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Grant number: AQ-50728-12

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AQ-50728-12

St. Mary's University of San Antonio (San Antonio, TX 78228-5433)
Glenn Hughes (Project Director: 09/21/2011 to present)
Megan Mustain (Co Project Director: 05/04/2016 to present)

NEH Enduring Questions Course on "What Is Human Dignity?"

The development of an undergraduate course to explore the question, What is human dignity?

Glenn Hughes and Megan Mustain, professors of philosophy at St. Mary's University, develop a course open to all undergraduates on the question, What is human dignity? The course invites students to reflect on the significance of the idea of human dignity as one that is both ubiquitous in the public discourse of our time and also intimately linked to the Catholic liberal arts tradition that informs the vision and culture of St. Mary's University. It is structured around four historical periods: classical, medieval and Renaissance, Enlightenment, and modern/contemporary. The first section raises the central issue of whether dignity should be identified with wealth, status, pleasure, and the trappings of power - and if not, with what characteristics or capacities it should be associated. The second section turns to medieval and Renaissance conceptions of human dignity. In the third section, modern secular articulations of the meaning of human dignity come to the foreground. In the fourth section, students explore how recent political crises have brought the question of human dignity to prominence in various contemporary artistic, political, philosophical and religious responses to it. Readings for the course include the book of Job, Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, Christine de Pizan's Book of the City of Ladies, Pico della Mirandola's Oration on the Dignity of Man, Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Martha Nussbaum's Women and Human Development, and Gabriel Marcel's "Techniques of Degradation." To complement the readings, two documentaries, "Eyes on the Prize" and "Shoah," stimulate student discussions about human rights and human dignity.

Project fields:
Interdisciplinary Studies, General

Program:
Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants

Division:
Education Programs

Total amounts:
$24,992 (approved)
$19,883 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2013 – 6/30/2015