The first project in engaged philosophy focuses on philosophy in the schools, a long-standing interest that I first explored while I was still an undergraduate. (I spent two months working at the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children in Montclair, New Jersey before running the first Western Australian conference on philosophy for children at Yanchep in 1986.) More recently, I was the founding director for Philosophy for Children Alberta (2008-2015), and as a part of that helped to set up both in-school programs—such as a philosopher in residence program—and an innovative summer day camp, Eurekamp!, directed successively by John Simpson and Jason Taylor, that consistently draws around 250-300 young philosophers over a 4-6 week period. I am currently looking at the best ways to adapt these innovations so that they can integrate with the vibrant philosophy in the schools community in Perth, and Australia more generally. Here I will be working with VAPS at the state level and FAPSA at the national level.
The second project in engaged philosophy focuses on eugenics and disability, and is a direct result—through meeting students whose living relatives had been sterilized, putatively in accord with the Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta of 1928—of discovering the sordid history of eugenics in the province of Alberta and the role of my own employer, the University of Alberta, in it. Leading the federally-funded Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada project from 2010 until 2015, and helping to establishing the public and free resources at EugenicsArchive.ca, were two tangible contributions here. The documentary film, Surviving Eugenics (2015), which I co-directed with Jordan Miller and Nicola Fairbrother, and my book The Eugenic Mind Project (MIT Press, 2018), are further community-accessible resources that are available as a result of this work. I am currently looking to make the film available via streaming together with purchase of the book; it’s currently available for institutional purchase through our distributor, Moving Images Distribution in Vancouver. All of this work was made possible by the courage of eugenics survivors to tell their own difficult stories, the hard work of a team of about 80 people (most of whom were students), and the generous funding from the Community-University Research Alliance (CURA) program of Canada’s federal funding agency SSHRC. Central to the project has been an exploration of the relationship between past eugenic ideas, policies, and practices and their ongoing effects. I would expect to explore these further in the Australian contexts of the cultural eugenics of stolen generations, contemporary views of immigration restriction and the dehumanization of refugees, and the ongoing reproductive marginalization of people (especially girls and women) with disabilities.
You can find more on my work here immediately below, as well as in the section Eugenics, Disability, & P4C. I have recently started the group Philosophical Engagement in Public Life (PEiPL) in Melbourne, and anyone interested in the scope and activity of the group should get in touch with me. Developing it will be the focus of my attention for 2019.