Thursday, November 20, 2014

Great Summer Study Opportunities (with stipends)

The Hertog Foundation is asking professors at AU to nominate students for its Political Studies Program in Washington, DC.  These are some great opportunities to study during the summer with good professors from other institutions, and all the programs come with stipends for participates or (in the case of the Political Studies Program) for some participants.  If you are interested, please talk to Dr. Foster.

The first program is the Political Studies Program, which will take place from June 21 – August 1, 2015 in Washington, DC. This program is geared to current undergraduates and very recent graduates. Many of the same outstanding faculty will be teaching in the program this year, including Bryan Garsten (Yale), James W. Ceaser (University of Virginia), Diana Schaub (Loyola), and Robert Kagan (Brookings Institution), to name just a few. Selected students will receive a $3,000 fellowship stipend for their participation and be provided with dormitory accommodations.

In addition, there is a second set of more specialized programs -- War Studies and Economic Policy Studies. These are intensive two-week summer seminars sponsored in conjunction with the Institute for the Study of War and National Affairs, respectively. They will be held in Washington, DC. Each carries its own stipend of $1,500 as well as dormitory accommodations.

Finally, Hertog has two weeklong offerings -- Advanced Institutes -- which are geared toward undergraduates, recent graduates, and graduate students. These programs come with a $750 stipend, plus room and board.

  • The Political Thought of Abraham Lincoln with Allen C. Guelzo
    • August 2–7, 2015, in partnership with the New-York Historical Society

  • The Lessons of the Iraq War with Vance Serchuk
    • August 9–15, Washington, DC

The deadline for applications for all programs is February 9, 2015. Further information can be found the Hertog Foundation's website (  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Remembrance Day at Gettysburg

Last weekend, a group of AU students, most of them in Dr. Paddags' course on Democracy & War, descended on Gettysburg to study the most pivotal and most famous battle of the Civil War. While temperatures were chilly and the wind blustery, everyone gave presentations on the participants of the Civil War - from Robert E. Lee and Henry Halleck, to Elizabeth Thorn and Abraham Lincoln. Through the eyes of their characters, the history of the battle unfolded for the students. Moreover, by walking the battlefield everyone got a sense of the dimensions of the battlefield, the terrain, and an appreciation for the valor of the men who fought that battle 151 years ago. As last weekend was also Remembrance Day at Gettysburg, hundreds of reenactors paraded through town, waving civil war flags, marching in formation, and playing civil war era songs. At night, the national cemetery was illuminated by a candle on every soldier's grave, making for a solemn reminder of the sacrifice  which was made on those three days in July, 1863.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Latin Should be Required

If even half the arguments in this article in the New Criterion are correct, the best thing we could do for our students is require that they all study Latin: 
Specifically, it trains these: the ability to concentrate and focus; the use of the memory; the capacity to analyse, deduce and problem-solve; the powers of attention to detail, of diligence and perseverance, of observation, of imagination, of judgement, of taste. In fact, it trains the mind and character to the utmost extent in everything human that is valuable. It does all this as no other academic subject (other than classical Greek), or other activity of any kind at all, can come remotely close to doing.
There is much more in the article, including replies to some of the main contemporary objections: 

Later in this issue, the Yale classicist Donald Kagan writes about Sir James Headlam-Morley, the man who occupied the position of Historical Adviser to the British Foreign Office in the 1920s. Headlam-Morley was a fount of good advice about all manner of strategic issues, not least the threat of German militarism. Headlam-Morley’s deep acquaintance with the past allowed him to predict the future with a gimlet-eyed clarity that, unfortunately for the world, most of those charged with steering the ship of state in the post-World War I years lacked. Headlam-Morley, Professor Kagan observes, was “a man with the only proper training for an expert in almost any field of human endeavor, but especially for the conduct of foreign policy and diplomacy: I mean, of course, Classical Studies.”
We smiled when we read that, too. The “of course” was especially nice. A more charming example of disciplinary chauvinism would be hard to find. Except that it is more than disciplinary chauvinism. It is also the simple, pragmatic truth.
It is a truth whose practicality the industrialist and oil man Jean Paul Getty appreciated. Getty, widely reckoned to be the richest man in the world until his death in 1976, employed only classicists to run his worldwide business empire. He understood that mastery of (say) the passive periphrastic was a more important business qualification than an MBA. (Pecunia obtinenda est!) It wasn’t romance but competitiveness that underlay his decision. Asked why he insisted on employing classicists in key positions, he answered bluntly: “They sell more oil.”

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

AU in Germany Information Meetings

It is easy to spend part of your summer taking Core courses and experiencing modern Europe by participating in the AU in Germany program.  Learn how at meetings on November 11th and 12th.  Here are the details:

Friday, October 31, 2014

Mariah Halleck - Intern of the Month

Congratulations to Political Science major and History minor Mariah Helleck, who is AU's Intern of the Month for October.  Mariah completed her internship this summer serving with U.S. Senator Rob Portman in Washington D.C. Mariah offers this advice to students considering internships: "Even if it is something you are unsure of, just do it. Being on your own in the real world is a lot different than being alone at college. I think it's a growing and learning experience that every student should take advantage of." 

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Nice Case for Civic Literacy

Joseph Knippenberg of Oglethorpe University makes a good case at the Library of Law and Liberty website for civic literacy based on the idea that if you don't know how to do something, you can't do the thing. The issue is what knowledge is needed to be a self-governing citizen. Surveys suggest that the more people know about their government, how it works, its history, the arguments for and against it, the more likely they are to be engaged and active citizens. And it makes sense, because if you don't understand how our polity works, how can you participate in it?

After discussing one of the surveys which asked various questions about American history and government, Knippenberg writes that "one could question the “relevance” of these factual details for contemporary American civic life. Students might defend themselves by saying that they’ll never “use” this information. Perhaps not. In any case, if they don’t know it, they surely won’t use it, even if they need it. There’s a good argument for their needing it, and it’s this: In general, the more you know, the more active as a citizen you’re likely to be. In other words, the more you know, the more you’re likely to use what you know."

"I often contend that a liberal education is an education befitting a free human being, one who can think for himself or herself and who is as unlikely as possible to be, in effect, a “slave” to an ideology or a gull for a charlatan’s argument. Thinking for oneself, a prerequisite for this kind of human freedom, is no mere technical skill. It isn’t just about having a sharp, logical mind. It requires some content, some familiarity with the kinds of arguments people make and with the facts and narratives on the basis of which they make them. In other words, a liberal education that has as its goal self-government (in our case, “republican self-government”) requires some knowledge of the republic in which our self-governing takes place."

Highest Paying Majors?

Here is a summary of an interesting analysis of Census Bureau data done to find out which college majors earned the most and the least. The result? Median lifetime earnings of bachelor's degree graduates are higher across all majors than median earnings of high school graduates. But of course different degrees earn varying amounts, with engineering, finance, and science at the top end and art, music, and language at the bottom. But what is even more interesting is that "the range of earnings within each major is wide — about as wide as the spread ... in different majors. Put another way, a person at the 90th percentile for childhood education majors (where average earnings are on the low end) will quite handily outearn someone at the 10th percentile of computer engineering majors (where average earnings are at the high end). In fact, at the 90th percentile, people with only a high school degree outearn any college majors at the 10th percentile."

So, the article concludes, the "real message in these data is your college major is not your destiny. It takes some amount of grit to make it anywhere. Smart choices about which skills to acquire will get you some, but not all, of the way there." The article has some nifty charts and graphs. Political science apparently does better than history, and when graduate degrees are taken into account, the median earnings of people with political science degrees is higher than the median earnings of those with architecture or nursing degrees, which puts them just below the top earners comprised of engineers, scientists, construction services, and economists.