American University: The Lincoln Scholars Program

Lincoln Memorial

School of Public Affairs: The Lincoln Scholars Program


American University’s School of Public Affairs is launching the Lincoln Scholars Program (Certificate in Political Thought) as a 15-credit certificate program for 1st and 2nd year students who want to explore the great questions of moral and political life in a context of intellectual and political diversity. JMC faculty partner Thomas Merrill serves as the Program Director.

Key points of the program include: 

  1. Small seminar classes on foundational texts. Classes are seminar discussions of classic texts in political theory and philosophy, economics, and literature. Students learn to read closely, write clearly, and think about issues from multiple points of view.
  2. An intellectually and political diverse program. No one can truly understand their own beliefs unless they know the strongest arguments on the other side. Lincoln Scholars welcomes students and faculty who are liberal, conservative, and those who do not fit into any category, and aims to model frank but respectful discussion of important issues.
  3. An intellectual community of students and scholars outside the classroom. The program uses guest lectures, reading groups, and retreats to create a community of conversation outside the classroom for both students and faculty. The program also offers 1 credit classes on career opportunities for students with a background in liberal education.

Thomas Merrill explains the goals of the Lincoln Scholars Program in this video:

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Thomas MerrillThomas Merrill is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University. He was a senior research analyst for the President’s Council on Bioethics during the George W. Bush administration and is the Associate Director of the Political Theory Institute at American University, which has hosted many public intellectuals from across the political spectrum as well as many academic political theorists. Professor Merrill has served as coordinator of the undergraduate program in Government and, more recently, as chair of the Department of Government. He is the author of Hume and the Politics of Enlightenment (Cambridge, 2015), which won the Delba Winthrop Prize for Best Recent Work in Political Philosophy. He is also the co-editor of three edited volumes, including The Political Thought of the Civil War (University Press of Kansas, 2018) and has held fellowships from Harvard, Princeton, and the American Enterprise Institute.

Professor Merrill is a JMC faculty partner.

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The School of Public Affairs at American University aims to increase practical connections between higher education and the operations of government and public service. It promotes engagement to build a bridge between academic thought and policy planning. The SPA strives to tackle complex issues with thoughtful research that educates, informs, and promotes change across a multitude of fields. It is also the home of the Political Theory Institute, a JMC partner program that encourages the serious study of the great questions of political theory and brings insights of political theorists to bear on current issues and events.

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