New Group: Philosophers for Sustainability

Philosophers for Sustainability is a new group of philosophy faculty and graduate students interested in working toward environmental sustainability and combating climate change in practice, especially within academia.

The group is the creation of Eugene Chislenko (Temple University) and Rebecca Millsop (University of Rhode Island). They plan to develop it with input from the community of professional philosophers, and to that end will be hosting a pair of conference-call forums interested parties can join. They’ve asked me to pass along the following message.

Dear philosophers,

We are writing to you as the co-founders of Philosophers for Sustainability, a newly formed group of philosophers that aims to encourage our profession to take leadership on climate change and environmental sustainability. We agree with the current scientific consensus that climate change is real, caused largely by human activity, already having significant effects, disproportionately impacting many of the groups that are underrepresented in philosophy, and poised to worsen dramatically within our lifetimes. We believe that everyone has a role to play in combating climate change and ensuring a sustainable future. And we believe that philosophers, despite our disproportionately large carbon footprints, are well positioned to think, teach, and lead effectively about the complex environmental issues we now have to face. We are attempting to integrate environmental issues into our work as philosophers, not only in our research, but, more immediately, in a wide range of philosophy courses and in our service to the profession. We have a few different projects underway, and are actively seeking new projects and new members.

We write to you now because we are seeking input from the broader philosophical community, and especially from philosophers of color and members of other groups underrepresented in philosophy, about the ways in which philosophers would like to see the profession grow with respect to issues of sustainability. We are inviting all interested philosophy graduate students and faculty to join one of two Forums on Sustainability in Philosophy, by conference call, on Wednesday, February 27, 6:00-7:00pm, or Saturday, March 2, 3:00-4:00pm Eastern Standard Time. The two forums will be identical in format and aim. Each one will focus mainly on participants’ suggestions and comments, followed by discussion of next steps.

Please feel free to forward this email and spread the word. To sign up for a forum and receive instructions for joining the call, please email Philosophers for Sustainability at [email protected] with your preferred time.

Cover art from Angles, “Every Woman Is a Tree”

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Paul B. Thompson
5 years ago

I would like to see this initiative fleshed out in a little more detail before committing to my time to a conference call, especially during my off hours. After all, there is already a fairly extensive philosophical literature on sustainability, with many papers and book length contributions from people such as Bryan Norton, Sarah Fredericks, Randall Curry and myself. A recently published collection edited by Ben Minteer and Sahotra Sarkar includes a number of philosophical papers on both concepts and methods for promoting sustainability. Are you focused on a different set of issues, say ways in the professional practice of philosophers could be made more sustainable? That might be worthwhile, but it also might not engage with ongoing research in the environmental sciences the way that the literature I’m referencing does.

Eugene Chislenko
Eugene Chislenko
5 years ago

Hello everyone! As one of the co-founders of Philosophers for Sustainability, I’d like to thank everyone who has gotten in touch with us so far. We’ve had an encouraging response from various corners of philosophy. In response to the previous comment: as described in the Daily Nous post, this is not a group on environmental philosophy or the philosophy of sustainability. It is not meant to compete with such groups, though we of course welcome contact and suggestions. This is a group for people in all areas of philosophy to work together to stop climate climate and ensure a sustainable future in practice, through various projects including advocacy and collecting and sharing resources and best practices, as well as other projects we may not have thought of yet. Our two upcoming forums are for the broader community of philosophers to offer input and think about some potential next steps. The Daily Nous post includes our email address, [email protected], and anyone who has further questions is welcome to email us directly. We’ve had some great conversations so far and are happy to discuss details. I look forward to seeing what we as philosophers will be able to do in practice.

5 years ago