Philosophy in Media Initiative

Directed by Barry Lam, Associate Director of Marc Sanders Foundation, and Associate Professor of Philosophy, Vassar College and Host and Executive Producer of Hi-Phi Nation podcast. Philosophy in Media is aimed at bringing high-quality philosophy to the general public.

MSF Media Fellowship

The Marc Sanders Foundation’s Philosophy in Media initiative, funded jointly with the John T. Templeton Foundation. The initiative aims to increase the presence of philosophy in print, audio, and video media by training philosophers to write and produce for the public and by connecting philosophers to editors and commissioners in the media industry.

In the spring of 2022, we ran three workshops for philosophers committed to public philosophy:

  • Podcasting: led by Alix Spiegel (This American LifeInvisibilia, NPR), Alison MacAdam (NPR, All Things Considered, WNYC Studios), and Barry Lam (Hi-Phi Nation, Slate)
  • Op-Ed Writing: led by James Ryerson, New York Times
  • Longform Magazine Writing: led by Joshua Rothman (The New Yorker), with Ismail Muhammad (NYT Magazine), Ross Andersen (The Atlantic), and Larissa MacFarquhar (The New Yorker).

Our 2021-22 Media Fellows were selected from a pool of 264 people applicants through a selection committee consisting of academic philosophers and media industry professionals. Media Fellows received workshop training, connections to industry professionals, and a $1500 honorarium.

To learn about our fellows, visit the announcement page HERE.

Pitching Workshops

The aim of our pitching workshops is to help philosophers craft and refine their pitches with the aim of sharing high-quality work with a public audience.

  • Pitching Radiolab
    In this two-hour workshop, Nasser and Bressler fielded several pitches from philosophers whose research interests ranged widely from trust in the police institution and Bohmian mechanics to consciousness and morality in AI and the importance (or non-importance) of experiencing boredom. Selected participants were invited to give their two-minute pitches to a live audience of around 80 attendees. Nasser and Bressler offered unique insight and feedback into what worked especially well about each pitch, and what would be useful to consider for Radiolab‘s listeners and for a public audience.
  • Pitching Noema
    In this event designed for philosophers aspiring to be public philosophers, participants heard from editors of a leading philosophical magazine about how to craft and hone a pitch. Attendees at this workshop learned how to get public philosophy pieces published with an extra opportunity, for those interested! The Vice President, Nils Gilman, and Executive Editor, Kathleen Miles of Noema Magazine heard and gave feedback on magazine pitches.
  • Pitching the Point
    In this hour and a half seminar, Jon and Jonny went over general tips on how to write public philosophy and gave advice about how to write for The Point in particular. They also took questions and, most importantly, pitches. One of the most useful things for a beginner to learn is what a pitch to an editor looks like, and how an editor thinks through pitches to accept or reject. So even if participants didn’t have an article planned, coming up with a pitch was a great first interaction.

Panel Discussions

The goal of our panel discussions is to bring stimulating philosophical issues to the public through the work of some of the best scholars on the topics. View the videos below.

  • Individual Character and Structural Injustice
    We live in a time when structural injustices and systemic problems abound, in public health, race relations, gender relations, and more. Policymakers and activists propose structural solutions targeting systems as a whole, like a sugar tax, liability insurance for police, school desegregation, or paid family leave. Policy solutions seldom include suggestions that moral and psychological traits of individuals are at fault or should be the focus of change, like moral education, empathy cultivation, or prejudice and bias reduction. Is there a role for interventions targeting individual moral character or psychology to address at least some of the “structural” problems that we face? With Sally Haslanger, Jorge LA Garcia, Alex Madva, and Nancy Snow.

  • Our Duty to the Past and Our Past Selves
    It is taken for granted that we should often act in the best interest of our future selves, and even on behalf of future generations, but when should we act for the sake of past people, and even our own past interests? In a range of cases we find ourselves bound by our past decisions, or by the past decisions of people who have come before us. When is it okay to break from those bounds, and when are we required to abide by the decisions of the past, even when they conflict with our interests now? Our distinguished panelists will discuss cases of advanced medical directives, duties to vindicate the sacrifices of past generations, and duties to history. With Rebecca Dresser, Tania Gergel, Saul Smilanski, and SJ Beard.

Support Philosophy in Media

To make a gift contribution in support of Philosophy in Media, please visit our Contribute Page by clicking the button below and selecting “Philosophy in Media” from the drop-down menu.

Contact Us

The Marc Sanders Foundation would be happy to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us (e-mail is preferred) about any questions you might have.


Barry Lam

Copyright 2019 Marc Sanders Foundation