This intensive two-week seminar is run in conjunction with National Affairs magazine. It aims to educate undergraduate students and recent graduates about the intersection of theory and practice in our national politics, and particularly in our key economic debates. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the key domestic challenges confronting our country, of just what policymakers do, of how economics and politics interact, and of how to approach some of our most contentious national debates.

Past guest lecturers have included Ross Douthat (The New York Times), Reihan Salam (Manhattan Institute), Scott Winship (U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee), and James Capretta (AEI), among others.

Images from U.S. Department of Energy |  Smithsonian American Art Museum

Yuval Levin on reform conservatism


Yuval Levin

Yuval Levin is a Resident Scholar and Director of Social, Cultural, and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the Editor of National Affairs magazine. Mr. Levin served on the White House domestic policy staff under President George W. Bush.

Preview the Syllabus by Week/Session



Discussion Questions:

  1. What are our obligations toward the poor? What are the government’s obligations?
  2. Are there moral obligations that being wealthy imposes on the people who are wealthy? What are they? What are their limits?
  3. Does commercial society place any special burdens on, or give any special opportunities to, the poor? Are poor people better off in commercial societies, or in other kinds of society?
  4. What is the problem to which Marx and Engels want to offer a solution?
  5. What are the benefits and drawbacks of centralized management of the economy?
  6. Are markets democratic?



Discussion Questions:

  1. Why is our country facing a fiscal crisis? Are the primary causes political, economic, or moral? How are these connected?
  2. What economic obligations does one generation have to the next?
  3. What is the connection between the moral case for providing benefits and the problem of paying for them?



Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the relationship between economic growth and social cohesion? Are they necessarily in tension? Which should we prefer?
  2. Is social mobility essential to American life? Should we never be satisfied with our position in society?
  3. Does growing income inequality signal a failure of our economic system? If so, is inequality a symptom or a cause?

Other Courses You Might Be Interested In

Varieties of American Conservatism

Discover the intellectual roots of modern conservatism.

Can Partisanship Be Fixed?

Investigate the debate over parties by examining their nature and role in American political life.

Administration & Crisis

Examine case studies in American history to better understand presidential crisis management.

Health Care & The Welfare State

Examine the theoretical roots and foundations of social welfare policy, particularly as it pertains to health care.

Understanding Populism

Understand the resurgence of populism in America.

Theory and Practice in Government Policy

Study the influence of ideas in four areas of policy contention—taxation, regulation, welfare, and abortion.