Civitas Forum attracts distinguished speakers

by Courtney Briggs, Staff Writer

The annual Civitas Forum on Principles and Policies for Public Life was held on October 6 in the Fred Rodgers Center. The lectures included American Democracy and American Higher Education, by Dr. Thomas Lindsay, Does Civic Education Have a Future? by Dr. David Bobb, Washington Doesn’t Know Best: The Perils of Federalizing Education, by Lance Izumi, and American Leadership, 1940-1950: Lessons for 2010, by General Josiah Bunting, III.

The Civitas Forum on Principles and Policies for Public Life has been directed for over thirty years. The goal of the forum is to identify and expound upon the principles of a free and well-ordered society in the American and Western tradition. They also examine contemporary issues in relation to such principles. The forum, which lasts from the morning into the early afternoon, brings scholars and experts to the SVC to address ideas and issues that relate to the civic traditions of America’s founding, as well as their own thoughts on the topics. Mary Beth McConahey and Dr. Bradley C.S. Watson, both of the Political Science department, organized this year’s forum. Along with other faculty members, they selected scholars suited specifically to address the subject. In addition, they publish an annual journal of political theory and public life called Citizens and Statesmen, which is a collection of essays from the conference lecturers. The Center for Political and Economic Thought also keeps a list of the past lectures presented at the Civitas online. It includes the lecturer, a brief summary of the lecture and sometimes audio of the lecture itself.

McConahey explained that the main intention of this program is for students to learn through real life experience about politics. The themes are geared toward exploring what it means to be citizens. The lectures encourage students to think about their personal role in the government and encourage them to reflect on the demands of citizenship and how each student personally contributes to the overall health of the American republic.

Dr. Thomas Lindsay worked in higher education for over 25 years as both a professor and administrator. He received a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Chicago. He served as vice president of academic affairs at the University of Dallas and also was dean of its graduate school. Some of his published articles include American Political Science Review, The Journal of Politics, and the American Journal of Political Science. He is currently producing a textbook.

Dr. David Bobb is the director of the Hillsdale College Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship, located in Washington, D.C. and serves as a lecturer at Hillsdale College. He earned his Ph.D. at Boston College. He has written many reviews and articles for the Washington Times, Boston Herald, Claremont Review of Books, American Spectator, Perspectives on Political Science, and Modern Age.

Lance Izumi is a senior director of Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy. He is a member of the Board of Governors of California Community Colleges and received an award recognizing his leadership and service this year.

Gen. Josiah Bunting is the chairman of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s National Civic Literacy Board. He served as an infantry officer in Vietnam and has been a history professor at Naval War College and West Point as well as president of Briarcliff College and Hampden Sydney College. He also has served as president of the Harry Frank Gugenheim Foundation since 2004.

According to McConahey, “the Civitas Forum has been extremely successful in past years, as we’ve been fortunate in our ability to attract truly first-rate scholars to discuss what are, we hope, interesting and relevant topics. Last year, for example, the conference focused on the exciting topic of Patriotism and the American Character. For this year’s forum on the subject of Civic Learning and Constitutional Government—a topic of obvious consequence—we’ve enlisted four stellar lecturers again, and I expect that the nature of the subject and the caliber of our speakers will combine to draw a large and distinguished audience.”

Each lecturer has a different background along with numerous stories to share to anyone willing to listen. McConahey, Watson, and many more faculty members are already working on next year’s forum, hoping to continue its success.

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