Welcome to the online home of the Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA). There are many reasons why one might want to join SOPHIA. If you enjoy friendship and philosophical conversation, you should consider joining us. If you share some or all of our core values, you can join us in championing them. If you believe that our communities need richer, more civil, and more philosophical public discourse, SOPHIA welcomes you to our forums and efforts to pursue that aim. Beyond the big picture reasons, there are particular benefits to membership.
SOPHIA has recently (2016) begun creating chapters around the world, local communities of philosophical conversation. If you are near a group, then you can meet with them and participate to the level of your interest. If you don’t have a local group, you can participate in our national and international activities, such as via Web tools.
Visit other SOPHIA chapters and their meetings
In time, we hope that traveling SOPHIA members will consider their next travel destination as a place to meet up with a local chapter, once created. When groups are organizing events on topics that interest you, consider a trip. We also will be working on digital tools for participation from a distance.
Access & add to resources for SOPHIA groups and meetings
SOPHIA will be a resource for groups looking for the best tools to get community conversations started. We will share information and resources about what has worked well for us in the past. We also will invite all members to comment on that, to suggest topics that merit discussion, and to share their materials with other groups via our online forums.
Propose SOPHIA panels for professional gatherings
There are a number of academic conferences around the U.S. and around the world at which SOPHIA could potentially organize a panel. Such opportunities tend to attract the participation of people employed in higher education, especially given the need for travel support. Nevertheless, one view important to SOPHIA is that people from beyond the academy should be welcomed and encouraged to participate in such events. They would enrich the discussions at conferences and may greatly enjoy the experience. Travel is not always necessary, as conferences are held in different cities from year to year.
For a few examples, see the various divisional meetings of the American Philosophical Association and check out the Public Philosophy Network. Do note that we must plan 9-12 months in advance for such opportunities. Members who have ideas about what topics we should talk about or whom to invite for such panels are encouraged to contact the society’s officers.
Collaborate with other chapters and the national office in funding applications
Much of what SOPHIA does and aims to do can be undertaken very cheaply or affordably. Nevertheless, there are causes at times and opportunities for pursuing grant support to undertake big projects. SOPHIA has been awarded a number of grants from the American Philosophical Association and from state humanities councils. We may also apply to foundations for support or to the National Endowment for the Humanities. This is not the primary aim of SOPHIA, but it certainly can be an avenue for members to explore activities that might help advance the aims of the society. Collaborations can yield feedback on applications as well as the strength of multiple supporters backing a proposal. SOPHIA has limited financial resources, but may contribute in small financial ways in order to demonstrate organization support for pursuing local, national, or international grants.
Participate in institutes, summer programs, or national gatherings
SOPHIA’s activities will take several forms, some of which will involve events, such as symposia, institutes, summer programs, and national and potentially international gatherings. Our society is welcoming and will invite non-members to participate in our events. We will first consider our own membership for our events, however, and will encourage regular participants in our events to become members. To ease the burden, we have kept the membership dues modest, though people wishing to support SOPHIA beyond membership dues are invited to join as “Sustaining Members,” and to consider contributing to SOPHIA beyond such contributions, as interested and able.
Publish with SOPHIA & submit to the Public Philosophy Journal
In our efforts to build communities of philosophical conversation, we will continue to value written communication in addition to our in-person and online conversations. To that end, we will make use of this Web site as a blog for the society, perhaps creating series of discussion pieces and writings on our discussions, or individual members’ essays on public issues. We also anticipate recording podcasts and video recordings of our conversations. These we will post on our Web site and share widely. Scholars looking for traditional academic opportunities to publish, or to coauthor with other scholars or with interested other fellow SOPHIA members will be encouraged to do so via SOPHIA’s platforms and networks. Among these, for an excellent example, is the Public Philosophy Journal. The journal editors have invited SOPHIA to submit the papers from one of our panels. There may be further opportunities to publish with them and other outlets in connection with the society’s work. Finally, we may gather members’ oped drafts, and could possibly pitch a SOPHIA column to newspapers. Further ideas are welcome.
Call attention to or be recognized for excellence in public philosophy
SOPHIA aims to encourage civil, philosophical dialogue and community building. To that end, one activity of the society will be to recognize excellence in social engagement with philosophy, or in professional philosophers’ public engagement. In the public sphere, we can thereby call attention to behavior that we wish to promote. We can also help scholars to with statements about the public value of philosophical engagement beyond the academy, as well as recognition that we may confer upon exemplary role models for others to follow. We may in that way offer a mechanism for valuing work that tends to be ignored, underappreciated, or poorly measured in institutions of higher education. Members can help us in proposing ideas for new forms of recognition, candidates for honors, and more. We will also naturally recognize our own members most easily, given their participation in the society and the attention to their work that it brings.
Regular membership – $25 per year
All are welcome to join as regular members. You do not need to have a background in philosophy. Groups and meetings will generally include one or many professional philosophers, but SOPHIA is for everyone.
Student membership – $10 per year
We welcome students of all levels to join and participate in SOPHIA. There are exciting philosophy programs in various levels of public schools and colleges. Students are encouraged to join at our discounted rate. Students are not limited to joining at this level, however.
Sustaining membership – $250 per year
As regular membership is priced at $25, sustaining members can claim a donation to SOPHIA each year that they pay dues for $225. SOPHIA is an incorporated nonprofit and our membership system will generate receipts for your dues payments. Of course, those interested in supporting SOPHIA are not limited to donations of $225, but the Sustaining Membership level permits SOPHIA leadership and members to recognize such members’ support for the organization and its work.
Note about membership: While joining SOPHIA is open to all, SOPHIA’s charter includes provisions reserving the right of SOPHIA to relinquish the membership of any members whom the Board of Trustees believes to be working against the society’s mission. As of 2016, no memberships have ever been revoked, however, and we hope our record continues indefinitely.
Visit our Membership Levels page to join SOPHIA.