The Intellectual Virtues and Education Project was a three-year project sponsored by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation and housed at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles from 2012-2015. Directed by Jason Baehr, Professor of Philosophy at LMU, the project was devoted to developing and applying the first systematic formulation of an “intellectual virtues educational model.”
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 was devoted to applying and implementing this material in an educational context.
The project consisted primarily of the following six elements:
1. 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 the nature and structure of intellectual character virtues, the place of intellectual character formation within the proper aims and goals of education, and how best to foster intellectual character virtues in an educational setting. Participants included Heather Battaly, Melinda Bier, Karen Bohlin, Catherine Elgin, Steve Porter, Wayne Riggs, Ron Ritchhart, Emily Robertson, Stephen Sherblom, and Harvey Siegel.
2. 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. Plenary speakers were Shari Tishman, Marvin Berkowitz, Harvey Siegel, and Linda Zagzebski. Other invited speakers included Heather Battaly, Karen Bohlin, David Carr, Randall Curren, Catherine Elgin, Hugh Sockett, Wayne Riggs, and Emily Robertson. A video of the conference introduction by Jason Baehr is available here.
3. Edited Volume: Project Director Jason Baehr edited a collection of several essays from leading philosophers of education and virtue epistemologists titled Intellectual Virtues and Education: Essays in Applied Virtue Epistemology (Routledge 2016). The essays address such questions as: Which intellectual virtues are most important to educational theory or practice? How is growth in intellectual virtues related to other educational aims (e.g. critical thinking)? What practices or interventions can teachers use to foster their students’ growth in intellectual virtues?
4. Resource Guide: Drawing on research in philosophy, psychology, and education, Baehr wrote a systematic guide for implementing an intellectual virtues model in an educational setting. This 562-page, 34-chapter guide, Cultivating Good Minds: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Educating for Intellectual Virtues is now available for download.
5. Pedagogy Seminars: a cohort of 15 local primary and secondary teachers and administrators met for a two-year series of one-day and weeklong workshops aimed at familiarizing participants with an intellectual virtues approach to education and providing them with well-supported opportunities to begin implementing this approach. The group met together for over 100 hours during the two-year period. A video of some of the participants is here.
6. Resource Website: the final project activity is the Educating for Intellectual Virtues website, which was designed to provide teachers, administrators, and scholars with an opportunity to learn more about an intellectual virtues approach to education.
The Intellectual Virtues and Education Project was 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 resource guide, pedagogy seminars, and resource website.
An video introduction to the project is here: