On Wednesday, May 25, at 2:00 p.m. ET, for ASTC on Air featured Robert Frodeman, field philosopher and professor of philosophy at the University of North Texas. Field philosophy emphasizes working with scientists, engineers, and policymakers rather than pursuing an extensive focus on writing and working with other philosophers. Frodeman works in the areas of environmental ethics and environmental philosophy, the philosophy of geology, and the philosophy of science policy. Throughout his work, Frodeman emphasizes the role that philosophy can play in addressing ongoing societal issues such as acid mine drainage, global climate change, and Hurricane Katrina. His most recent work focuses on the theory and practice of interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge. Read more about his work at Philosophy Impact.
The episode explored the part of Frodeman’s work based on his growing conviction that the institutionalization of philosophy made it into a discipline that could be seriously pursued only in an academic setting. To him, this fact represents one of the enduring failures of contemporary philosophy. He believes the future of philosophy does not reside in academia but rather in connection with the realities of society. This is important for science centers because a similar trend exists among scientists that believe their work should be key to science-related decisions and policy. Environmental scientists and many others have been extremely vocal about this, in particular in preparation of the Rio+20 Conference in 2012. However, looking to the work of Frodeman, it appears that this issue cannot be left to scientists alone; there need to be ethical and societal reflections on actions to be taken. Science centers may find that including field philosophy approaches will help them discover new ways to actively engage their audiences in global issues.