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New interim course on conservative philosophy

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w course that will be offered during Interim of 2019. Taught by philosophy professor Edmund Santurri, the course will explore several key principles of conservative philosophy through a historical lens.

The central question of the course will be to analyze two different views of conservatism throughout history – traditionalism and classical liberalism – and to understand how these two ideas come together to form modern conservatism.

The course will utilize the writings and teachings of many thinkers from history, such as Edmund Burke, Adam Smith and Alexis de Tocqueville. Analyzing primary and secondary source writings, students will use the varying ideas of these scholars to gain a better understanding of what conservatism has meant throughout history and how that has affected the modern view of conservatism today.

Santurri believes that the idea of conservatism should be emphasised more in collegiate institutions.

“I think, that with respect to conservatism as a philosophy, it doesn’t get a lot of thought in academia,” he said. “There isn’t much reflection on what conservatism means. I’ve always been interested in teaching and exploring things that aren’t considered all that much in the academic environment.”

While allowing students to engage with the two views of conservatism, this course will also analyze the context of these ideas in American history.

“Two different groups came together in America and saw a common enemy in Communism,” Santurri said. “This is how traditionalists and classical liberals came together and how we now see this political party which we call ‘conservatives.’”

According to Santurri, another central question of the course is if this package of traditionalism and classical liberalism makes sense. In essence, what is the philosophical coherence of this view? In looking at the traditionalist views of Edmund Burke and the classical liberal views of John Locke or Adam Smith, Santurri believes it is possible to tie together a coherent meaning behind the modern American idea of conservatism.

“The goal of the course is to build upon the views of these figures and these positions and to analyze how these views come together to fuse into a coherent political package today,” Santurri said.

Charles Taliaferro, chair of the philosophy department, agrees with Professor Santurri on the importance of engaging students with conservative philosophies in regard to the modern political climate.

“Conservative tradition is not widely represented in many courses,” Taliaferro said.“It is a very timely course to offer due to the current liberal versus conservative divide.”

Taliaferro believes this course has much to offer students.

“Conservatism brings a broader philosophical perspective to the current political climate,” Taliaferro said.

He also believes in an emphasis of conservative philosophy with regards to American history. Several key figures, such as George Washington and John Adams, maintained uniquely conservative ideals on how America should be built, which the course will expand upon.

In understanding the philosophies of traditionalism and classical liberalism, the context within American history, and modern conservative beliefs, Taliaferro thinks students will be able to better analyze the ideas surrounding conservatism.

“It is important for students to understand this different yet widely and historically popular philosophy,” Taliaferro said.

Santurri is the director of The Institute for Freedom and Community, which he said aims to promote conversations which give voice to many different perspectives.

“If the Institute is interested in balanced conversation, conservative views must also be mentioned,” Santurri said.