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Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (Cheyney, PA 19319-1019)
Jeffrey David Sapiro (Project Director: September 2010 to December 2014)
NEH Enduring Questions Course on "Why Be Just?"

The development of an undergraduate seminar on the question, Why be just?

This course, designed for undergraduates at a small, public, historically black university, considers the relation of social and political justice to individual choice and virtue by asking the question Why Be Just? Readings include extended selections from Plato's Republic, juxtaposed with works by Sophocles, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Shakespeare, Marx, Mill, Nietzsche and others. In the last weeks of the course students examine the United States Constitution in the context of the 1787 convention, and read a selection of African-American speeches and writings, from Frederick Douglass to Barack Obama, focusing on the relation between "being just" and democratic citizenship. By considering (arguably) the strongest case against democratic virtue in Western philosophy, students are called upon to engage deeply and critically with the core ideas of justice, citizenship and personhood inherent in our American foundation.

Project fields:

Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants

Education Programs

$25,000 (approved)
$18,360 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2011 – 5/31/2014