As our last class is quickly approaching, I started to reflect on what we have learned this semester. I thought about our discussion on what makes a faction and whether or not they are valuable according to Madison, Calhoun, Lincoln and Thoreau, our discussion on what makes a citizen according to Shklar, Douglas, and Tocquiville, and our analysis of Emeron’s Self-Reliance. Finally I came thought back to our first discussion about Civic Republicans and Classic Liberals. Throughout our semester we have continuously looked back to our first readings and have applied our analysis of what classifies a democracy as a Civic Republican and what makes a Classic Liberal to other authors and concepts. Since we have applied this analysis to everything else we have done in class, I felt it only fitting to look at our Political Science 307 class the same way. Would our class be classified as a Civic Republican or a Classic Liberal?
My vote is a Civic Republican and here’s why:
I think the most important characteristic that classifies something a Civic Republican is the emphasis on a participatory government. Unlike Classic Liberals who want a hands-off my back government where politicians are responsible for doing what they think is best for society, Civic Republicans encourage all its citizens to get involved in the government. This class’s professor Jennet Kirkpatrick and GSI Justin Williams do t the same thing. They encourage all of the class’s students to participate and contribute to our lecture in one-way or another.
Our lectures in Political Science 307 are somewhat non-traditional. Rather than having a professor stand up front and lecture to the class, students contribute a large amount and the lecture is run more like a giant discussion- just like a city hall meeting. While we are all individually graded through our “In Class Writing Assignments”, our contributions to class are aimed more at helping the class’s understanding of the material than our own understanding. Through our individual comments that are made during class we help the general welfare of the class by teaching them something. Even note taking in this class is meant to help the general public of the class (by having 2-3 students take turns taking notes for the entire class).
According to Kemmis the two ingredients for a revitalization of public is are “1.) A central concern with value, with standards of excellence, with what is good and 2.) A rigorous objectivity” (123). I think that this class meets those two requirements and as result has revitalized the way a lecture should be run. Students in this class share the central concern and standards of excellence through their drive to do well in this class and this success in the class is then objectively measured through ICWAS, blog posts, essays, and attendance.
Just like the community in Kemmis’s reading was working together to build a communal barn, students in Political Science 307 work together to build a successful class in which we all understand the texts.
As we learned on the first day of class American Political Theory is all about doing and thinking, which is exactly what we have done this last semester in Political Science 307. Through our readings and personal assignments we have thought about how society should be and through our participation in lecture we have implemented these thoughts into actions.