to plan the basic scheduling, theme, and format from scratch, and started applying for funding. After this, we began outreach to local conservationists to cultivate ideas on-site for our curriculum. Eventually, we created flyers and a website, and formalized our camp curriculum while beginning the sign-up process. We have been very fortunate to receive a lot of support from our community!
PLATO: When will the philosophy camp be running?
Environmental Philosophy for Children: Our camp will be held between June 3 to June 7th, 2019. Our camp is currently full with participants (24 students). We are finalizing registration and reaching out to the parents for preparation. Meanwhile, we are finalizing materials for the camp, and detailed curriculum.
PLATO: What will the philosophy camp involve?
Environmental Philosophy for Children: Our camp is thoroughly place-based. Our place, Denton, is a suburban environment, situated north of Dallas with a population of approximately 0.13 million people (2017). Our population has almost doubled since the 1990s, which has invited high economic demands and urban development. Denton was also the site of a bitter political battle on fracking, which began after a fracking site was placed right next to a children’s play park. Yet, North Texas is uniquely intersected by multiple sensitive ecoregions (Grand Prairie, Cross Timbers, and Blackland Prairie), which are home to many different species, such as armadillos, box turtles, prickly pear cactus, and post oak trees. Given the particularity and complexity of our home, and the importance of listening to children’s voices, our end goal is to provide philosophical and artistic activities in and out of classrooms to engage and think toward an ecologically sustainable community and society at large.
We aim to serve local children by offering interdisciplinary education that focuses on philosophy and art education. We are happy to provide at least 6 (up to 8) need-based full scholarships to participate in the program, to broaden who can be included in our community of philosophical inquiry. As children’s voices and ideas are often neglected in environmental discourse, we feel it is important to listen closely to what they have to say and prepare a safe environment to learn with them. As our project focuses on the concept of place, the participants will have opportunities to be exposed and reintroduced to different landmark places within our region, including a small farm, Dallas Zoo, and Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area. Some of our participants might not have access to these areas without our program.
PLATO: Does your organization plan on offering more philosophy programs for your community in the near future?
Environmental Philosophy for Children: After the camp, we are planning to share our curriculum via our project website (p4c.unt.edu). Likewise, we are hoping to plan a public viewing of the art created by our students.
PLATO would like to thank Rika Tsuji for contributing to this blog post. The Environmental Explorers Summer Camp is supported in part by grant funding from the PLATO organization.