Report on the Libori Summer School 2019

“Depriving women of their history is like creating a person who has lost all memory. That person will be unable to construct an identity” - Ruth Hagengruber

How do we integrate women philosophers in the philosophical canon, change the history of philosophy permanently by doing so and put all this theoretical knowledge into practice? This year’s Libori Summer School aimed to find answers to these questions along with the international research network which has developed around its organizer: the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists and its director, Prof. Dr. Ruth Hagengruber.

Prof. Dr. Ruth Hagengruber

The Libori Summer School 2019 was opened on the 29th of July to an international audience of attendees and lecturers by the President of the Paderborn University, Professor Birgitt Riegraf, followed by speeches by Professor Dr. Gudrun Oevel (Chief Information Officer, Paderborn University), Prof. Dr. Ruth Hagengruber (Director of the Center HWPS) and Julia Mühl (Coordinator of the Center HWPS). The solemn closing event took place on the evening of the 2nd of August at the Deelenhaus in Paderborn.

Unique in Europe: the Center HWPS

The history of philosophers lasts as long as the history of philosophy. What would Plato be without Aspasia, Descartes without Teresa of Ávila, Kant without Émilie Du Châtelet (to whom the Center is especially dedicated by an own research project)? Only for about 30 years, these women have received more attention. For the first time in Europe, a specialized research center has been dedicated to the history of women philosophers and scientists in 2016: the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists, HWPS in short. In Paderborn, a tranquil town in north-western Germany, philosophical research beyond the mainstream is being pursued to fill gaps in the history of philosophy. Coordinated by Julia Mühl, our Center has developed the four research areas Women in the European Enlightenment, Women in Early Phenomenology, The St. Petersburg Manuscripts and Philosophy in the Digital Age. After two successful first Summer Schools which focused on the exchange of new research on women philosophers, the Libori Summer School 2019 (LiSuS in short) was dedicated to the practical implementation of research on these.

Libori Summer School 2019: Teaching Women Philosophers

In order to permanently change the lack of women philosophers in the history of philosophy, the new knowledge of these shall be integrated directly into teaching and passed on to future generations. Researchers and young scholars from all over the world shared their expertise in a supporting and inspirational environment. Due to the increasing demand, two sections were offered for the first time during the Libori Summer School 2019: one in English and one in German language. Many of our guests shared their impressions of the LiSuS and what researching women philosophers means to them in interviews, filmed during the LiSuS with a media team in our video booth.

Another highlight of the LiSuS was the third day’s evening event “Women philosophers in the canon?” –  a Panel discussion with Professor Dieter Birnbacher (Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf), who is a leading expert on ethics and practical philosophy in Germany. Together with Professor Hagengruber, Professor Sarah Hutton (University of York, UK), Professor Maria Nühlen (Merseburg University of Applied Sciences), and moderater Professor Sabrina Ebbersmeyer (University Copenhagen, DK), he discussed in what way women philosophers can and should be part of the syllabus with the interested audience.

(left to right) Prof. Dr. Ruth Hagengruber, Prof. Dr. Dieter Birnbacher and Prof. Dr. Sabrina Ebbersmeyer.


Closing Ceremony: Elizabeth of Bohemia Prize, Cooperations and the Future

“I beg all of you, to never stop asking the right questions” – these words were spoken by Professor em. Mary Ellen Waithe during the award ceremony of the Elisabeth of Bohemia Prize 2019. Being in Washington D.C., USA, Professor Waithe was awarded via Skype during the festive closing ceremony of the Libori Summer School 2019 at the Deelenhaus Paderborn. The prize was donated by Ulrike Detmers, professor for economy at the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences, and is named in honour of the philosopher Elisabeth of Bohemia. Since 2018, this prize is awarded in coordination with Professor Hagengruber to an internationally recognized philosopher for outstanding services to research on women in the history of philosophy. Professor Waithe has made an outstanding contribution to the history of women philosophers and scientists with her 4 volume booke series “A History of Women Philosophers”, (1987-1995) and is also known as the founder of this research field.

Professor em. Mary Ellen Waithe

Stefan Schwan, Head of the International Office of Paderborn University, was pleased to announce new cooperations of the Center HWPS. One of these is a cooperation with the Rio de Janeiro State University and involves an extension of the Encyclopedia of Concise Concepts by Women Philosophers (ECC) into a portuguese variant – the team around Dr. Katharina Peixoto has already translating about 50 articles. Further announced was the exchange of students and young scholars with the King’s College in Canada and the Bar Ilan University in Israel.

Ending the successful Libori Summer School 2019 we can conclude that there is much more to come regarding the history of women philosophers, especially with its research network growing constantly and internationally. To quote Professor Hutton during the closing remarks: “Teach and the word will spread!” – and so we will.

Photo (University of Paderborn, Ricarda Michels): Prof. Dr. Ruth Hagengruber (1st row, 4th from left) and Julia Mühl (2nd row, 1st from left) from the “Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientists” with the participants* of the Libori Summer School 2019.

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