Hosted as part of the Hauenstein Center’s Common Ground Initiative, in partnership with the Kate and Richard Wolters Foundation, the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, and the Progressive Women’s Alliance of West Michigan, “Progressive/Conservative” brought together thought leaders from the left and right, and from inside and outside the academy, to discuss how the collision of progressivism and conservatism in America shapes, has shaped, and will continue to shape our national identity.
Americans have ample reason to think deeply and critically about the roots of progressivism, conservatism, and the various ways the two have interacted in history. Today, the widening gap between the left and right, as well as the fractures inside the Democratic and Republican parties, have caused widespread political confusion and upheaval. Ideological gridlock dominates the headlines, while reasoned and substantive political discussion often devolves into talking-head repartee and triumphalist chest thumping.
In this age of crippling ideological polarization, the time is ripe for a reexamination, and even redefinition, of what it means to be progressive, and what it means to be conservative, in the 21st century. Our summit provided a rigorous setting for political thought leaders, humanities scholars, and engaged citizens to discuss the ways in which progressives and conservatives might share common ground and common cause—historically, culturally, philosophically.
Friday, April 15
7-8:30 PM: Michael Ignatieff on politics and the humanities
Saturday, April 16
8-9 AM: Kevin M. Schultz on William F. Buckley and Norman Mailer
9:15-10:30: Claire Rydell Arcenas on John Stuart Mill and Harriet Taylor Mill and Judy Whipps on John Dewey and Jane Addams
10:45-Noon: Benjamin Lockerd on T.S. Eliot, Bradley J. Birzer on Russell Kirk, and Lisa Szefel on Peter Viereck
12:30-1:30 PM: George H. Nash on the conservative intellectual movement in America
1:45-3: Natalia Mehlman Petrzela on the culture wars in education, Raymond J. Haberski, Jr. on just war and civil religion, and Paul Murphy on early twentieth-century humanism
3:15-4:30: Paul D. Moreno on progressives and the administrative state and Kevin Mattson on contemporary distrust between progressives and conservatives
6-7:30: E.J. Dionne, Jr. and David Hollinger discuss common ground between liberal Protestants and secular liberals
Sunday, April 17
11 AM: Andrew Hartman and Christopher Shannon debate the culture wars
“The criteria that I have for accepting invitations of this kind is [whether or not] I think that the question that I’m being asked is really interesting and important. I want to publicly celebrate the Hauenstein Center and Gleaves Whitney in particular for this initiative. The search for common ground is incredibly important.”
~Michael Ignatieff, former leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
“It’s a great honor, and I should say that when I received the kind invitation to be here I first thought, ‘okay, talking about progressivism and conservatism, that’s interesting, but not totally path breaking,’ but then I thought, ‘Wait, with progressives AND conservatives on the stage and in the room? There’s something new. I think it’s quite telling that that’s such an exciting prospect and that it has to be so deliberate for us to come together to have these discussions. It only intensifies the honor that I feel to be here.”
~Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, Assistant Professor of History at The New School
“What a pleasure and honor it was to participate in the Progressive/Conservative 2016 Summit. I learned a lot and met some wonderful people. More than that, I was inspired by the initiative and good spirit that everyone brought. It all went seamlessly, which speaks to an impressive team collaboration and professionalism. I hope our paths cross again.”
~Lisa Szefel, Associate Professor of History at Pacific University
“I wanted to thank you and your entire staff for such a terrific weekend of discussion, debate, and sustained engagement. I can’t remember a conference weekend when I have learned so much and felt that the conversations between speakers and an audience were so thoughtful and important. It was truly an honor and a privilege to participate. Thank you so much for the invitation to speak and for everything you did to make the summit possible. I am eager to follow the Hauenstein Center’s events closely in the future.”
~Claire Rydell Arcenas, PhD Candidate at Stanford University