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The APA—Setbacks and Responses

Monday, June 8, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Erin Shepherd
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You doubtless know that the 2020 Pacific Division meeting had to be canceled. The APA’s financial loss has been substantial. Registration refunds cost about $40,000, and far worse was the loss of about $100,000 in additional anticipated income. Other burdens imposed by the pandemic have landed on the staff and divisional officers, and worse may yet come. The association is seeking outside funding, but the relevant major sources are few in number and stretched in resources.

Every effort is being made to accommodate the papers that were scheduled for the canceled San Francisco meeting. The plan is to distribute them among the three 2021 meetings. The divisions are also welcoming, as normally, submissions for those meetings.

We hope the 2021 meetings can all be held in person as planned, but reduced attendance resulting from the pandemic will cause further financial losses, particularly given the APA’s commitment to support graduate students whose papers are accepted. For me, the 2020 Pacific Division papers enriching the programs makes attending even more attractive.

I know many philosophers have recently suffered financially, but a great many have retained their positions, and there is surely reason to expect economic improvement. The APA is continuing to support philosophers and philosophy programs wherever it can. This includes preparing for 2020-2021 programs, promoting APA members’ participation in public conversations, and offering webinars on timely topics. We hope to avoid interruption of services or publications, and the APA’s online capacities are being strengthened to facilitate online meetings and, if necessary, programming.

Membership renewals have never been so important for the association—particularly since its slim reserves will be threatened or even depleted if renewals drop. Please renew your membership. Losing renewals could raise the deficit to hundreds of thousands of dollars next year and require cuts to both staff and programs.

Some members receiving this may be able to donate to the association (as I have recently done and will continue to do). One way to combine renewal with a kind of donation is a life membership (now $3,500). Three-year renewals would also help with the crisis, and they allow you to lock in your dues rate for the next three years. Many members (myself included) have found life membership both an expression of long-term support and an annual convenience.

I close with this. The pandemic has set us back, but it has also brought out the best in many. Most of us care deeply about the long-term well-being of America and are cooperating with others in abiding by reasonable restrictions. The discipline of philosophy is a major element in American education—and in civilization itself. Philosophy supports social responsibility and human decency, and it teaches skills that no other field models or develops in the same ways. The APA is a mainstay of the profession, and philosophy has never been more needed in our fractured and changing world. I believe you well understand its connection with so much that is important. I hope you will do everything you can to support it in this time of urgent need.


Robert Audi
Chair, APA Development Committee

The American Philosophical Association
University of Delaware
31 Amstel Avenue, Newark, DE 19716
Phone: 302.831.1112 | Fax: 302.831.8690