Discourse in Democracy
Discourse in Democracy is a series of events designed to engage undergraduate students in political and philosophical debate about today’s most important issues. Discourse in Democracy provides opportunities for students to become more deeply involved in their Texas State community by offering lectures and seminars by keynote speakers, chances to collaborate with professors, other students, and prominent professionals in the field at the federal, state, and local levels. We will tackle issues that matter most to students, and you can be a part of the solution by participating in our lecture series. The Department of Political Science invites all students to join in the discussion as we work to understand and solve our country’s greatest challenges.
Recent Events in Discourse in Democracy
Constitution Day 2021
On Wednesday, September 15th, nearly 300 students, staff, and faculty attended Discourse in Democracy’s annual “Constitution Day” lecture. This year’s speaker, Dr. William B. Allen, is Emeritus Dean of James Madison College and Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Michigan State University and has been a member of the Mackinac Center Board of Scholars since 1995. Additionally, Dr. Allen is a former member and chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and has been a Kellogg National Fellow, Fulbright Fellow, and a member of the National Council on the Humanities.
Dr. Allen’s lecture, “The Constitution as Critical History,” was addressed to fundamental questions about the constitution including its origins, its role in ordering American political life, the role of negotiation and consensus in constitutional change, and its relationship to the institution of slavery.
In addition to the lecture, Dr. Allen hosted a seminar for two dozen political science majors focusing on George Washington’s “Rules of Civility.” The discussion focused on why Washington believed these rules were important, the nature of and importance of good character, and its relevance to today.
Mofe Abiodun, a political science student who attended the lecture, called it “very informative,” and said that it was “interesting to hear Dr. Allen’s analysis concerning the Constitution.” Prof. Casey Wheatland, who also attended the lecture, called Dr. Allen “a masterful speaker,” noting that “few share the insight into the Constitution that he demonstrated.” Of the seminar, MA student Jordan Hobbs said that Dr. Allen “was a great teacher” who “made interesting points.” Another student who attended the seminar noted that Dr. Allen “kept the entire classroom engaged” and “drew out fascinating conclusions from the document about not only George Washington’s character but the ethics of character in general.”
The department’s Constitution Day activities were made possible by a generous grant from the Jack Miller Center for Teaching America’s Founding Principles and History. Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is an American federal observance recognizing the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become United States citizens by birth or naturalization.
Dr. Carl Richard on the Founding
On Wednesday evening, March 3, 2021, Discourse in Democracy hosted a talk by Dr. Carl Richard, a professor of history at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette who delivered a speech titled “The Founders on Religion, Morality and Republicanism.” The talk explored the founders' views on the role of religion in public life and the moral preconditions of republican government. The talk was followed by a question and answer period. 35 students attended the lecture in person while close to 200 others participated via zoom. Prior to the talk, Dr. Richard met informally over dinner with several students and faulty members.
The following morning, Dr. Richard presided over a seminar attended by two dozen undergraduate and graduate majors (some via zoom, others face-to-face) on “Classical and Biblical Influences on the American Founders.” The seminar was followed by a lunch that gave several students a chance to meet Dr. Richard in a formal setting.
John Flores, a graduate student in the department, described Dr. Richard’s lecture “captivating” commenting that it “highlighted a useful distinction between civic virtues, as provided by the classics, and personal virtue as provided by biblical teachings. Each of these seemed to have a profound effect on our country's founding.”
Professor Richard’s books include The Founders and the Classics: Greece, Rome, and the American Enlightenment (Harvard, 1994); The Golden Age of the Classics in America (Harvard, 2009); The Founders and the Bible (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016); and The Battle for the American Mind: A Brief History of a Nation's Thought (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004). His visit was funded by a grant from the Jack Miller Center.
Dr. Richard's March 3 lecture, “The Founders on Religion, Morality and Republicanism,” was recorded and can be watched online here: https://mediaflo.txstate.edu/hapi/v1/contents/permalinks/Rd64Hpb9/view.
Scholar speaks on US-Russia relations
Dr. Mark Pomar, a Security Fellow at the UT-Austin’s Clements Center for National Security, delivered a virtual talk to Texas State students about the state of U.S.-Russia relations in the new Biden Administration. Pomar has spent his career in academia, government, and the NGO sector and has working and living often in Russia. Drawing on his extensive experience in senior positions at Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Dr. Pomar talked about how Russia’s domestic political dynamics impact its actions abroad, and how Russia’s historical legacy shapes its interest in Eastern Europe.
Over 30 students and faculty were in attendance for Dr. Pomar's talk and had the chance to interact with him after the presentation. Graduate student Kaleb Kelly said "I really enjoyed hearing Mr. Pomar's expertise regarding Russia. I particularly enjoyed hearing about the psychology of the Russian people and where he sees Russia moving toward in the future."