What is PLATO?


PLATO’s mission is to nurture young people’s curiosity, critical thinking, and desire to explore big questions, through philosophy and ethics programs for students, educators, and families.

Our innovative work serves thousands of students, teachers, and community members nationally and internationally, fostering analytic reasoning skills, self-confidence, and tolerance and understanding of diverse viewpoints. We offer:

  • High school classes addressing difficult ethical issues, such as our obligations to future generations and other living beings.
  • Elementary school classes that help children discuss their questions about such topics as friendship, justice, and time.
  • Online seminars for teachers about how to include philosophy in math, science, art, and other subjects.
  • Programs for families to inspire deeper conversations at home.

PLATO’s mission is based on the conviction that every child’s voice matters, and that philosophy helps young people to express their own ideas and questions confidently and well. Offering philosophy to young people, including those whose voices historically have been marginalized, brings needed new perspectives to philosophy and the humanities. See more about why we think philosophy is important for young people.

Our online and in-person programs, grants to innovative projects, open access publications, free online resources, and extensive financial assistance are all grounded in our commitment to diversity and inclusion. We believe every student deserves the opportunity to engage in philosophical conversations that matter to them.

In 2023, PLATO was awarded a national award for excellence and innovation.

Our vision: A future in which all young people confidently ask questions, express well-reasoned views, and welcome the perspectives of others.


Community        Respect        Equity        Inclusivity        Openness        Humility        Curiosity        Playfulness

We are committed to creating a community in which everyone feels welcome and experiences a sense of belonging. We respect the dignity, autonomy, and worth of all people of all ages.

We strive for equity.  Recognizing the importance of making our world more inclusive, we are dedicated to ensuring that all who wish to participate in our programs can do so.  

We cultivate openness, embracing creative and thoughtful new ideas; we value humility, realizing how much we can learn by listening to others.

Curiosity is at the core of our work: we wonder and ask questions throughout our lives. This work is serious, but we also value playfulness, celebrating the joy of all we discover by inquiring with others.  

“I learned about ways to engage my own beliefs and really think about why I had those ideas, what else did I believe in or not believe in, how did my experience shape my beliefs – the things we did in class let me become more aware of how I was thinking about my thinking.”
– High School Philosophy Student