Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Georgetown's Tocqueville Forum.

Today's edition of The Hoya reports on a program at Georgetown that I wish had existed when I was an undergraduate:
Since its inception, the Tocqueville Forum has served as an arena for students interested in government to unearth the fundamental causes behind contemporary Western society and theological thought.

Every year as part of its quest, government professor and forum director Patrick Deneen leads a group of students off campus in a retreat to reflect on the foundation of such values.

"We break bread together, we discuss books, we hike. We try — just for a weekend — to experience college as it once was, spending hours inside and outside seminar rooms discussing ideas and truth."

It has been five years since Deneen founded the Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy in the hopes of mirroring the intellectual project of Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville, who strove to define the foundation of American democracy, culture and intellect. Since 2006, Deneen has grown its number of undergraduate fellows to over 70 students.

"What has always been the case and what interested me from the very beginning was that the Tocqueville Forum is very welcoming to all students and that there is a rich intellectual dialogue that is often missing on campus," said Erik Wind (SFS '09), who was involved with the program in his undergraduate years.
As a teacher and as a Georgetown alumnus, I was most edified by the following paragraphs of The Hoya's report on the Tocqueville Forum:
The perks of fellowship in the Tocqueville Forum — dining with some of the country's most highly regarded minds while conversing about the condition of democracy and liberty — attract students to the program, but what the fellows discuss among themselves appears to spark the most excitement.

"My favorite is the reading group — it's run by post-doctoral fellows and is basically an opportunity for students to get together over some cookies and discuss a good book without any worries about grades or being judged," Michael Fischer (SFS '13) said. "It's a very liberating experience to discuss and enjoy a piece of literature or philosophical thought purely for its own merit."
To read the rest of The Hoya article, click here. Better yet, pay a visit to the Tocqueville Forum website to learn more about the program and its offerings. AMDG.


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