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Grant number: AQ-50761-12

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AQ-50761-12

Emory University (Atlanta, GA 30322-1018)
Ann Hartle (Project Director: 09/21/2011 to present)

NEH Enduring Questions Course on "What Is Civility?"

The development of an undergraduate philosophy course on the question, What is civility?

Ann Hartle, a professor of philosophy with a specialty in the early modern period, develops an introductory course on the idea of civility, "placing it within the context of the social bond in modern liberal societies." Recognizing that the concept was "presupposed in pre-modern life," Professor Hartle argues that civility became a fully articulated problem "with the advent of liberal society, that is, with the origins of the freedom of the individual to pursue the good life in his own way." She also notes that the "meaning of civility depends upon the kind of unity and the level of diversity that a given society seeks to enjoy." The course addresses the problem through a series of related questions about the nature of the social bond, especially in democratic societies; the difficulties of civility in a multicultural and religiously plural society; the role of education in fostering civility; and the relationship between citizenship and civility. The first unit of the course, on pre-modern forms of civility, is based on close readings of Aristotle's Politics and Josef Pieper's Leisure, the Basis of Culture; the latter focuses on the importance of education, study, and contemplation for civilized life in ancient and Christian cultures. The second unit, on civility in early modern philosophy, considers essays by Montaigne and Rousseau's The Social Contract, which provide classic formulations about the roles of individual freedom and religion in social and civil life. Professor Hartle states that she will probably add recent works on religion and civility to this unit during the course development phase. The third unit, on contemporary problems of civility, utilizes Michael Oakeshott, On Human Conduct, and Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony, Solidarity, which address distinctions between varieties of human association and propose alternative conceptions of liberal society. In addition to standard classroom activities and assignments, the students plan and conduct discussion sessions for the university community.

[Grant products][Media coverage]

Project fields:
Philosophy, General

Program:
Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants

Division:
Education Programs

Total amounts:
$25,000 (approved)
$24,883 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2012 – 4/30/2015