Can Precollege Philosophy Help Academic Philosophy’s Diversity Problem? Reflecting on What Diverse Philosophers Say about Early Exposure to Philosophy

Jones, Nic R., Debi Talukdar, and Sara Goering. 2022. “Can Pre-College Philosophy Help Academic Philosophy’s Diversity Problem?: Reflecting on What Diverse Philosophers Say about Early Exposure to Philosophy.” Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice 4: 5-31.

There is a significant lack of diversity in philosophy, including an underrepresentation of women and people of color, and a dearth of philosophy programs that offer classes exploring philosophy outside the Western canon. This problem is further compounded by institutional racism, sexism, and ableism within philosophy pedagogy and practice and the perception that philosophy is an abstract subject suitable only for academically advanced students. If philosophy were made more accessible to a diverse group of students before they entered college, would it be possible to recruit more individuals from underrepresented groups into the field? In 2018, PLATO and the APA surveyed their members about their first exposure to philosophy. It was clear that early experiences—conversations with friends and family, books in grade school, and classes in high school—were pivotal moments that generated interest in philosophy. In this paper we describe some of these experiences and suggest that P4C programs, if done well, have the potential to help build a robust and inclusive K–12 to college philosophy pipeline by tapping into the natural interest children have in philosophical wondering.