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PEWS Associate Director Melissa Jacquart wins Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship

We are very excited to share that PEWS Associate Director Melissa Jacquart has been awarded a Whiting Public Engagement Fellowship, which celebrates and supports faculty in the humanities who embrace public engagement as part of the scholarly vocation. Each Fellow receives $50,000 to pursue a public-facing project.

The Whiting Public Engagement Program (WPEP) is a distinctive national grant founded to champion the public humanities in all forms, and to highlight the roles scholars play in collaborative work to deploy the humanities for the public good. Since it began in 2016, the WPEP has given $2.7 million to launch and expand projects in the US and beyond. Winners are selected through a highly competitive process beginning with nomination by a university or humanities nonprofit and proceeding through two further stages of peer review by expert public humanists.

Partnering with the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative

Melissa Jacquart‘s Bringing Philosophy to Science Fairs project will pilot an after-school Philosophy & Science Fair Club for 7th and 8th-grade students in Cincinnati. Jacquart will partner with the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative to create lesson plans designed to introduce students to the philosophical and other humanistic aspects of science by identifying a theme, such as space exploration or climate change, and then deploying philosophical methods of inquiry to deeply investigate it. For example, students may consider how scientists’ intellectual context and world views impact the scientific method and process of discovery, or the role trust plays in the public’s understanding of scientific findings. Over the course of fifteen weeks, students will develop individual projects related to the shared theme and informed by philosophical discussion. The club will culminate with each student entering their project in the Southwest Ohio Science and Engineering Expo Science Fair, one of the nation’s largest student science fairs.

Melissa Jarquart, Associate Director of PEWS

The Whiting Fellowship judges were drawn to the way this project bridges the humanities and the sciences and saw great potential to spark dialogue across fields too often understood as polar opposites. They saw this project as one that teaches children cross-disciplinary inquiry skills that are indispensable to civic literacy and described it as representing an important avenue for demonstrating the ways that the humanities are essential. Without the humanities, they observed, we can’t fully understand why science matters. The judges were also impressed by the thoughtful plans to expand the project after the Fellowship year by translating lesson plans into an easily reproducible model and hosting a series of events to teach fellow philosophers from a variety of backgrounds how to lead Philosophy & Science Fair Clubs in the future. Given the robust networks of advocates and practitioners of Philosophy in the Schools, this innovative project seems poised to find enthusiastic adopters.

Please complete this form for updates and information on Melissa Jacquart’s “Philosophy & Science Fairs” project with the University of Cincinnati Center for Public Engagement with Science! This includes information on the future (2023/2024) workshop on how to deploy the model developed in this project in your own local context.

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