The widespread perception is that most faculty members do not engage with the public—either because they don’t want to or because they know they won’t be rewarded for it.
In The Chronicle of Higher Education, historian David M. Perry (Dominican University) discusses obstacles to public engagement by academics. This is something that should be of concern to philosophers, especially. After all, we know that a lot of the public has no clear understanding (and often instead serious misconceptions) about what philosophers do. Scientists and politicians have very publicly expressed doubts about the value of philosophy. There have been discussions about how philosophers fare worse than other humanities in winning interdisciplinary grant competitions. In the United States, very few students are exposed to philosophy at the pre-college level. And so on.
The APA’s Committee on Public Philosophy has some programs geared to public outreach, including an op-ed contest and various panels. The Public Philosophy Network also hosts conferences and discussions. Let’s get some more ideas. I think it would be helpful for philosophers to share their thoughts about what to do to help bring philosophy to the public. What kinds of “public engagement” would be worthwhile? What have you tried? How did it go? How have your efforts been received by your colleagues and institutions?