Programs at the University of Washington

University of Washington Courses in Philosophy for Children

Philosophy for Children

Our relationship with the University of Washington Department of Philosophy allows us to offer courses for University of Washington graduate and undergraduate students in which students learn to lead philosophy sessions in K-12 classrooms, with supervision and mentoring from experienced instructors. Each year, we offer an introductory class in the fall and then a more advanced seminar for undergraduates, combined with a graduate seminar, each winter.

These classes focus on ways to establish classroom “communities of philosophical inquiry,” and university students develop an understanding of how to inspire philosophical discussions with K-12 students. The emphasis is on learning by doing, and each class session operates as a community of philosophical inquiry.

Sample Syllabi

Click the following links to view samples:


What Students Say

Our work was highlighted in the 2014 University of Washington Provost’s Report on innovative teaching approaches. Involvement in philosophy for children classes has inspired hundreds of undergraduates over the years.

Here’s what students say about the courses: 

“During my time in this class I have had many realizations, one of them being that asking a question is the answer to all questions. I’ve taken away so much from this class much more than any other course I have taken at the University of Washington. I say this because this class encouraged me to be an individual and I felt that I was always pushed to think differently, as opposed to the usual classes here where you are graded by your ability to be smarter at something than someone else in this class. The class encouraged us not to be the same and we are embraced for our individuality. This class has taught me to ask questions and to realize that there are so many answers to one question, but the answers we seek are not to fulfill our need to know what’s right or wrong but to fulfill our curiosity about the nature of things.”

“This class has allowed me to chisel away at the cover that has hardened over my curiosity and imagination. I don’t know how I could possibly go about living ‘real life’ without using what I have learned in this class.”

“I think a new perspective on the very real ability of children to be philosophical, a deeper understanding of my own beliefs on subjects like life, death, compassion, time, and right and wrong, as well as new thoughts and perspectives about those same subjects generated by my classmates are some of the most valuable things I learned in the class.”

“If I had to choose absolutely one take away from this class, it is to try my best to completely listen to the points of others.”

Fellowships for Graduate Students


In 2013, the Philosophy for Children Fellowship Program for graduate students was established at the University of Washington. These fellowships are open to graduate students in any University of Washington department or college.

Fellows are involved primarily in the “Philosophers in the Schools” program, which sends UW graduate and undergraduate students into Seattle K-12 schools to lead philosophy sessions, as well as the Washington State High School Ethics Bowl and other related activities.

For academic year 2022-2023, each Philosophy for Children fellowship is $4,500.

For more information, please contact PLATO Executive Director Jana Mohr Lone at

Fellow Responsibilities

  1. Enrollment in our fall quarter course (PHIL 205, Philosophy for Children, taken as PHIL 584) and our winter graduate course, Philosophical Inquiry in Schools (PHIL 595).

  2. Involvement in teaching philosophy in Seattle schools and mentoring undergraduate students involved in the “Philosophers in the Schools” program.

  3. Participation in the Washington State High School Ethics Bowl, including helping to organize the event and attendance and involvement at the competition.

  4. Total time commitment is expected to be an average of 4-5 hours per week (not including attendance in the philosophy for children courses) for the three quarters of the academic year.

  5. Fellows are assigned mentors to help guide and support their fellowship work.

Application Information

The fellowship application process consists of the following:

  1. Please submit a one-page statement describing your interest in being involved in the “Philosophers in the Schools” program. Please include complete and current contact information. Experience in philosophy, K-12 teaching or philosophy for children is not required for this fellowship.

  2. Each applicant should attach to his or her statement one letter of support from a faculty member in the applicant’s department who can speak to the student’s suitability for this fellowship. If you are not yet at UW, please submit a letter of support from a faculty member at another institution.


All application materials must be submitted electronically each year by May 20. Please submit your materials using the form to the right (or below on mobile).


Current & Past Fellows


Melissa Diamond is a second-year M.Ed student in the College of Education’s Social and Cultural Foundations program. In 2020, she graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. in philosophy and a B.S. in computer science. Her research is in the philosophy of education, with a focus on the ethical questions surrounding environmental education in the context of global climate change. After serving as a PLATO graduate fellow last year, she is thrilled to continue doing philosophy with students this year. In her free time, Melissa loves to cook and bake, backpack, and work on improving her film photography.




""Rotem Landesman is a second-year PhD student at the iSchool at UW. Her research looks at the considerations of designing technological interventions for children in the industry, their role in child and teen wellbeing, as well as the many benefits of critically examining technology and its advancements through philosophical praxis with children. Prior to attending UW, Rotem earned a B.A. in Communications at Reichman University, as well as a M.A. in Philosophy, Science and Digital Culture from Tel Aviv University. Rotem is excited about the opportunity PLATO presents to work closely with children, and is humbled to be a part of a program aimed at empowering young thinkers through philosophy.



Brian Tauzel is a PhD candidate in the College of Education, and the coordinator of the English Language Learners endorsement program for K-12 teachers. Before coming to Seattle, Brian taught English and social studies to teens from more than 50 countries at a newcomers high school in New York City. His current research focuses on civics teachers’ professional learning through dialogues with diverse immigrant youth. He is excited to join PLATO this year, and is looking forward to learning alongside young people through conversations and shared meaning making.





Erica Bigelow
Melissa Diamond

Elina Castellano
Ari Hock
Nic Jones

Natalie Janson
Nic Jones
Jordan Sherry-Wagner
Christina Zaccagnino

Natalie Janson
Jordan Sherry-Wagner
Christina Zaccagnino

Bridget DuRuz
Darcy McCusker
David Phelps

Bridget DuRuz
Joey Miller
Dustin Schmidt
Debi Talukdar

Di’ Anna Duran
Janice Moskalik
Debi Talukdar

Janice Moskalik
Alain Sykes

Apply Now

    Certificate of Mastery for UW Graduate Students


    Created in 2019, the Certificate of Mastery in Philosophy for Children is intended for University of Washington graduate students interested in developing the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully lead philosophy sessions in K-12 classrooms.

    The Certificate Program is open to University of Washington graduate students in any area of study, and involves a combination of coursework and practical experience in the classroom.



    Certificate Requirements for University of Washington Graduate Students

    1. Completion of Phil 595 (Philosophical Inquiry in Schools) (5 credits)

    2. Completion of the following, after consultation with the certificate advisor:

      • At least two ETHICS or Philosophy Courses – Recommended Courses:
        • ETHICS 511 (especially advised for students with little or no philosophy background)
        • ETHICS 512 (especially advised for students with little or no philosophy background)
        • PHIL 406
        • PHIL 410
        • PHIL 412
        • PHIL 440
        • -OR- A 400- or 500-level philosophy course approved by the certificate advisor
      • At least two of the following Education Courses:
        • EDPSY 302 (through a 400-level independent study) Child Development and Learning
        • EDPSY 404 Adolescent Development
        • EDPSY 501 Human Learning and Educational Practice
        • EDPSY 502 Developmental Foundations of Early Learning (EDPSY501 is prerequisite)
        • EDSPE 503 Classroom Management for Elementary School Educators
        • EDLPS 520 Education as a Moral Endeavor
        • EDLPS 521 Philosophy of Education
        • EDLPS 530 History of Education in the US
        • EDLPS 538 Education for Liberatione
    3. A minimum of 40 hours in K-12 classrooms (observing, assisting, and/or facilitating philosophy sessions), at least half of which should be facilitating philosophy sessions as the lead instructor, and including successful evaluation from a trained philosophy facilitator to certify readiness to be a lead facilitator for philosophy sessions. Students can earn up to three credits for their work in classrooms through PHIL 584.

    4. A Capstone Experience, involving either completion of the Center’s annual June workshop or a talk given in the Philosophy Department, College of Education, or at a school or similar location, which must be approved by the certificate advisor, about the Certificate Candidate’s work in schools.

      For more information, please contact PLATO Executive Director Jana Mohr Lone at

    Washington State High School Ethics Bowl


    “The Ethics Bowl has prepared me to go into a conversation ready to have my mind changed.”
    – Seattle high school student

    The Washington State High School Ethics Bowl, run by PLATO and the University of Washington Department of Philosophy
    is a competition in which teams analyze a series of wide-ranging ethical dilemmas involving topics such as cheating, plagiarism, peer pressure, relationships, and abuse of social media. An Ethics Bowl is similar to debate, although in Ethics Bowls teams are not forced to take adversarial positions or to hold fast to an assigned perspective. Instead, students have a forum in which to engage in dialogue, and they are judged on the quality of their analysis and the degree to which they engage in a thoughtful, civil exchange.
    Although the High School Ethics Bowl is competitive, it is intended to promote collaboration. Teams do not have to take pro/con positions; in fact, they can agree with each other. They are not required to refute each other’s points, but rather to offer commentary on one another’s arguments. Teams are judged according to the quality of a team’s reasoning and how well team members organize and present their cases, analyze the case’s morally relevant features, and anticipate and preemptively respond to commentary and questions. Judges for the Washington State High School Ethics Bowl are drawn from the local legal, education, and philosophical communities.

    The 2023 Washington State High School Ethics Bowl was held on March 11, 2023, at the University of Washington School of Law.
    Awards went to the following schools:
    First place: Lakeside School Team 1
    Second place: The Bush School  Team 2
    Third place:Lakeside School Team 2
    Award for Civil Dialogue: Chief Sealth High School and Eastlake High School
    Information about the 2023-2024 program will be available in the fall.
    For more information about Ethics Bowls generally, click here.
    The Washington State High School Ethics Bowl does not participate in the National High School Ethics Bowl.

    The 2022 Washington State High School Ethics Bowl was The 2022 Washington State High School Ethics Bowl was held in person on Saturday, April 2, 2022, at The Bush School
    Awards went to the following schools:
    First place: The Bush School 
    Second place: Ballard High School Team 2
    Third place: Eastlake High School 
    Award for Civil Dialogue: Lake Washington High School 

    Ethics Bowl 2014 on Vimeo


    Cases and Resources


    Information about the 2023–2024 program will be available in fall 2023.


    A Huge Thank You To All Our Sponsors!

          UW Arts & Sciences logo

    Register Here

      Monthly Seminar for Local Teachers


      PLATO hosts a monthly professional learning community on Philosophy in Schools, which was started in 2017 by the University of Washington Center for Philosophy for Children. The seminar, for teachers, graduate students, and others interested in philosophy with young people, serves as a forum for discussions of both philosophy and pedagogy. Participants have opportunities to lead some of the sessions.

      This seminar has led to the creation of a wonderful community of educators who return monthly to engage in philosophical inquiry and further their practices. Each session is 90 minutes long and is conducted as a community of philosophical inquiry.

      Since 2020 the learning community has been meeting online, although we hope to return to at least some in-person meetings in the future. It is free to attend.


      If you would like to join the seminar, please contact PLATO Program Director Debi Talukdar at

      Visiting Scholars and Educators

      Schedule & Description

      PLATO regularly hosts visiting scholars and educators at the University of Washington and serves as a national and international resource in the field. We have hosted visitors from many countries around the world, as well as other parts of the United States.

      Visiting scholars and educators sit in on university philosophy for children classes, observe philosophy sessions in local public schools, and attend High School Ethics Bowl practices and/or competitions. We have hosted visitors for anywhere from one day to an entire semester.


      For more information, please contact PLATO Executive Director Jana Mohr Lone at