ASU’s role in growing new leaders
The Arizona Republic
14 Sep 2017
Amid our polarized politics and angry public debates, perhaps now more than ever, we may appreciate the value of well-rounded leaders who possess hindsight, foresight and a firm understanding of America’s national ideals and position in an increasingly interconnected world.
As Americans, we have an exceptional intellectual heritage and history of innovation from which our leaders, including educational ones, should be drawing and imparting knowledge. Our nation’s founders revolutionized the world by creating a new government, economy and society. That combination remains the ideal for billions around the globe.
There are myriad lessons to be learned from these political giants, and from the philosophers and thinkers they studied — as well as from the complicated trajectory of our country’s efforts to bring practice into line with principle.
Yet, to date, no U.S. academic institution has fully leveraged this legacy in its programming and purpose to prepare forward-thinking leaders with a deep appreciation for our fundamental principles. Moreover, studies show that knowledge of basic civic facts and principles also is dangerously deficient, and that confidence in America’s public institutions and leading professions is at record lows.
That’s why we launched Arizona State University’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. The school will function as a national hub of teaching, scholarship and public engagement about leadership and statesmanship, civic and constitutional thought, and political economy.
Our courses will provide this fall’s inaugural cohort of students with fundamental ideas and debates of civic and economic thought as the basis for critical and adaptive thinking. When they study important intellectual works with lessons learned from great American leaders, we hope they will take this knowledge to prepare for their possible leadership roles in civil society and as future statesmen and stateswomen.
This first-of-its-kind school, which will offer an undergraduate major and minor with a top-notch faculty and visiting fellows, will also conduct research, produce scholarly writing and provide community outreach through lectures, forums and other events related to public policy issues.
Both the mission and curriculum of the school have been shaped by an advisory board of preeminent scholars — from Harvard, Stanford, Notre Dame, and the American Enterprise Institute — as well as by ASU’s senior educational leaders.
We expect the school’s curriculum and busy schedule of guest speakers will generate renewed attention to, and debate about, America’s constitutional principles, free-market ideals and the value of free expression and intellectual diversity.
We envision the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership as a valuable asset for our state. And more: We expect our graduates to send a ripple effect far beyond our state’s borders by providing principled leadership, grounded in deep knowledge of our nation’s character.
Our motto is, “Inspiring Leadership and Statesmanship for the Common Good.” That might sound old-fashioned, but amid the unprecedented complexities of our globe and our acrimonious politics, we see this as a new approach to develop a new breed of leaders — armed with historical insight, based on American principle, and ready for the bracing demands of the 21st century.
Paul Carrese is the founding director of ASU’s new School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.