2013 Summer Fellowship
The 2013 Summer Fellowship will take place in Washington, DC, from June 16 to July 27. The six-week curriculum will have three parts:
First, master-teacher led seminars on seminal texts of political and social thought such as Aristotle's Politics, Plato's Republic, Machiavelli's The Prince, and The Federalist Papers.
Second, focused study of major public policy questions. Guided by outstanding policy analysts, students will carefully examine one of three current issues and participate in an extended discussion of all three.
And third, a series of conversations with distinguished speakers drawn from the worlds of government, academia, politics, the military, journalism, and business, and representing a wide spectrum of political and social views.
Students should expect to study and think about politics and public policy with uncommon rigor and breadth.
Week One: Machiavelli
Machiavelli is one of the most profound and challenging political thinkers. He cannot be understood merely by extracting generalizations; one has to pay attention to particular characters, incidents, and key terms. In particular, we explore the following themes and terms: founding, corruption, renewal; fortune v. virtue; ordinary v. extraordinary; appearance v. truth; nature; necessity; acquisition; glory; and prudence. We read the entirety of The Prince along with excerpts from his Discourses on Livy that cast light on the chapters with which they are paired.
Week Two: Aristotle
Mindful of Machiavelli's charge that "it is so far from how one lives to how one should live that he who lets go of what is done for what should be done learns his ruin rather than his preservation," we turn to Aristotle, a teacher of what should be done. We focus especially on the relation between virtue and happiness, and virtue and politics. We devote most of the week to the Ethics and its study of the human good before following this study into the Politics, particularly its discussion of the kind and quality of regimes.
Week Three: American Political Thought I
In the third week of the program, we engage the ideas of modern liberal democracy, exploring how the American system has sought to balance the deepest themes of ancient political thought against the imperatives of individual freedom and economic progress that are so central to modern liberal thought. We examine the relative importance of nature, reason, religion, and tradition in forming the core of the American political ethos, and search for the philosophical roots of the differences between conservatism and liberalism in the contemporary world. We explore how the American system established at the founding has been recast through a series of conflicts and debates during the Civil War, the New Deal and continuing into the modern period. Many of these conflicts and tensions remain active and vital points of political debate today.
Week Four: American Political Thought II
Diving still deeper into American political thought, we recall an assembly of demigods, an Old World prophet, and a martyr who belongs to the ages. In the first of three weeks of electives, we offer three different options: an evaluation of the Constitutional Convention's work through a close reading of The Federalist Papers and the writings of Anti-Federalists; an examination of American mores through a study of Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America; or an inquiry into American essence through reflection on Abraham Lincoln's speeches and writings. This week includes a trip to the Gettysburg battlefield.
Week Five: Public Policy
Drawing on four weeks of theoretical class work and the practical insights of our guest speakers, in the fifth week we turn to applying ideas to policymaking. One section develops an understanding of democratic capitalism and its application to economic policy. A second section explores the challenge that the Iranian nuclear program poses to the United States. A final section critiques the "neoconservative" school of political thought, examining its approach to four different areas of domestic policy.
Week Six: Beneath and Beyond the Polis
In the program’s final week, we look at the forces beneath and beyond politics that shape the polis, its purpose and its perpetuity. As in the preceding two weeks, our three sections pursue three different courses of study. One group explores literature’s capacity, in the hands of a master, to frame politics, in this case Shakespeare’s depiction of eternal Rome. A second group lays bare the assumptions of the modern scientific worldview and asks whether the project initiated by Francis Bacon is importantly flawed or not. The final group maintains a steady focus on America, but widens the field of vision from policy to those forces that may demand a farewell to greatness in the 21st century.