Sanders Foundation Names 44 Philosophy in Media Fellows


The Marc Sanders Foundation has announced the names of forty-four philosophers selected to take part in its Philosophy in Media fellowship program this summer.

The program “aims to identify and develop academically-trained philosophers to write, speak to, and produce for the general public in the major media market spaces.” Each of the fellows will attend one of the workshops, on either longform magazine writing, op-eds and trade books, or podcasting.

The program is directed by Barry Lam, Professor of Philosophy at UC Riverside, associate director of the Sanders Foundation, and creator and host of the podcast, Hi-Phi Nation. Others involved in leading the workshop include:

  • Joshua Rothman, Ideas Editor at The New Yorker
  • Larissa Macfarquhur, Staff Writer, The New Yorker
  • Emily Greenhouse, Editor, The New York Review of Books
  • Latif Nasser, Host, WNYC’s Radiolab
  • Mia Lobel, Former head of content at Pushkin Industries and Executive Producer of Revisionist History
  • Christy Mirabal, Senior Director, Audience Growth at SiriusXM
  • James Ryerson, Opinion Editor at The New York Times
  • Margo Beth Fleming, Managing Director of Brockman, Inc.
  • Kieran Setiya, Professor of Philosophy at MIT
  • Emily Wunderlich, Senior Editor at  Viking

Fellows receive a $3000 stipend and housing at Tarrytown House Estate, where the workshops are being conducted.

More information about the program is here.

 

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Why am I surprised?
Why am I surprised?
19 days ago

I couldn’t help but notice that despite the initial announcement’s claims to give special consideration to those at HBCUs, tribal colleges, hispanic serving institutions and underresourced state schools none of the successful fellows are from HBCUs, tribal colleges, or state schools that are by any reasonable definition of the term underresourced or underserved. I think four are from hispanic serving institutions, but even this metric needs to be put in context. Compare that to the fact that 7 are from Princeton alone. Anyway, this is not to cast aspersions on the successful fellows who I’m sure are doing excellent and interesting work. I know that for any fellowship like this there are at least 4 wildly qualified applicants for any spot. But it’s pretty clear that a metric that the application claimed would have some weight actually didn’t or had so vanishingly little that it made no difference in the selection process. I mean I also get that they can use whatever selection criteria they want. If they want to pick all the candidates from Princeton next year they’re not violating anyone’s rights. And of course they could I imagine find 40+ great candidates at Princeton alone. But in the future they should be honest about what criteria they’re using. More than a few of us who teach at colleges that fall under one or more of those categories will look at this list and realize that we simply aren’t competitive for these fellowships and so won’t waste time applying in the future.

Barry Lam
Reply to  Why am I surprised?
19 days ago

We received 277 applications for about 45 slots. There are dedicated slots for Princeton-affiliated applicants as part of the agreement with Princeton for their generous funding. There are dedicated slots for HBCU, Tribal College, Hispanic-serving institutions or affiliates from under-served schools as part of the agreement with Mellon for their generous funding. Similarly there were dedicated slots for people working on the ethics of the sciences for the Sloan foundation. Affiliated does not mean they have to currently be teaching at the institution, they may be alums. None of this would be possible without the funding from these organizations. As for whether you will be wasting your time applying in the future…probably. In my experience trying to get this program funded for 5 years, all applications for all fellowships require a lot of time for a very low-probability of success. This is why we requested only a CV and a cover letter. If that is too much work for about a 16% chance, it is better that you not apply in the future, as the rejection rate for media pitches out in the broader landscape is far far higher.

Why am I surprised?
Why am I surprised?
Reply to  Barry Lam
19 days ago

Whatever links applicants had with the colleges that are supposed to receive preference, I would hope that we can agree that it looks bad that zero of the fellows currently teach at HBCUs, tribal colleges, or underresourced schools. I’m a profoundly cynical person, but I honestly expected to see at least one person from say Howard or Morehouse on the list as well as one random person at a tribal college. That would have almost certainly killed two birds with one stone since most of those are underresourced by any definition of that term. It’s equally telling that you’re falling back on a definition of these terms that manages to be both legalistic and incredibly vague. I read “affiliated with” as “employed by” or “studying at.” When I was 16 I took a dual enrollment course that was technically offered through the desperately underfunded local community college. Does that mean I can claim to be affiliated with an underresourced school? Quite a few of my inlaws went to HBCUs, is that enough to claim affiliation? Irony aside it would help to spell out those criteria in the application.

In the same vein, this is the first I’m hearing of fact that some, I assume 7 or 15%, of the spots were reserved for Princeton folks. If I just didn’t read the original announcement closely enough then I apologize. I would suggest that, “We invite applications for the 37 free spots not reserved for those affiliated with Princeton…” or something like that in the future.

Anyway, as I said you’re free to choose whoever you want within your contractual obligations. But let’s not pretend that this has any sort of social justice function or that there’s any aim here to give a voice to people who don’t have one in the profession. Instead it’s another thing in academia that operates according to principle of “to he who has more will be given.” It’s not the though of wasting a couple hours on an application for a fellowship I’ve no chance at that bothers me honestly. It’s that as cynical as I think I am I can still be unpleasantly surprised.

Matthew J Brown
Reply to  Why am I surprised?
19 days ago

Surprised: Not knowing in any detail what the pool of applicants really looks like, you’re engaged in a lot of unfounded speculation in order to just be unpleasant. Who is this helping?

BCB
BCB
Reply to  Why am I surprised?
19 days ago

“But let’s not pretend that this has any sort of social justice function or that there’s any aim here to give a voice to people who don’t have one in the profession.”
Since this is couched as a complaint, the implicit claim here seems to be that the fellowships should be distributed with the aim of addressing inequities in the profession, rather than just producing excellent public philosophy. However, that claim does not seem obvious to me.

Edward Haven
Edward Haven
Reply to  Why am I surprised?
18 days ago

I share your concerns, and by the thumbs up, many of us do. We know we need to be more inclusive as a community, but academic philosophy struggles to make the institutional changes necessary for a more inclusive and diverse space.

I am completing a sabbatical project investigating academic philosophy’s inability to accommodate under-represented voices. I would be honored if you would share your insights with me. Would you be willing to do an interview? If so, please email me at [email protected]

Noah
Noah
Reply to  Why am I surprised?
17 days ago

I also find it to be highly misleading that Barry Lam construes “affiliated” as including alumni. Being “affiliated” with a school has a highly specific meaning in the professional academic context, which includes faculty and students but does not include alumni. Anyone writing within this context should expect that the phrase “affiliates from under-served schools” would not be read to include alumni.

Maureen Eckert
Maureen Eckert
Reply to  Why am I surprised?
19 days ago

Hi there. UMASS Dartmouth is not the “other” Dartmouth. We are on the south coast of MA, and serve predominantly first generation students and are most certainly underfunded and under resourced I don’t know what criteria you have about state funding so as to imagine us as more than struggling to survive.

Eugene
Eugene
Reply to  Maureen Eckert
18 days ago

“ In the same vein, this is the first I’m hearing of fact that some, I assume 7 or 15%, of the spots were reserved for Princeton folks. If I just didn’t read the original announcement closely enough then I apologize. I would suggest that, “We invite applications for the 37 free spots not reserved for those affiliated with Princeton…” or something like that in the future.”

First time for me as well. Not sure I would have applied had I been made aware, not because of the odds, but because I wouldn’t want to be affiliated with (wink) adding more lines to Princeton CVs.

Minh Nguyen
18 days ago

A recently named 2024 Marc Sanders Media Fellow wrote on FB that he’s “so grateful to Barry Lam for not only producing great public philosophy but also creating the social infrastructure to help others do so as well.” I couldn’t agree with him more. In my interaction with Barry, I find him to be quite responsive, courteous, and reasonable. I’d like, therefore, to make a friendly suggestion to him. Compare the following opportunities:
·      2024 Philosophy in Media Fellowship (3 days): “Media Fellows will receive workshop training at Tarrytown Estates, NY, lodging and meals at the workshops, connections to industry professionals, and a $3,000 honorarium.”·      2024 NEH Summer Institute in Native American, Indigenous, and Land-Based Social and Political Philosophy (1 week): “Every participant will be provided with a $1,300 stipend (taxable as income) after the end of the program to help cover travel, lodging, and meals. Single rooms in Northeastern housing will be available at a discounted price. There is no registration fee.”·      2024 NEH Summer Institute in Moral Psychology (4 weeks): “Individuals selected to participate in this four-week Institute will, should they elect to participate, receive a stipend of $3,450. Stipends are intended to help cover travel expenses to and from the project location, books and other research expenses, and living expenses for the period spent in residence.”
In light of the above, the $3,000 honorarium for each of the 44 Philosophy in Media Fellows is quite generous—congratulations to them all! If Barry and his team want to expand access to their sponsored workshops for philosophers from underserved/under-resourced institutions such as HBCUs, HSIs, tribal colleges, community colleges, and regional comprehensive public universities, which he seemed to want to do in his call for applications and the companion video, then a solution presents itself: Reduce the honorarium from $3,000 to $1,500 – $2,000 (they will save $44,000 – $ 66,000) and intentionally dedicate a number of slots for qualified people from such institutions. (Full disclosure: I have been working at two regional comprehensive public universities the last 21 years. I applied for this opportunity twice, but did not get it.)