This month, Associate Professor of Political Science Ben Berger discussed "The New Golden Age: Citizenship Education & the Liberal Arts," as part of the Second Tuesday Social Sciences Cafe series. In his talk, Berger says that too often proponents of civic or citizenship education do not think through very clearly what they mean by "civic" or "citizenship," nor reflect adequately on what education can and should actually produce.
If citizenship is a broad and evolving concept -- one that incorporates ethics, cultural pluralism, interpersonal relationships, and scientific literacy -- then Berger says it can be seen as residing not just in a few departments, but across the liberal arts curriculum. And when higher education is understood as equipping students with capacities and capabilities rather than producing some known end -- whether virtuous citizens, professional scholars, or productive businesspeople -- he says the liberal arts could, with innovations such as curricular mapping and capstone "action" courses, preside over citizenship education in far more meaningful ways than in the oft-nostalgized past.
Berger, an associate professor of political science, focuses his research on the intersection between normative political theory and empirical political science. His current projects include a book on civic education and another on moral engagement and disengagement, which spans the fields of political philosophy, social psychology, and cognitive neuroscience. Berger also directs the College's Engaging Democracy Project and works with the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility. For his community-based learning pedagogy and research, he was selected by the civic education consortium Project Pericles as one of 26 Periclean Faculty Leaders nationwide.
Sponsored by the Aydelotte Foundation, Second Tuesday Social Sciences Cafes are monthly events that encourage faculty and staff to come together for a light lunch and learning. Events are geared for individuals with no formal background in the social sciences. The only requirement is curiosity.