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Grant number: AQ-51120-14

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AQ-51120-14

Linfield College (McMinnville, OR 97128-6894)
Nicholas Buccola (Project Director: 09/13/2013 to present)

NEH Enduring Questions Course on Concepts of Freedom in Philosophy, Law, Literature, and Theology

The development of an elective undergraduate course on ideas about freedom spanning Greek philosophy and early Christian theology to American thought and modern literature.

The development of an elective undergraduate course on ideas about freedom spanning Greek philosophy and early Christian theology to American thought and modern literature. Nicholas Buccola, a political science professor at Linfield College, develops a course that explores the ways freedom has been defined across a broad range of historical eras, cultures, philosophical perspectives, and genres. Buccola asks, What is freedom? Why do human beings want to be free? Should human beings be free? What sorts of political, economic, and social institutions are best suited to promote human freedom? What are the greatest obstacles to human freedom and can those obstacles be overcome? Responses to this enduring question come from writers as diverse as Plato (The Trial and Death of Socrates), Machiavelli (Discourses on Livy), St. Augustine (City of God), Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman), Henry David Thoreau (Walden), W. E. B. Du Bois (The Souls of Black Folk), James Baldwin (The Fire Next Time), Ayn Rand (Anthem), Drucilla Cornell (At the Heart of Freedom), and Jonathan Franzen (Freedom). In the work of these writers, students confront ideas about the political dimensions of freedom, threats to freedom posed by state or private power, and the existential perils of freedom. Students complete a writing assignment for each of three sections of the course, take active part in a regular online forum, lead discussion in class, and meet with the professor in small groups for peer-review writing workshops. The work plan includes preparatory reading as well as presentations at a campus-based series of faculty development meetings and at a topical discussion group and conference devoted to the teaching of interdisciplinary courses on "Ultimate Questions."

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Political Science, General; Political Theory; Western Civilization

Program:
Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants

Division:
Education Programs

Total amounts:
$22,000 (approved)
$19,101 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2014 – 12/31/2016