Philopolis Guelph to take place on March 3rd

Monday, February 20, 2012

  • Photo Credit: Pascal Nycz, Photo-UQÀM

    Photo Credit: Pascal Nycz, Photo-UQÀM

            Though only sprouting up for the first time in Guelph in 2012, the Philopolis conference series has an interesting history, the seed having been originally planted and tended in Montreal. The series also has a commendable mandate. Philopolis, often compared to the TED conference series, actually picked up where another event left off, and that event was called La Nuit de la Philosophie. Literally “the night of philosophy,” La Nuit was a philosophy conference aimed at involving the public in philosophical discourse and ran for 24 consecutive hours—from 10:00 AM to 10:00 AM. The conference included multiple concurrent sessions, this great variety of events offering a flavour for every palate. The sweet and savoury buffet of ideas, held annually at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM), included almost 200 activities and attracted about 6 000 attendees in the year 2009, which would turn out to be its last. After that very successful showing, the organizing committee decided that they needed instead to focus on their doctoral studies, and consequently that the moon would nevermore shine on La Nuit.

            La Nuit had occupied an important place in the cultural and academic communities in Montreal for a number of years, and so news of its end travelled quickly, met at every turn with great disappointment. Some of its more enthusiastic fans offered to take up the discarded mantle and continue the series themselves, but the original organizers had grown attached their brainchild, and resisted having others pick up where they had left off. These enthusiasts would not be dissuaded though: La Nuit may have come to an end, but that merely set the stage for dawn to break on Philopolis.

            Philosophy students from the four universities of Montreal came together and a committee began organizing the first conference of the series, Philopolis Montreal 2010, which took place over the course of an early spring weekend, though not through the night as its predecessor had. The conference was entirely bilingual, treating the philosophical issues at the forefront of the Montreal consciousness such as cultural integration and a bilingual community, but also issues of less location-specific interest like the current state of the feminist movement. The first installment of Philopolis was a great success, offering 80 activities and attracting some 2 000 attendees, and Philopolis Montreal continues to be a highlight on the annual calendar of cultural events in the area.

            One of the beautiful things about Philopolis is that the simplicity and flexibility of its formula allow the event to be infused with the local flavour wherever it sets up shop, which it will do in Guelph for the first time on March 3rd, 2012. A dedicated group of graduate students, among them Brooke Struck who is one of the original organizers of the Philopolis series and now a doctoral student in philosophy at the University of Guelph, has been working tirelessly to put together an engaging and accessible selection of events. The activities on the schedule target subjects of specific interest in Guelph, such as the production and consumption of food and the social impacts of art, as well as some issues of more general interest, like questions about the roles of science and of philosophy in the community. Philopolis Guelph engages not only with the individuals that make up its local community, but also with organizations from the area such as the local chapters of Let’s Talk Science and of Musagetes.

            The mandate of Philopolis is simple: to engage the local philosophical community with the broader community of which it is a part. Philosophy has so much to share on issues of everyday life, and both sides have so much to gain from being put into contact. Philopolis Guelph offers a venue for such a discussion, and stresses the importance of finding an accessible, non-technical language in which to have it. In the name of accessibility, the event is absolutely free, requires no registration beforehand, and offers free lunch and refreshments to everyone in attendance. More information, including a complete schedule, can be found at <www.philopolis.net/guelph>.

Philopolis Guelph: a feast of philosophy. What are you bringing to the table?

Written by: Diana Karbonowska and David Brooke Struck

- Philopolis Guelph

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