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Summer 2017 Academic Questions: The “New Civics”

Jun 29, 2017 |  NAS

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Summer 2017 Academic Questions: The “New Civics”

Jun 29, 2017 | 


In the Summer 2017 issue of Academic Questions, contributors discuss trends in American civic education and NAS's January 2017 report Making Citizens: How American Universities Teach Civics. The first entry of the special section "The 'New Civics': What Is to Be Done?" includes essays by KC Johnson, Harry C. Boyte, Nicholas Capaldi, Michael I. Krauss, Allen Mendenhall, and William Voegeli responding to NAS’s report.

Two authors reflect on the need for a liberal education that upholds citizenship and the way public schools and universities have ignored this need: John Agresto in "Toward an American Liberal Education" and Robert Maranto in "Civic Disengagement."

This issue also debuts a new special section titled "Conversations." In "Can We Talk? Tom Wolfe's The Kingdom of Speech," Peter Wood, Geoffrey Clarfield, Glynn Custred, and Carol Iannone respond to the novelist's new book on the debate over the origins of speech.

In their "Verdicts" entry entitled "Roger Scruton: Trusteeship Conservatism," Stephen Eide and Keith Whitaker consider the prolific scholar's contributions to academic thought and history.

The issue's second to last article analyzes threats to free speech at the University of North Carolina. Mike Adams and Adam Kissel examine the political and institutional origins of perceived threats to free speech at UNC in "Censorship in the UNC System: Correcting the Narrative." Dan Subotnik, in the last article, examines sexual assault on campuses in "Assaulting the Facts."

NAS members will receive printed copies of this issue in the mail. (NAS members, click here for instructions on how to get full online access to all AQ articles.)

The featured articles from the Summer 2017 AQ are listed below.

Two of this issue’s articles (John Agresto's "Toward an American Liberal Education" and the "Conversations" entry "Can We Talk? Tom Wolfe's The Kingdom of Speech") are available for free through our website.

Citizenship versus the “New Civics”

KC Johnson, Brooklyn College

Harry C. Boyte, Center for Democracy and Citizenship, Augsburg College

Nicholas Capaldi, Center for Spiritual Capital, Loyola University New Orleans

Michael I. Krauss, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University

Allen Mendenhall, Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty, Faulkner University

William Voegeli, Henry Salvatori Center, Claremont McKenna College

In the opening entry of this issue’s first special section, “The ‘New Civics’: What Is to Be Done?” KC Johnson, Harry C. Boyte, Nicholas Capaldi, Michael I. Krauss, Allen Mendenhall, and William Voegeli respond to the latest report of the National Association of Scholars, Making Citizens: How American Universities Teach Civics, by director of communications David Randall. Forum contributors comment upon the alarming developments Making Citizens describes.

Toward an American Liberal Education

John Agresto

For the liberal arts to prosper again, John Agresto contends in an essay adapted from his keynote speech at the 2016 Alliance for Liberal Learning conference, we must “prove that an American liberal education can exist, one that rightly honors what America rightly honors; one that helps this country understand itself and the principles that undergird it; one that has regard for our fellow citizens, respects their character and abilities, and wants not merely to criticize but to improve their lot; one that makes us smarter in areas that really matter.”

Civic Disengagement

Robert Maranto, University of Arkansas

How has Americans’ civic knowledge deteriorated even as our level of education has risen over the past fifty years? In the last entry in “The ‘New Civics,’” Robert Maranto finds the answers in a shift of focus in public school education from teaching constitutional values and a love of country to “custodial care and building skills for economic success”; declining patriotism; and the loss of a “shared…experience of making a sacrifice for [our] nation by serving in the military.”

Can We Talk? Tom Wolfe’s The Kingdom of Speech

Peter Wood, National Association of Scholars

Geoffrey Clarfield

Glynn Custred, California State University, East Bay

Carol Iannone, Academic Questions

“Conversations,” a new occasional special section, fittingly debuts with a discussion on the origins of human language, inspired by Tom Wolfe’s The Kingdom of Speech. Anthropologists Peter Wood, Geoffrey Clarfield, and Glynn Custred discuss the undeniable link Wolfe draws between the charged circumstances in which Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace during the mid-1800s, and Noam Chomsky and Daniel L. Everett today, worked to develop hypotheses on the origins of speech. Carol Iannone offers an afterword on those who have claimed to have the last word on evolution.

Roger Scruton: Trusteeship Conservatism

Stephen Eide, Center for State and Local Leadership, Manhattan Institute

Keith Whitaker, Wise Counsel Research

Academic Questions also offers an occasional special section on the contributions of prominent figures in recent academic and scholarly history. In their “Verdicts” entry Stephen Eide and Keith Whitaker discuss the work of the prolific Roger Scruton, whose conservatism they describe as “‘trusteeship conservatism,’ because of the central importance he assigns to custom in thinking about the means and ends of politics.” Scruton’s ability to identify and critique the roots of progressivism, “and distinguish it from what he considers authentic conservatism,” Eide and Whitaker argue, “may be unmatched.”

Censorship in the UNC System: Correcting the Narrative

Mike Adams, University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Adam Kissel

An intensifying oral tradition among the faculty of the University of North Carolina speaks of constant, longstanding threats to free speech, particularly from the state legislature. Mike Adams and Adam Kissel carefully review the relevant history to set the record straight.

Assaulting the Facts

Dan Subotnik, Touro Law School

Do college women face, as claimed, a 20 percent chance of being sexually assaulted on campus, where they live within a “rape culture,” constantly intimidated and fearful of their male classmates? In his review essay of Rape Culture Hysteria: Fixing the Damage Done to Men and Women, by Wendy McElroy, and The Crisis of Campus Sexual Violence: Critical Perspectives on Prevention and Response, edited by Sara Carrigan Wooton and Roland W. Mitchell, Dan Subotnik examines the range of assessments regarding sexual assault on campus, from shrill assertion to data-based arguments, and finds that no crisis has been proven to exist.

Image: Tattered by Michael Cory // CC BY 2.0

Peter Clecak

| July 21, 2017 - 7:37 PM

Nicholas Capaldi cuts straight through reams of temporizing academic drivel, drawing the battle lines in the conflict over the “New Civics” as distinctly as they need be drawn. I hope that his remedy will be acted on, and soon.