Libraries and Harwood collaborate on Socrates Cafe

Christopher Phillips, internationally known philosopher and author of bestseller Socrates Café: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy, and The Philosophy of Childing: Unlocking Creativity, Curiosity and Reason through the Wisdom of our Youngest, will be at Harwood Union High School on Monday, November 13, as part of Harwood’s popular Socrates Cafe program. The cafe takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. and the public is welcome.

Phillips has been a Network Fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and was a 2012 recipient of the Distinguished American Leadership Award. He is the founder of Democracy Cafe and a recent Senior Education Fellow at the National Constitution Center, as well as senior writing and research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.

Rowland Fellow and philosophy and Three Democracies teacher at Harwood, Katherine Cadwell, began these Socratic dialogues at Harwood seven years ago. Since then, trained student facilitators have led multiple discussions of “timeless and timely” questions, in well-attended events that have transformed teaching and learning at the school. The Socrates Cafes are based on ideas in Phillips’ first book, Socrates Café, most importantly the idea that people learn more when they question. Socrates observed that “wisdom begins in wonder.” A primary goal of Dr. Phillips and the cafes are to inspire curiosity and wonder, to nurture self-discovery, openness and empathy. In that spirit, these gatherings welcome all members of the community, regardless of age, experience or background.


In 2017, Harwood’s Socrates Cafe program expanded beyond the school walls. The Joslin Memorial Library hosted the first school-community partnership in January with the question “Why are we so afraid of people who are different?” Last spring the Waterbury Public Library hosted the second, with the question “Does privacy matter in our country today?”

This time both the Joslin Memorial Library and the Waterbury Public Library join forces with Harwood Union with the question “How do we balance freedom and security in our country today?”

Phillips will kick off the evening and folks will break off into small groups where Harwood students who are experienced in leading Socratic dialogues will facilitate the discussions. The event will take place in the Harwood library beginning at 6 p.m. After small group discussions, the groups will reconvene to debrief and summarize. Refreshments will be offered at the end of the evening at 8 p.m.

For more information contact Cadwell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Joy Worland, Joslin Memorial Library, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or Judi Byron, Waterbury Public Library, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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