To Restore American Democracy: Political Education and the Modern University

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At a time when democracy in America suffers from a profound sense of cynicism, lack of trust, and disengagement, especially among young adults, this book is a much needed antidote. Here are original essays by some of the most distinguished and insightful political thinkers of our time. No armchair observers, they have advised presidents, been public servants, testified before Congress, helped other countries draft constitutions, worked as journalists, and won teaching awards. They participate ardently in the polity and civil society they write about here. The main focus of the essays is what role universities might be able to play in reviving a sense of citizenship and civic responsibility in our society. They represent different perspectives and differing opinions, making this a rich stimulus for discussion and action. At stake is nothing less than the future strength of democracy in the United States.

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Editorial Reviews

Thomas A. Spragens
A standard charge in recent years has been that the American university has become unduly politicized. That is largely a misperception fostered by the grandstanding of left-leaning humanities professors and the consequent lamentations of right-leaning commentators who seem to believe it a proper function of universities to instill an uncritical patriotism in their students. The more pertinent worry is whether today's universities are doing what they can and should to give their students the knowledge and the critical acumen needed to lead the sovereign public of a democratic superpower. It would be hard to imagine a more appropriate and illustrious cast of contributors than the one here assembled to shed light on this very timely concern.
James Fallows
To Restore American Democracy addresses familiar political concerns from an unexpected and promising direction. The essays collected in this book consider whether and how modern universities can encourage students to become true citizens, not just attractive future employees and entrepreneurs. The essays are stimulating in their own right and powerful as a collection. This is an important book.
Stephen Elkin
This is an impressive volume whose participants include many of the most important students of democratic political education. It would be difficult to assemble a better group.
Sidney M. Milkis
Having assembled an extraordinary roster of scholars, Robert Calvert engages them in a fascinating discussion of the University's civic responsibility. Exposing the Academy's indifference to citizenship, the authors of this volume call on administrators, faculty, and students to probe the deep philosophical and historical roots of the troubled state of citizenship in the United States. Even as they indict the modern University for its inattention to our civic life, the essays of this volume bristle with possibilities for the study of politics in depth. Combining sophisticated intellectual inquiry with a deep and abiding faith in self government, To Restore American Democracy offers hope for those of us who believe that Universities can, indeed, have a duty to appeal to the better angels of our nature.
George Allan
This book is an integrated collection of essays about how colleges and universities are failing to prepare students to be responsible citizens in a religiously and ethnically pluralistic America, and what they should do to correct that failure. The authors, in their varied voices, explore specific ways by which students might learn to become adept practitioners of the democratic and republican skills by which their clashing interests, intellectual disagreements, and moral antipathies can be transformed into a workable common good. These essays are both realistic and hopeful, worried about the dangers political apathy and ignorance pose to our liberties, convinced that through improvements in political education a more involved and informed citizenry can be fostered. Reading these authors is to become involved in a stimulating, sometimes raucous, open-ended and action-oriented conversation about what it means to be an American—which, of course, is precisely what it should mean to be an American.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742534544
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 1/28/2006
  • Pages: 290
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert E. Calvert is professor of political science at DePauw University.

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Table of Contents

1 Political education and the modern university : prologue 1
2 Between resignation and utopia : political education in the modern American university 29
3 Liberal education and the civic project 45
4 The media, the mall, the multiplex : America's invisible tutors and the end of citizenship 55
5 The values of media, the values of citizenship, and the values of higher education 79
6 Public spaces and 95
7 The culture of expedience : liberal education meets the "real" world 117
8 Education and character in an age of moral freedom 137
9 Democracy, character, and the university 155
10 How do we talk? : God talk and American political life 171
11 Plato's dogs : reflections on the university after 9/11 185
12 The civic education of a black American in a great big world 205
13 Moral education and democratic citizenship 217
14 Utopias gone wrong : the antipolitical culture of the modern university and how to change it 231
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