The Initiative on Philosophy in Educational Policy and Practice (IPEPP)


The IPEPP initiative has funded the following grants. Collectively, these grants are an initial step towards achieving our goal - to strengthen work that brings the tools and perspectives of contemporary moral and political philosophy to bear on concrete problems that arise in addressing problems of education practice and policy.

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2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013

2008 Grantee List

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Derrick Darby | Philosophy and the Racial Achievement Gap | University of Kansas
Bryan Warnick | Student Rights and the Special Characteristics of Schools | Ohio State University

Derrick Darby
Philosophy and the Racial Achievement Gap
University of Kansas

The persistence of racial inequalities in education has heightened the urgency to find ways to diminish and hopefully eradicate the K-12 achievement gap in the U.S. But how exactly should we understand the basis of our moral obligation to diminish racial educational inequalities in a liberal democratic society? Who is responsible for discharging this obligation? What steps in education policy and practice need to be taken to discharge it? These central questions will guide Darby in his research.

Darby is planning a series of three closely related papers to demonstrate how political philosophy can contribute to our understanding of why a liberal democracy must strive to diminish the racial achievement gap regardless of its causes and how it can contribute to our search for educational policy and practice to address this social problem. He will illustrate this by way of exploring the concrete case of whether we should adopt educational policies that offer black students cash incentives to improve their academic performance.

Bryan Warnick
Student Rights and the Special Characteristics of Schools
Ohio State University

Warnick’s project is to explore the “special characteristics of school environments” to better understand how schools can transform students’ moral and legal rights. What makes schools special from an ethical perspective? How should these characteristics modify students’ rights? What differentiates schools from shopping malls, airports, or public parks when it comes to individual rights and liberties?

Warnick intends to offer a philosophical defense of the notion of context-dependent rights that appears to underlie the “special characteristics” language of the Tinker vs. Des Moines decision. He also plans to analyze contemporary schools to identify the special characteristics of schools that appear to be relevant in transforming student rights. The anticipated outcome of this project will be to produce a book that addresses how the special characteristics of schools should transform our thinking about various types of individual rights and provide ethical guidance to educators making decisions in school contexts. A clearer understanding of moral dimensions of schools as they relate to students rights will bring order to a difficult and contested ethical and legal landscape.

2009 Grantee List

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Lawrence Blum | Racial Integration, Equality of Opportunity, and the Ethics of Teaching about Racism in the Context of a High School Class on Racism | University of Boston, Massachusetts
Eamonn Callan | Integration, Democratic Community, and Education, | Stanford University
Catherine Elgin | Ethics Across the Curriculum | Harvard University
Diana Hess | Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education | University of Wisconsin-Madison
Anthony Laden | Beyond the Civic Classroom: Re-framing Civic Education | University of Illinois at Chicago

Lawrence Blum
Racial Integration, Equality of Opportunity, and the Ethics of Teaching about Racism in the Context of a High School Class on Racism
University of Boston, Massachusetts

Blum will study the educating of high school students about races as part of a project on civic education in a multiracial and multiethnic democracy. The focus will be on pedagogical, ethical, and personal challenges of this teaching, especially in the context of a racially mixed class. He will draw on first-hand experience from a course of Race and Racism that he taught at a local high school. Blum intends to show that, and how, numerous important educational values can be realized in an integrated classroom that is generally very difficult to achieve outside of it. Some of those educational values include but are not limited to: an understanding of the role race has played in the U.S. and world history, and how understandings of race differ in national and regional contexts; learning how race continues to be relevant to opportunities available to different groups; and gaining a sense of civic-oriented attachment to those of groups other than one’s own.

Eamonn Callan
Integration, Democratic Community, and Education
Stanford University

Callan intends to work out an ethical conception of equal membership in a democratic community at the level of the state (e.g., the American state), given the challenge of large-scale immigration integration, and to figure out implications for educational policy. He will explore the idea that an anti-caste principle can capture a broadly acceptable ethico-political norm to which many citizens of contemporary liberal democracies in the West would likely subscribe, despite other deep disagreements about social justice and the best form of democratic government.

Catherine Elgin
Ethics Across the Curriculum
Harvard University

Elgin’s project will address the core question: how does education in factual disciplines transmit moral values? The study will be a philosophical analysis that focuses the epistemology of science and mathematics and related work in the philosophy of education. It will identify the moral values embedded in science and mathematics; show how values figure in the disciplines and what values contribute to the understanding those principles yield, and thereby; suggest a reorientation in thinking about scientific and mathematical education, by making salient their role in developing and justifying such values.

Diana Hess
Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Hess plans to address the disconnect between empirical research in democratic education and the philosophical reasoning that is necessary if research is to inform practice and policy making. She plans to take findings from her recent study about deliberation and democratic outcomes and identify three dilemmas that will be developed into case studies. She will then invite cross-disciplinary teams of discussants with expertise in ethics and democratic theory to tackle normative questions in social studies education such as should civics courses teach students to adopt a strong partisan identity, or try to keep students in a “perplexed middle” -- to become thinkers that appreciate all sides?; what ethical principles ought to guide the selection of topics for discussion?; and what is the teacher’s proper role during a class discussion?. The teams will look at evidence and how it might affect practice, and inform the development of publications about the study.

Anthony Laden
Beyond the Civic Classroom: Re-framing Civic Education
University of Illinois at Chicago

Laden hopes to better understand the value of civic education that both respects diversity and yet does not reduce it to education in civics. He plans to develop a theory of reasons and reasoning and apply it to questions of civic education. His approach to reasons and reasoning defines reasons as offers to speak for another, and thus make reasons inherently social rather than private, and the activity of reasoning as something that we engage in together. He will assemble a study group of philosophers, education theorists and practitioners to study a set of questions about the place and purpose of civic education and the ways in which schools might provide such education.

2010 Grantee List

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Kyla Ebels-Duggan | Creating Character: Autonomy and Moral Education | Northwestern University
Jennifer Morton | The Value of Non-Cognitive Dispositions: A Challenge for Educational Equality | City College City University of New York
Blain Neufeld | Civic Respect, Political Legitimacy, and Citizenship Education | University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Debra Satz, Eamonn Callan, and Rob Reich | Equality of Opportunity: Its Meanings and Significance in Public Education | Stanford University
Kyle Powys Whyte and Matthew Ferkany | Toward a Normative Framework for Environmental Education | Michigan State University
 

Kyla Ebels-Duggan
Creating Character: Autonomy and Moral Education
Northwestern University

Ebels-Duggan wishes to develop an understanding of moral education and its difficult relationship to autonomy through a dialog with the work of Immanuel Kant and John Rawls. She will specifically explore three issues concerning autonomy and moral education: the possibility and permissibility of moral education, the norms that should guide it, and some practical implications of our dependence on moral education. As the work progresses, she will produce three papers, one on the possibility and appropriate norms of moral education, grounded in the idea that the influence of proper moral education is rational rather than causal; a second paper considering the necessity of a worldview underlying moral education; and a third paper that deals with issues of moral responsibility.

Jennifer Morton
The Value of Non-Cognitive Dispositions: A Challenge for Educational Equality
City College City University of New York

Morton will investigate how emerging research on non-cognitive skills (such as emotional, social, and practical skills) complicates two central commitments of a liberal education: to neutrality and to equal opportunity. Liberal neutrality requires that the state’s institutions, including its educational institutions, remain neutral with respect to reasonable conceptions of the good. Equal opportunity requires that the state’s institutions give citizens an equal opportunity at pursuing their own conception of the good. Morton intends to show that recent empirical research on the role that non-cognitive skills play in enabling students to have access to two central primary goods—opportunities for higher education and well- paying jobs—creates a challenge for the possibility that a liberal education could satisfy both of these aims. She will then consider the impact of this challenge on educational policy.

Blain Neufeld
Civic Respect, Political Legitimacy, and Citizenship Education
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Neufeld plans to explore the education policy implications of political liberalism. His project will involve defending the claim that political liberalism should be understood as based upon a foundational principle of equal ‘civic respect’ for citizens, and exploring the implications of this account of political liberalism for education policy in pluralistic democratic societies. Neufeld will focus on the capacity of political liberalism and the principle of civic respect to reconcile the demand of accommodating social and religious pluralism with the goal of providing education sufficient for the free and equal citizenship of all persons. Articles written for the project will culminate in a book.

Debra Satz, Eamonn Callan, and Rob Reich
Equality of Opportunity: Its Meanings and Significance in Public Education
Stanford University

One aim of the philosophy initiative is to develop future scholars. To that end, we have awarded a large grant to Debra Satz at Stanford’s Bowen H. McCoy Family Center for Ethics and Society to develop a post-doctoral fellowship program. The fellows will engage in an investigation of the concept of “Equality of Opportunity” and its intersection with educational policy and practice. Satz proposes to award two-year fellowships to two scholars each year for three years. Fellows will join an interdisciplinary community of faculty members at Stanford from the fields of law, political science, education and sociology engaging in conversations about the normative values associated with equal opportunity in education. The goal of the program is to develop scholars with the necessary intellectual breath and commitment to undertake research at the boundaries of philosophy and educational policy long term.

Kyle Powys Whyte and Matthew Ferkany
Toward a Normative Framework for Environmental Education
Michigan State University

In a culturally and morally pluralistic society, the normative basis for environmental education in the public schools is a vexed but underexplored issue. Whyte and Ferkany propose that such a basis can be found in a combination of liberal principles, virtues, and skills that can be shown to improve deliberation on environmental issues. They seek to determine these principles, virtues, and skills through research in the relevant literatures in philosophy and environmental education, with particular attention in philosophy to the literatures on deliberative democracy, science, and environmental issues; on the legitimate aims of moral and civic education; and on environmental virtue ethics.

 

2011 Grantee List

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Richard Arneson and Michael Tiboris | Educational Autonomies: Competing Interests and Values in Education Theory and Policy | University of California, San Diego
Heather Battaly | Acquiring Intellectual Virtue | California State University, Fullerton

Richard Arneson and Michael Tiboris
Educational Autonomies: Competing Interests and Values in Education Theory and Policy
University of California, San Diego

Richard Arneson and Michael Tiboris propose to investigate the meaning and value of autonomy as a theoretical goal for education. Specifically, they will consider the multiple and potentially fractious autonomy claims within education, including parental autonomy and teacher autonomy. The project will develop a theoretical view about how these values should be understood, how they affect one another, and how these interests challenge and trade off against the other traditional goals of education like student academic achievement and equality of achievement. These tasks will be pursued with original philosophical work and the support of original research on various schools’ attempt to include autonomy as a goal in their curriculum and institutional design. This project will produce three papers, which build off of one another. The papers will move from autonomy as a concept, to how to consider student autonomy in relation to other competing interests like parental authority, and finally to how the aim of autonomy should be weighed against other educational aims.

Heather Battaly
Acquiring Intellectual Virtue
California State University, Fullerton

Stemming from Aristotelian virtue ethics, Battaly seeks to demonstrate that acquiring intellectual virtues are not simply a matter of acquiring knowledge, but rather developing firmly grounded character traits. Battaly draws upon empirical work to explain why knowledge is not sufficient for acquiring intellectual virtue, suggesting that research done on the role of emotions in explaining behavior reveals the non-cognitive dimension of character traits such as open-mindedness. Furthermore, Battaly argues that intellectual virtue (like Aristotle’s belief about virtue and excellence) requires training and habituation and that only minor environmental changes may affect the development of non-cognitive intellectual virtues.

2012 Grantee List

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J.C. Blokhuis | Public Educational Authority and Children's Rights from a Parens Patriae Perspective | Renison University College, University of Waterloo
Allen Buchanan | Education and Social Epistemology | Duke University
David Ebrey | Educating Reason and the Emotions: an Ancient Debate | Northwestern University
Patrick Frierson | Education and Autonomy | Whitman College
Ronald Glass, Samara Foster and Anne Newman | Ethical Issues in Equity-Oriented Collaborative Community-Based Research | University of California, Santa Cruz
David Hansen | Embodied Cosmopolitanism as a Framework for Education | Teachers College, Columbia University
Anna Marie Smith | School Integration and Educational Equity: Is There a Radical Egalitarian Future Hidden Within Anderson’s Imperative? | Cornell University
Bryan Warnick | The Ethics of Cash-for-Grades | Ohio State University

J.C. Blokhuis
Public Educational Authority and Children's Rights from a Parens Patriae Perspective Renison University College
University of Waterloo

Custody is the common law mechanism by which parents and public school teachers exercise legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the children in their care. Parens patriae is the common law doctrine by which the state, primarily through its legislative and judicial organs, oversees such fiduciary relationships. This is public educational authority in its most compendious sense. If the regulation of custody is a sovereign duty at common law, by some accounts of rights and duties, every child has a corresponding entitlement to custodial arrangements in which the public plays an ongoing role. Nowhere is this view more readily apparent than in judicial opinions featuring the key terms ‘parens patriae’ and ‘education’ – custody disputes in which the educational interests of children are necessarily implicated.

How have judges invoking the parens patriae doctrine in the diverse constitutional contexts of the US, the UK, and Canada conceptualized public educational duties and the corresponding educational rights of children? In his proposed monograph, Blokhuis hopes to bridge the divide between philosophers of education debating the welfare and developmental interests of future citizens and judges seeking to safeguard and promote the custodial interests of particular children.

Allen Buchanan
Education and Social Epistemology
Duke University

Buchanan’s research will focus on the implications of social moral epistemology for education. The project will focus on two main components 1) a critique of the role that public education has often played in the inculcation and transmission of some of the most morally dangerous false beliefs (about race, about the supposed biological roots of social problems, and the victimization of one’s own nation by other nations); and 2) a consideration of positive proposals for transforming education so that it can improve our epistemic performance by taking into account the imperfections of our epistemic practices and institutions and our normal cognitive limitations.

David Ebrey
Educating Reason and the Emotions: an Ancient Debate
Northwestern University

In this project, Ebrey asks, “What is the relation between reason and the emotions, and what role do they play in a good life?” He will explore the answer to this question by developing three papers that consider the differences between Plato’s and Aristotle’s accounts of moral education. He also plans to organize a major interdisciplinary conference which will bring together prominent scholars working on issues of character and moral education. Ebrey anticipates that these activities will put moral education back in the heart of current discussions of moral and political philosophy.

Patrick Frierson
Education and Autonomy
Whitman College

Patrick Frierson is investigating Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, and especially Maria Montessori, in order to address two problems related to education and autonomy: First, what kind of autonomy should education aim to cultivate? And second, how can education respect the autonomy that children (even infants) already possess? Rousseau, Kant, and Montessori all articulate and defend important aspects of the autonomy that should be an essential part of educational goals, but Frierson’s current project emphasizes arguments Rousseau and Montessori offer against the apparently common-sense view that children’s autonomy is merely a good to be promoted rather than an already-present right to be respected. Frierson uses these three theorists (and especially Montessori) to think through what sorts of autonomy children can have and how this can be respected in education. The immediate products of this grant will be two articles: one focusing on the double problem of education and autonomy in Rousseau, Kant, and Montessori, and a second providing an overview of Montessori as a philosopher, highlighting how her philosophy of education connects with important philosophical insights in a variety of areas.

Ronald Glass, Samara Foster and Anne Newman
Ethical Issues in Equity-Oriented Collaborative Community- Based Research
University of California, Santa Cruz

Ronald Glass, Samara Foster and Anne Newman received a large grant to develop an ethical code, casebook, and training materials for empirical researchers whose work involves collaboration with community partners. The PI’s argue that there are ethical questions that are not adequately addressed in existing codes of ethics, or in the common standards for the protection of human subjects of research. Their goal is to fill this gap by developing a philosophically grounded ethical framework for community-based inquiry. The outcomes of this work will be disseminated through the University of California Center for the Collaborative Research of an Equitable California (CCREC) and through their network of research centers and professional organizations.

David Hansen
Embodied Cosmopolitanism as a Framework for Education
Teachers College, Columbia University

David Hansen’s project focuses upon “embodied cosmopolitanism.” This descriptive and normative concept refers to how people in pluralistic settings fuse reflective openness to new ideas, values and practices, with reflective loyalty to local commitments and ways of life. Building upon recent empirical research in anthropology and sociology, Hansen hypothesizes that a cosmopolitan fusion of openness and loyalty can both be witnessed and cultivated in today’s schools. He will test the hypothesis by undertaking fieldwork in several culturally diverse public schools in New York City. At the same time, he will study the concept of embodied cosmopolitanism with a group of highly-regarded teachers from the schools.

Anna Marie Smith
School Integration and Educational Equity: Is There a Radical Egalitarian Future Hidden Within Anderson’s Imperative?
Cornell University

Smith plans to write a law review article that critically engages with Elizabeth Anderson’s recent book, The Imperative of Integration. Anderson argues, from a political philosophy perspective, that all forms of racial segregation – whether de jure or de facto – in housing and schools constitute a significant form of injustice. Further, she builds a suggestive “real world” moral philosophy experiment in which she envisions robust integrative reforms to schooling and housing segregation. Smith plans to adopt Anderson’s “real world” philosophical perspective, focusing specifically on the educational policies proposed by Anderson. Smith intends to argue that there are unintended injustices that are likely to result from Anderson’s suggestions. More generally, Smith hopes to gain a clearer understanding of the normative stakes and the thorny legal, moral, and socio-political dilemmas that have to be confronted by any serious policymaker seeking to address school segregation today.

Bryan Warnick
The Ethics of Cash-for-Grades
Ohio State University

Warnick’s project will examine the underlying assumptions of cash-for-grades programs by asking: What is being presupposed about human motivation, about the role of a “student,” and about the goals of education in a democratic society? He will also examine the practice of paying students as it relates to justice and educational equality, with a particular interest in answering: Can paying underserved students contribute to justice and educational equality? Does justice, in fact, require that we pay students for their now exploited “educational labor”? Or does paying students undermine needed systemic reforms and send the wrong message about the nature of democratic citizenship?

2013 Grantee List

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Elena Grigorenko | Education and Genomics | Yale University
Harvey Siegel | Teaching Evolution: A Question of Culture? | University of Miami

Elena Grigorenko
Education and Genomics
Yale University

Grigorenko and her Yale colleagues Bouregy, Latham, and Tan propose to explore the potential impact of the Human Genome Project in general and advances in personal genetic testing in particular on practice and policy in education, hypothesizing that such an impact will soon be experienced in full force, particularly as it relates to individualization in schooling. Grigorenko and her colleagues suggest that a discourse in moral philosophy and ethics is needed to prepare for this integration of education and genetics/genomics, even if today it is still only hypothetical. Thus, their work will focus on three objectives: 1) to delineate the relevance of genetics/genomics to education; 2) to outline the ethics concerning the integration of education and genetics/genomics; and 3) to consider the legal and regulatory issues specific to that integration. Grigorenko intends to take a mixed-method approach to this research, producing a moral philosophy position paper, a literature-/meta-review, and a focus-group study that investigate the issues pertinent to this emerging integration.

Harvey Siegel
Teaching Evolution: A Question of Culture?
University of Miami

Siegel’s study will take up a set of interrelated questions concerning the teaching of creationism or intelligent design (ID) alongside or instead of evolution in public school science classes. In particular, Siegel aims to answer: Should we respect the inclusion of creationism/ID in the curriculum not because it is good science but because it represents or constitutes an important cultural value that deserves protection on multiculturalist grounds? Siegel proposes to extend his previous work by arguing that it is an epistemological and moral mistake to teach science from a relativistic/cultural framework—i.e. it must be based on universalistic principles—but that this does not make it incompatible with multiculturalism. Further, Siegel intends to extend the argument that teaching ID fails to meet a principle of disciplinary adequacy, which takes priority over students’ and parents’ claims to cultural accommodations. He will offer an account of the legitimate force and inherent limits of ‘cultural value’ justifications of curriculum content, in science and more generally.