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Phronesis: A New Program in Politics and Ethics

Have you ever wondered what justice is?  Or the nature of freedom? Did you once read Plato or Machiavelli or Jefferson and begin to think about the power of the political authority and its effect on your life and happiness? Did Tocqueville perhaps spur you to consider the character of democracy, the problem of individualism, or the proper relation between politics and religion? 

These kinds of fundamental texts and questions will be the focus of a new program of studies in Politics and Ethics established by The Honors College in collaboration with the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. The program’s name, Phronesis, is the Greek word for prudence or practical wisdom, the quality distinctive of good citizens and political leaders. Drawing on the foundation provided by the Honors gateway course, The Human Situation, the curriculum aims to attract high-achieving undergraduates interested in issues of ethics and politics, to give them a strong foundation in classic texts that address these issues, and to prepare them to be leaders and citizens of a self-governing political society. 

The new program is housed in The Honors College as an interdisciplinary minor, established with the cooperation of faculty in political science, philosophy, and classical studies. Students of any major can choose from a variety of courses in political theory, philosophy, and classics to qualify for a minor in Politics and Ethics.

We are very excited about this new opportunity for students to investigate central issues of ethics and politics and to deepen their understanding of the texts and questions to which they have been introduced in The Human Situation course. Interested students should contact the program’s director, Professor Susan Collins, or Honors College academic advisor, Andy Little, for further information.