Have the Liberal Arts Become Too Politicized?

A Meeting of Minds, Left and Right

Download the complete program here!

June 11-13 – Charles W. Loosemore Auditorium

GVSU Robert C. Pew Grand Rapids Campus, Richard M. DeVos Center Building E

Have the Liberal Arts Become Too Politicized? A Meeting of Minds, Left and Right
Hauenstein Center Common Ground Summit

Date: June 11-13
Time: June 11: afternoon conversation at 4 PM and evening keynote at 7 PM; June 12-13: all-day keynotes and panel discussions (click here for a schedule of events)
Location: Loosemore Auditorium, GVSU downtown Pew campus, DeVos Building E

About the Summit:
Academic rigor requires intellectual diversity and the free interchange of ideas between the left and the right. However, numerous recent books, surveys, and articles suggest that the opposite is occurring in the academy: the ideological gulf between conservatives and progressives, particularly in the humanities and the social sciences, is actually widening. Our summit focused on the perceived politicization of higher education and ways to promote constructive and principled discourse between the left and right. Keynote speakers and panelists from Princeton, New York University, University of British Columbia, Ohio State, Youngstown State, Penn State, Houston Baptist University, St. John’s College, University of Colorado, Aquinas College, The Imaginative Conservative, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Grand Valley State University explored how the academy can overcome ideological divides and discover common ground in the liberal arts.

In the past year, the Hauenstein Center has developed civic leadership through its Common Ground Initiative, an effort to bring together progressives and conservatives in an open, respectful, and intellectually rigorous forum to explore possible common ground. With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, we have hosted major researchers and scholars to investigate the first principles of these two traditions, and explore the possible common ground that they might share – historically, culturally, politically. Unique in higher education today, the Common Ground Initiative offers a balanced, comprehensive exploration (and redefinition) what it means to be conservative and what it means to be progressive in the 21st century.

This conference was in partnership with the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal. Support is provided by the Dyer-Ives Foundation and the Earhart Foundation.

Eva Brann & W. Winston Elliott III
Liberal Learning, the Human Person & Plato’s Meno: Let us Reason Together

Neil Gross
Keynote: Why Are Professors Liberal?

Matthew C. Woessner
Keynote: Bridging the Ideological Divide: Fostering True Diversity in Higher Education.

Quincy Williams, Erika King, Judy Whipps
Panel: Perspectives on the State of the Liberal Arts From Various Disciplines 

Eva Brann
Lunch/Keynote: Odysseus: Patron Hero of the Liberal Arts

Stephen Rowe, student responses by Joe Hogan, Abigail DeHart, and Austin Knuppe
Panel: Insights by Stephen Rowe, with Student Perspectives

Bradley Birzer
Keynote: Citizenship in a Republic of Letters

Robert George
Keynote: Is There a Cure for Campus Illiberalism?

William Craig Rice, Jonathan Zimmerman
Keynote: What Is to Be Done?

Jason Duncan, P. Douglas Kindschi, Frederick J. Antczak, Gayle Davis
Panel: Administration in Humanities & Social Sciences

Chris Nelson, and a reflection by Arend D. Lubbers
Lunch/Keynote: Beyond Politics: Liberal Education and the Future of the Republic

Ben Lockerd, Barbara J. Elliott, Jonathan White, Jeffrey Chamberlain
Panel: Honors Colleges that Teach the Humanities & Social Sciences

Deborah Mower, response by Noreen K. Myers
Keynote: Marketing the Marketplace: Civility in Academia and Beyond














Keynoter bios:

Bradley J. Birzer holds the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in History at Hillsdale College and teaches courses on the Civil War, the American West, and twentieth century Christian humanism. He is the author of several books including American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-earth, and the co-founder of the online publication, the Imaginative Conservative. He is currently scholar in residence and visiting professor of conservative thought at University of Colorado-Boulder.

Eva Brann is a distinguished and long-serving tutor at St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland. She received her Ph.D. in archeology from Yale University and is the author of numerous works on Greek poetry and philosophy. Dr. Brann has also published translations of Plato’s Sophist and Plato’s Phaedo. Dr. Brann was the 2005 National Humanities Medal recipient.

W. Winston Elliott III is president of the Free Enterprise Institute, editor of Imaginative Conservative Books, and editor-in-chief of The Imaginative Conservative. Mr. Elliott earned a bachelor of arts degree in history from Washington College. He was awarded a master’s of business administration, with honors, from the University of Houston.

Robert P. George is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. In July 2013, he was elected chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He has also served on the President’s Council on Bioethics (2002-09) and as a presidential appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (1993-98).

Neil Gross is a professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia and currently a visiting scholar at New York University’s Institute for Public Knowledge. He previously taught at the University of Southern California and Harvard University. His books include Why Are Professors Liberal and Why Do Conservatives Care? and Richard Rorty: The Making of an American Philosopher.

Deborah Mower is an associate professor of philosophy in the department of philosophy and religious studies at Youngstown State University and regularly teaches courses in professional ethics. She is the president of the Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum and an active member of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics.

Chris B. Nelson has been president of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, since June 1991. He is an alumnus of St. John’s and a graduate of the University of Utah College of Law. He practiced law in Chicago for 18 years and was chairman of his law firm. He has been a panelist and speaker on state, regional, and national programs concerning liberal education, issues of institutional autonomy in the face of government regulatory intrusion, and changes proposed in the accrediting system.

William Craig Rice is the director of the Division of Education Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities. Before coming to NEH in 2007, he served as the president of Shimer College, a college dedicated to the study of the great books. Rice earned his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, where he won the Hopwood Writing Award and the Brubacher Prize in the History and Philosophy of Education. He also taught expository writing for many years at Harvard where he edited non-fiction for the Harvard Review. He is the author of Public Discourse and Academic Inquiry.

Matthew C. Woessner is an associate professor of political science and public policy at Pennsylvania State University in Harrisburg. His specializations include political behavior and research methodology. His most recent article, recently presented at the American Enterprise Institute, is titled “Left Pipeline: Why Conservatives Don’t Get Doctorates.” His work on politics in academia has been profiled by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Wall Street Journal.

Jonathan Zimmerman is a professor of education and history at New York University. A former Peace Corps volunteer and high school teacher, Zimmerman is the author of four books. He is also a frequent op-ed contributor to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other popular newspapers and magazines. In 2008, Zimmerman received NYU’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the university’s highest teaching honor.

Panelist bios:

Frederick J. Antczak is dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Grand Valley State University (GVSU). A native of Grand Rapids, he earned his B.A. from Notre Dame and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He has taught at the University of California-Berkeley, University of Virginia, and University of Iowa before coming to GVSU as founding dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. His book Thought and Character won a Phi Beta Kappa book award, and he was honored at University of Virginia and at Iowa for his teaching.

Jeffrey Chamberlain has been director of the Frederik Meijer Honors College since 2007. He earned an M.Div. and M.A. in church history from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and his Ph.D. in British history from the University of Chicago. He previously served as a professor of history at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL.

Gayle Davis became GVSU’s provost and vice president for Academic and Student Affairs in 2002. In 2009, she was presented the Michigan American Council on Education (MI-ACE) Network’s Distinguished Woman in Higher Education Leadership Award. Davis earned her B.A. in French at Muskingum College in Ohio and her M.A. in art history and Ph.D. in American Studies from Michigan State University. She taught in and chaired the Women’s Studies Department at Wichita State University in Kansas, later serving as WSU’s vice president for Academic Affairs and Research before coming to Grand Valley.

Abigail DeHart is a senior at GVSU, majoring in philosophy and classics. She recently returned from spending a year abroad in Varanasi, India where she conducted a year-long research project concerning equality within the Indian educational system. DeHart is a fellow in the Cook Leadership Academy. She is a recent recipient of a prestigious Josephine DeKarman Fellowship.

Jason Duncan earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in history from the University of Iowa. He joined the Aquinas College faculty in 2002, where he is a professor of history and chair of the history department. His publications include Citizens or Papists? The Politics of Anti-Catholicism in New York, 1685-1821 and John F. Kennedy: The Spirit of Cold War Liberalism. Before entering academics, he worked in politics for several years, including as a legislative assistant to a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.

Barbara Elliott is a professor in the Honors College of Houston Baptist University. She is the president of the Center for Cultural Renewal, a resource center she founded in 1997 for faith-based organizations working to renew communities in America. She is also the founder of The WorkFaith Connection, a nonprofit in Houston that transitions people out of prison, homelessness, unemployment, or addiction into a new job and a new life. The Manhattan Institute gave her the Social Entrepreneurship Award in 2011.

Joseph Hogan graduated from the Meijer Honors College majoring in English and film and video production. Hogan worked as a lead writing consultant at the Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors, volunteered as an English instructor at the Literacy Center of West Michigan, and founded Cinesthesia, a student-run journal of cinema studies at GVSU. He is also a fellow in the Cook Leadership Academy.

P. Douglas Kindschi, now in his 38th year at GVSU, served as dean of sciences for 28 years. Kindschi earned his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is currently university professor of mathematics and philosophy at GVSU. In January 2010, he was appointed as the founding director of the Sylvia and Richard Kaufman Interfaith Institute. In 2012, he led the community-wide Year of Interfaith Understanding which included hundreds of interfaith events.

Erika King is professor of political science at GVSU. She previously served as chair of the department of political science and dean of social sciences at Grand Valley. Prior to that, King was professor of political science and associate dean of the faculty at Chatham University. Her teaching and research specialization is mass media and politics, and she has published in a variety of scholarly journals. Her most recent book Obama, the Media, and Framing the U.S. Exit from Iraq and Afghanistan was published earlier this year.

Austin Knuppe is a graduate student in international relations and political methodology at Ohio State University. His research interests include the evolution of military doctrine, American grand strategy, and the study of religion in international politics. Prior to OSU, Austin was a Robert Bosch Fellow in Berlin working at the Federal German Ministry of Defense and the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. He has a master’s degree from the Committee on International Relations at the University of Chicago and a B.A. from Calvin College.

Benjamin Lockerd is a senior contributor at the Imaginative Conservative. He is professor of English and director of the English M.A. program at GVSU. He has written articles on a variety of literary topics, and he is the author of The Sacred Marriage: Psychic Integration in “The Faerie Queene” and Aethereal Rumours: T. S. Eliot’s Physics and Poetics. He was president of the T. S. Eliot Society, and he writes an annual review of Eliot scholarship for American Literary Scholarship.

Noreen Myers received her B.A. in political science from GVSU, followed by graduate studies in political philosophy at Loyola University and Georgetown University. She received a J.D. from Thomas Cooley Law School and has been in private practice since 1983, specializing in the area of employment and civil rights law. In 2005, she was appointed to the Board of Trustees of GVSU, chaired the Academic Affairs Committee, and then was the first alumnus board chair.

Stephen Rowe is professor of philosophy and liberal studies at GVSU. He is also actively engaged in intercultural dialogue and consultation on liberal education through several universities and institutions in China and the U.S. He is an award-winning teacher and author of multiple books including Overcoming America/America Overcoming: Can We Survive Modernity?

Judy Whipps is a professor of liberal studies and philosophy at GVSU. Whipps earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy at Union Institute with a dissertation on Philosophy and Social Activism: An Exploration of the Pragmatism and Activism of Jane Addams, John Dewey, and Engaged Buddhism. She also holds an M.A. from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a B.A. from the Liberal Studies program at GVSU. Her main interests are American philosophy, particularly the intersection of feminism and pragmatism, as well as philosophy of education.

Jonathan White is a professor of interdisciplinary studies in the Meijer Honors College. The executive director of GVSU’s Homeland Defensive Initiative, White is a national expert on the topic of terrorism and religious extremism. He holds a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice and Criminology from Michigan State University and a Master of Divinity from Western Theological Seminary. He teaches classes on religious terrorism, radicalization, and jihadist violence for the State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training (SLATT) program of the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. He also taught at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, and worked with several foreign police agencies and the United States Department of State Anti-Terrorism Assistance program. His book Terrorism: An Introduction is a bestseller in its fourth edition. He is also the author of Defending the Homeland and Terrorism and Homeland Security.

Quincy Williams is the undergraduate and internship coordinator for the School of Public, Nonprofit, and Health Administration at GVSU. Williams earned his B.A. in human service agency management and recreation administration from Missouri Valley College and his M.A. from Lindenwood University. Prior to joining GVSU, Williams served as the national director of internships and placement programs for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, Inc.

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