In the final week of Political Studies, fellows will turn to contemporary issues of domestic policy, with a focus on understanding how ideas influence policy.

One seminar will introduce students to the approaches and ideas of 20th-century conservative social science through four great debates in social policy: family structure, poverty, welfare, and crime. The second seminar will explore the philosophical and political issues raised by the nature of modern science and its place in our democratic society. In both seminars, fellows will debate the merit of various policy ideas and reflect on what is required for an idea to become politically impactful.


Tony Mills on the Perils of Politicized Science


Charles Fain Lehman

Charles Fain Lehman is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, working primarily on the Policing and Public Safety Initiative, and a contributing editor of City Journal. His work on criminal justice, immigration, and social issues has appeared in the Wall Street Journal and Tablet, among other publications.

Matthew Continetti

Matthew Continetti is resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Prior to joining AEI, he was Editor in Chief of the Washington Free Beacon. His articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

M. Anthony Mills

Anthony (Tony) Mills is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he studies the federal government’s role in scientific research and innovation as well as how to integrate scientific expertise into our governing institutions. Dr. Mills holds a PhD and an MA in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and a BA in philosophy, French, and comparative literature from Northwestern University.

Preview the Syllabus by Week/Session



Discussion Questions:

  1. What were the social problems that prompted conservative critiques?
  2. Where did Kennedy-Johnson liberalism go awry?
  3. What lessons can we draw from this experience for analysis today?



Discussion Questions:

  1. Was Moynihan’s focus on family structure merited? Or was he “blaming the victim?”



Discussion Questions:

  1. Is it persuasive to believe that individual behavior produces a persistent underclass?
  2. How much trust should we have in institutions to resolve the problems of the worst off?



Discussion Questions:

  1. Was Murray right that welfare drove people to the dole? Or was he, as Jencks put it, a social Darwinist?



Discussion Questions:

  1. Does the “broken windows” model work? Is it just? And should it remain the model for policing today?

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