Hertog Political Studies ProgramJune 22, 2014 – August 2, 2014 Stipend: $3,000, plus room and board
Applications now closed
The Hertog Political Studies Program offers exceptional students a unique learning experience focused on the serious study of politics. Students will read fundamental texts in political thought with outstanding faculty from institutions throughout the country. They will closely examine political leadership with prominent men and women who shape American public policy. Students should expect to study and think about politics and public policy with uncommon rigor and breadth. All housing costs are covered, and each student will receive a stipend of $3,000 to cover ancillary expenses (or to help offset travel costs where applicable).
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
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: Foreign Policy
Drawing on three weeks of theoretical class work and the practical insights of our guest speakers, we turn to applying these ideas to policy making, beginning with foreign policy. One section examines the nature of world order and America’s role in shaping it. A second section explores the challenge that the Iranian nuclear program poses to the United States. A third section takes up US policy toward a rising China. This week includes a trip to the Gettysburg battlefield.
Week Five: Domestic Policy
After exploring American interests abroad, we turn to the art of domestic policy making. One section develops an understanding of democratic capitalism and its application to economic policy. A second section examines the strengths and weaknesses of the US health care system, and the prospects of current and future reform. A final section examines the transformation of American government in recent decades, including the political roots of these changes and their effects in particular areas of policy and political debate.
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 focuses on the claims of reason and revelation as sources of ultimate truth and as guides for the political world.