The Montesquieu Forum for the Study of Civic Life at Roosevelt University and the Benjamin Franklin Project at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) collaborated last fall offering courses and events to students on both campuses through their Galileo-Shakespeare Project.
This interdisciplinary project commemorated the joint 450th birthday of Galileo Galilei and William Shakespeare, two great figures that have inspired generations of thinkers, writers and innovators including some of our nation’s founders.
“Both Jefferson and Franklin recognized that a successful republic rests upon an educated citizenry, both in the sciences, which involves an understanding of nature and man’s relationship to it, and the liberal arts, which involves an understanding of being human and the various ways humans might relate to each other,” said Professor Stuart Warner, director of the Montesquieu Forum.
“To have students study Galileo and Shakespeare together allows them to place these twin orientations under one lens, and thereby to focus on the cultural presuppositions of the liberal republican order that is America.”
In partnership with JMC and through a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation, the Galileo-Shakespeare project reached a wide undergraduate audience including students of physics, philosophy and politics as well as pre-professional students in engineering, business, and law.
Courses offered at Roosevelt were Science, Medicine and Natural Philosophy in Early Modern Europe, taught by history professor, Celeste Chamberland; and Galileo/Shakespeare: The Birth of a New World, taught by Professor Warner.
Last November, the project hosted the “Conference on the Humanities and Sciences in the Early Modern World.” The conference began with an event featuring The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik speaking on “The Humanities as the Foundation of the Sciences” at Roosevelt University’s revered Ganz Hall. It followed with a series of well-attended lectures the following day on IIT’s campus.
“This very exciting collaboration between Roosevelt and IIT partners two Chicago-based institutions in a celebration of the twin births of modern science and modern conceptions of human freedom,” said Dr. Pamela Edwards, JMC director of academic programs.
“It is a wonderful accompaniment to JMC’s national Commercial Republic project as it considers the role of innovation and free institutions in wealth creation and advancement of human flourishing.”