The Intellectual Virtues and Education Project is a three-year project sponsored by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation and housed at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. It is devoted to developing and applying the first systematic formulation of an “intellectual virtues educational model,” which is a model that focuses on fostering intellectual character virtues like curiosity, wonder, intellectual carefulness, intellectual thoroughness, open-mindedness, intellectual humility, and intellectual rigor.
While the idea of “character education” is not new in educational theory, most character education models and programs have tended to focus on fostering moral or civic virtues rather than intellectual virtues. However, with the recent advent of “virtue epistemology” in mainstream philosophy, robust theories of intellectual virtue are now available. The Intellectual Virtues and Education Project is devoted to applying and implementing this material in an educational context.
The project consists primarily of the following six elements:
- Academic Workshop: a weeklong workshop in July of 2012 that brought together top scholars in virtue epistemology, philosophy of education, and educational theory and psychology to read about, reflect on, and discuss: (a) the nature and structure of intellectual character virtues; (b) the place of intellectual character formation within the proper aims and goals of education; and (c) how best to foster intellectual character virtues in an educational setting.
- Academic Conference: a two-day academic conference in June of 2013 on intellectual virtues and education that drew scholars and teachers from across philosophy, philosophy of education, and educational theory and psychology.
- Edited Volume: Project Director Jason Baehr will edit a volume of essays, some from the academic conference described above, on intellectual virtues and education. The volume will give special attention to (a) the importance of intellectual character formation vis-à-vis the proper aims and goals of education and (b) methods for fostering intellectual character virtues in an educational context.
- Implementation Guide: Baehr, in consultation with Ron Ritchhart from Harvard University’s Project Zero, is developing a systematic guide for implementing an intellectual virtues educational model in an educational context. When complete, the guide will provide a practical and detailed account of how to promote intellectual character development across a wide range of educational dimensions, including curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment.
- Pedagogy Seminars: a series of one-day and weeklong workshops aimed at training 15 local primary and secondary teachers and administrators in an intellectual virtues approach to education. Seminar participants are experimenting with and providing feedback on parts of the Implementation Guide described above.
- Intellectual Virtues and Education Resource Page: an online repository for teachers, administrators, and scholars interested in learning more about an intellectual virtues approach to education. This site will go live in the summer of 2014. When complete, the Implementation Guide will be available for download from this site.
The Intellectual Virtues and Education Project is closely tied to another exciting educational initiative also sponsored by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The Intellectual Virtues Academy of Long Beach (IVA) is a grades 6-8 public charter school in Long Beach, CA, that opened in the fall of 2013. IVA’s distinctive focus is educating for intellectual virtues. The school is implementing and benefiting from an array of resources produced by the Intellectual Virtues and Education Project, including the Implementation Guide, Pedagogy Seminars, Intellectual Virtues and Education Resource Page described above.