The Department of Philosophy & the UGA Office of Service Learning are pleased to enroll PHIL 3900S “Philosophy for Children” for Fall 2022. In partnership with the Athens Regional Library System’s teen afterschool program, “Let’s Talk About That: Philosophy for Teens," UGA philosophy students work with local middle and high school students at the Athens-Clarke County Library engaging in critical thinking and discussion of a wide variety of topics touching upon art and music, beauty, evil, the mind, the meaning of happiness, what it means to be human, social media ethics, immortality, artificial intelligence, power, and truth.
“UGA students will draw from a diverse body of philosophical literature,” explains graduate teaching assistant Josué Piñeiro, who will be leading the class. “This course will take special care to bring into our philosophical conversation historically marginalized perspectives.”
ACC Library staff are especially excited to continue the program. “In Spring 2022, it was one of our most well-received programs and had the most consistent attendance,” explains Jen Schumann, Teen Services Regional Coordinator at the Library. “It was great. I think everyone was a little bit surprised—kids really want to talk and be heard,” she continues.
“UGA students get to explore, discuss, and philosophically engage with various interesting philosophical inquiries,” adds Piñeiro. “They also develop critical thinking skills through the service-learning component of the course and get the opportunity to lend their skills to provide a service to their community.”
“It's been incredible to watch the teens' uncertainty in early sessions blossom into what I would readily call college-level critical thinking and articulation—these are skills that don't always see a lot of development in high school,” says Elizabeth Hood, Teen Services Lead Assistant at the Library. “With ‘Let's Talk About That,’ we are able to use a fun extracurricular program to nurture the ability to engage in logical, measured discussion about powerful topics on which we don't always agree. I think everyone can agree that that's a necessary ability in today's society," continues Hood. "But the thing that makes this program really special is that the teens are excited to engage, pushing discussions over our time allotment, eager to find out next week's topic in advance."
Library staff report that teens liked the program so much they didn’t want it to end and UGA participants continued for two weeks beyond the projected end date, working with the kids and engaging in training with library staff on how to lead discussions. “It's been such a pleasure working with the UGA Philosophy Department, and amazing to see our teens grow within the program,” says Hood.