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Scholars Workshop with Luke Foster

  • Abigail Adams Institute Office 14 Arrow Street Cambridge, MA USA (map)

Separated Powers in the Democratic Soul: Plato, Tocqueville, Dewey and Babbitt on Liberal Learning.

This dissertation undertakes to investigate a paradox of democracy: the recurrent emergence of elites in societies founded upon the sovereignty of the people. I will argue that the practical question becomes one of how to form the elite most capable of providing responsible leadership towards the common good. The formation of leaders is a task for education—considered both in the broad sense of the practices that are encouraged in political life and in the specific sense of pedagogy. To fail to train leaders correctly is either to slide into a despotic mediocrity or to allow a haughty upper caste to govern in its own interest. This project focuses on the historical reforms of American higher education in the late nineteenth-century, when the German-style research university came to the United States. It is very much at an initial stage, so critical engagement and suggestions are encouraged.