University appoints first ever UK Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy

As part of its continuing commitment to public engagement, the University of Sheffield is appointing Dr Angie Hobbs as Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy – the first time a Chair in the Public Understanding of Philosophy has been established in the UK.

Welcoming Dr Hobbs' appointment, Vice-Chancellor Professor Keith Burnett said: "This appointment reflects our belief that the thinking which takes place in universities can and should reach out beyond the academic realm and make a difference in the wider world. This is as true of philosophy as it is of research in medicine or engineering. In fact, on many levels our society has a profound need for the kind of deep thinking about how we live which is found in philosophical discourse."

Dr Hobbs who is an international authority on Ancient Greek Philosophy already has a strong public presence in the media, and has appeared on programmes ranging from the Today Programme to Woman's Hour.

Angie Hobbs' contribution to public engagement was endorsed by Melvyn Bragg, who commented: "Angie Hobbs has been on In Our Time (BBC) more than any other contributor since it began 14 years ago! Her ability to explain philosophy is remarkable. She can explain it to the lay person both succinctly and comprehensively while never letting go of the complexity and weight of the issue involved. It's a quite extraordinary gift."

Dr Hobbs joins the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield which has a strong track record both for internationally-respected academic quality combined with public engagement and social responsibility.

Professor Jenny Saul, Head of the Department of Philosophy and winner of the Distinguished Woman Philosopher Award commented: "We are delighted to be welcoming Angie Hobbs to our department. Philosophical ideas can be a powerful force for good, and Angie helps take that thinking to the wider public. This appointment fits perfectly with our long-standing commitment to public engagement, through programmes such as 'Philosophy in the City'- an outreach programme involving over 100 student volunteers which takes philosophy and academic support to local primary and secondary schools."

Angie Hobbs is currently an Associate Professor in Philosophy and at the University of Warwick, where she has built a reputation for not only taking philosophical ideas to the public through lectures, articles, TV and radio appearances and social media, but also helping to develop educational policy relating to Philosophy in schools. An example of this is her role as Honourary Patron of the Philosophy Foundation, a unique educational charity whose aim is to bring philosophy to schools and the wider community.

Angie will be appearing at the Hay on Wye Philosophy Festival, Where the Light Gets In this summer. She begins her role in Sheffield in September, when she will be part of the University of Sheffield 'Festival of the Mind', a 10 day celebration of ideas and creativity designed to engage the public in exciting and challenging thinking.

Notes for Editors: Philosophy in Sheffield – The Department of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield is ranked in the top four in the UK for research with 93 per cent of students saying that they are happy with the course.

'Philosophy in the City' - Philosophy in the City ("PinC") is a student-led project at the University of Sheffield which aims to share with local young people the power of critical thinking. Now in its fifth year, PinC has developed into a large scale outreach project with over a hundred volunteers working on a sustained basis in eight local schools and a homeless refuge. PinC also organises short-term events and holds an annual Philosophise conference in June. This free conference is open to any local school children aged 15 upwards. To find out more visit: PinC

The Festival of the Mind will run in Sheffield from 20 September 2012. This collaborative Festival celebrating ideas and innovation will include numerous public events both at the University and within the city centre designed to bring challenging and fascinating ideas to a wider public in an exciting and accessible way.




For further information please contact: Amy Stone, Media Relations Officer, on 0114 2221046 or email a.f.stone@sheffield.ac.uk