A BRIEF HISTORY:
Phi Sigma Tau was founded at Muhlenberg College in 1930 as Alpha Kappa Alpha, with chapters at colleges in Maryland and Pennsylvania. It remained in this regional status until October of 1955, when it was incorporated as Phi Sigma Tau, a National Honor Society in Philosophy. Its essential purpose was and is to promote ties among philosophy departments in accredited institutions and students in philosophy nationally. Both on the local and national levels, Phi Sigma Tau considers its organization as instrumental: a means for developing and honoring academic excellence as well as philosophical interest. In addition to providing a means of awarding distinction to students having high scholarship and interest in philosophy, the Society also promotes interest in philosophy among the general collegiate public.
In 1955, Phi Sigma Tau included twelve chapters in Ohio, Tennessee, Maryland, Washington, D.C., New Mexico, California, and Louisiana. By 1958 ten additional chapters had been added, including those which had formerly constituted Alpha Kappa Alpha; and the date of the latter’s founding was taken as Phi Sigma Tau’s founding date. In 1958 the Society was admitted to full membership in the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS), and by 1969 its chapter network included 55 chapters in 32 states. The Society became international in 1991 with the installation of its first Canadian chapter; and, as of September, 2003, its chapter network includes 187 chapters.
The Society’s emblem is a pentagon with the letters Phi Sigma Tau at the center. Each of the angles contains a word representing one of the five streams of world thought: Chinese, Indian, Islamic, Hebrew, and Greek. The seal of the Society is the reverse side of the Athenian silver tetradrachma (B.C. 480-400), which bears the owl, olive spray, and small crescent. The margin of the seal carries the legend, Phi Sigma Tau, 1930.
The objects of the Society shall be: (1) to serve as a means of awarding distinction to students having high scholarship and personal interest in philosophy; (2) to promote student interest in research and advanced study in this field; (3) to provide opportunities for the publication of student research papers of merit; (4) to encourage a professional spirit and friendship among those who have displayed marked ability in this field; and (5) to popularize interest in philosophy among the general collegiate public.
The Society shall receive into its membership, irrespective of membership in or affiliation with other organizations, only those who attain its standards of high scholarship in philosophy and other subjects, and who give evidence of professional merit, proficiency, and distinction. Membership shall be conferred in strict accordance with the standards established by the Association of College Honor Societies. The sole basis of selection shall be the character and the scholastic or professional records of the candidate. Reception into membership shall be consummated without secret pledge or secret order training. For more information about the standards of this chapter click here.