Tom Kelly, JMC Academic Initiatives Associate, led a discussion this month on “Civic Renewal and Higher Education” with graduate and undergraduate students at the Ryan Center at Villanova.
Drawing on an article by Professor James Ceaser of UVA, Mr. Kelly asked whether civic education can properly include education both to “preserve” and “transform the regime.” Most agreed that civic education must have foundations deeper than simply the cause of the moment. The conversation then focused on the particular role of colleges and universities. Should higher education adopt the civic role formerly held by churches, clubs, and other traditional voluntary associations in order to strengthen civic participation? Students seemed wary and uncertain that traditional association could be revitalized. In spite of the group’s diverse views, everyone agreed that knowledge of the “principles of freedom” was essential to any movement for civic renewal.