IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT CONCERNING THIS INITIATIVE:
As of May 31, 2015, the Spencer Foundation will no longer be accepting proposals for this initiative. The Spencer Foundation will continue to support work in philosophy of education through a grant program administered by the Center for Ethics and Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and in collaboration with the University of Illinois Chicago. Details about the new grant program are available on the Center for Ethics and Education website. See sidebar for contact information for the Center for Ethics and Education.
Through this grant to the Center, the Foundation aims to continue 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. Some such problems, like issues of efficiency and fairness in the distribution of educational resources among different socio-economic, ethnic, and racial groups, are long-standing; others, like the use of neurological data (such as brain scans) in diagnosing and “treating” students’ educational difficulties, are novel. Challenging issues like student privacy arise in the daily work of individual teachers; others, like the proper role of religious instruction in public education, are community - or nation-wide. Educational policy and practice provide rich material for philosophical reflection, and policymakers and practitioners would benefit from the arguments and insights provided by the kind of work we are proposing to support.
Doing this work well is difficult. It is best done by scholars who combine deep institutional and practical knowledge of educational policy-making and the daily work of teaching with the analytical skills and intellectual background afforded by education in moral and political philosophy. Few leading political and moral philosophers have elected to work seriously on educational questions, and it is equally rare to find experts in the worlds of educational policy and practice with strong preparation in philosophy.
The aim of the Center for Ethics and Education is to substantially improve the quality and to expand the scope of work in this important field. Success will require engaging over time with several more-or-less distinct segments of the philosophical community, including
- Encouraging the work of those scholars of moral and political philosophy who have consistently done excellent work on educational issues;
- Encouraging deeper engagement with education among moral and political philosophers who may be favorably disposed to the subject but have not worked extensively on it; and
- Assisting in the training and encouraging the work of advanced students and less experienced scholars who may find developing a specialty in education congenial.
In addition it shall promote improved communication and better mutual understanding across the divides among philosophers, social scientists, policy makers and educational practitioners.
All the IPEPP Research Grants can be searched in the Grant Library.