The Philosopher-Citizen Institute

at Pasadena City College

A Brief Description of "Civic Philosophy"


             Civic Philosophy provides a home for scholars who recognize the value of the generalist and meta-disciplinary roots of philosophy, and who wish to make meaningful contributions to one of the most fundamental missions of philosophic practice–the creation of citizen-thinkers.  We are making connections with philosophers, philosophically-inclined scholars and students from all disciplines who are concerned about the lack of incentives in the academy for rigorous, generalist-oriented scholarly study that focuses on the challenges facing the citizen decision maker.  Scholars of civic philosophy address the intellectual, emotional and spiritual fragmentation faced by individuals as they confront contemporary civic life.  They focus on the discipline of philosophy as an integrative practice, not as a body of knowledge; and they envision themselves as bridge-builders between this careful practice and the needs of the citizenry.   


             As philosopher Bruce Wilshire chronicled in “The Moral Collapse of the University,” philosophy’s gatekeepers now require that professional philosophers must specialize in smaller and smaller areas of study.  We certainly do not challenge the idea that philosophers have made important contributions in their roles as specialists.  But in today’s academy, there appears to be no opportunity to specialize in being a generalist.  The Philosopher-Citizen Institute’s scholarly activities hope to inspire the discipline to reopen its doors to its holistic foundations.  A major goal of civic philosophy is to re-acknowledge and reexamine the sources of complexity of life and thought, and also to refine ways for diminishing the chances that people will become driven by their unresolved knowledge-related conflicts to accept the easy answers, which are the conventionally-framed sets of life choices, whether political or academic. 


             The ideals of civic philosophy are mirrored in our Western tradition of liberal education, from the original notion of the academy to the great books tradition all the way to the contemporary movements toward integrative general education programs.  In these programs we find faculty from many disciplines who are dedicated to building a more responsible and aware citizenry.  There are also many members of the professoriate from research universities and community colleges who take this mission very seriously.  Those from all disciplines who feel this strong sense of mission are most welcome to join our discussions, as well as concerned citizen-thinkers from outside the academy.

Prepared by Dr. Linda S. Handelman


To contact us:     


Phone:  626-585-7406

Text Box: 
Join us at our 
APRIL 7, 2006 -- 2-5 PM


Dr. Linda Handelman (Philosopher-Citizen Institute Director & Asst. Professor of Philosophy at PCC):  
	Welcome and Introductions
Dr. Edward Feser (Philosophy Instructor: Pasadena City College): 
	"Civic Philosophy in the Natural Law Tradition(s)"
Dr. John Roth (Edward J. Sexton Professor of Philosophy; Director—Center for the Study of the Holocaust, 
   Genocide & Human Rights: Claremont McKenna College): 
	“Philosophy in Public: The Legacy of American Philosophers”
Dr. James Nichols (Professor of Political Science: Claremont McKenna College):  
	“Rhetoric and the Citizen: Civic Philosophy’s Classical Greek Legacy” 

Dr. Michael Finkenbinder (Professor of Philosophy and Social Sciences Division Dean: PCC): 
	“The Devaluation of the Rational Citizen in the 20th Century”
Dr. Richard Jacobs (Professor of Education Emeritus & Founder of the Integrative Education Program: 
    Cal Poly Pomona): “From Concept to Context: The Development of the Citizen-Philosopher” 
Dr. Mariusz Ozminkowski (Lecturer in Political Science., Communication, Argumentation, & Political Theory:  Cal Poly Pomona & PCC): 
	“Civic Philosophy–Finding Principles or Muddling through a ‘Garbage Can’?”  
Dr. Linda Handelman: “Brief Remarks on the Integrative Challenges Facing the Citizen-Thinker”
Mr. Nicholas Buccola – ABD, University of Southern California
Dr. Gerda Govine – EdD - Education, Columbia University; Communications and Legal Consultant
Dr. James Kossler – President of PCC 
Mr. Larry Wilson – Editor, Pasadena Star News

COLLOQUIUM FORMAT:  Presenters will have up to ten minutes to present their ideas.  In each section, after the 3 papers are presented, we will begin an open dialogue where co-presenters and our panel of responders will have first preference of being called on to discuss any of the ideas that have been presented.  Then we will include audience comments and questions.  The complete dialogue will be recorded, edited and released as the first edition of Philosopher-Citizen online journal.  Any comments by our audience members will be attributed to them, with their permission (the same is true for our presenters and responders).

COLLOQUIUM CHALLENGES & GOALS:  Typical contemporary scholarly discussions focus on narrow topics, yet we are presenting a great breadth of creative ideas in a very short time.  Because the purpose of civic philosophy is to help citizen-thinkers confront the myriad of difficult challenges they face as ethical decision-makers, broadness is a fundamental component of our scholarly study. And this very broadness is probably the most formidable challenge we face as scholars. To help meet this challenge, it will be helpful to focus on two main goals of our discussion: 1) to attract other like-minded scholars (in and outside of academia) to our concentration via our online journal; and 2) to develop an agenda for future inquiry and discussion.  These two goals require that we attempt to explore our similarities and differences via a dynamic, integrative discussion (as opposed to a boring, nit-picky discussion).