Peter Berkowitz & The Failure of American Higher Education

Peter Berkowitz is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, he has written an opinion article for the Wall St. Journal expounding how Political Science departments throughout American Universities have abdicated in their responsibilities to form men and women to understand American Exceptionalism.

Dr. Berkowitz writes that “for the better part of two generations, the best political science departments have concentrated on equipping students with skills for performing empirical research and teaching mathematical models that purport to describe political affairs.  Leading Universities emphasize social history and issues of race, class, and gender at the expense of constitutional history, diplomatic history and military history.  All to the detriment of the American Founding and this great Republic.

Neither professors of political science nor of history have made a priority of instructing students in the founding principals of American constitutional government.  Nor have they taught about the contest between the progressive vision and the conservative vision that has characterized American politics since Woodrow Wilson.  Instead, we have proliferating classes in practical ethics and moral reasoning.  Exposing graduate students to hypothetical conundrums involving surreal circumstances or the present contentious public policy debates that dominate ‘inside-the-beltway’ thinking.  All such exercises may sharpen a students ability to argue.  THEY DO LITTLE TO TEACH ABOUT SELF GOVERNMENT!

Such institutions certainly do not teach about the virtues, or qualities or mind and character, that enable citizens to shoulder their political responsibilities and prosper amidst the opportunities and uncertainties that freedom brings.  Nor do they teach the beliefs, practices and associates that foster such virtue, and those that endanger them.”

Dr. Berkowitz emphasizes the growing enormity that is becoming American higher education.  Given our contemporary challenges, we need institutions that form men and women to understand and defend the governing structures that dominate our Republic.  How else to put it?

Failings of American higher education will resound in the character and strength of this great Republic.


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About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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