Civic Education Conference

Conference Proposal


Conference Theme: A conference on civic education and the current crisis in American higher education.

Conference Director:  Dr. Richard J. Bishirjian

Description: When campus riots hit American campuses in the mid-1960s through early 1970s, college administrators were confronted with a number of challenges.

Most did not respond with courage, nor in defense of order. Student thugs forced the closure of classes and other academic events and demands were made for racially segregated dormitories, student membership on college and department Boards, student evaluations of instructors, and removal of core curricular requirements.

The Academy’s analysis of what occurred argues that the decline began with the Great Depression.  Progressives who had entered Academe were given free rein and influenced changes in course content. Those changes wiped out classical, free market economics, from Economics course offerings and courses that formerly celebrated the philosophy of limited government of the Constitution now examined the economic interests of the Founding generation.. From 1932 to 1960 American higher education gradually saw a secularization and radicalization of the Social Sciences and the Humanities.

By this time, the Core Curriculum of required courses that was inherited from some distant past had become an artifact that most administrators continued from habit, but with no thought to content. When during the campus disturbances of the 60s and 70s, Core Curriculum requirements were challenged, university administrators appeased student rioters and introduced “cafeteria style” requirements..

From 1965 to the present day there has been a politicization of higher education that, when fully developed, became what James Piereson calls “the Left University.” Traditional and politically conservative scholars were remaindered, or denied entry, into degree programs and tenure track positions in University Departments, and a uniform politicization of the Social Sciences and Humanities occurred which is now called “Political Correctness.”

The purpose of this Conference is to assess what has been lost during this time-period and how Civic Education may be recovered in a process leading to reaffirmation of a Core Curriculum that fulfills the needs of citizens of a self-governing democracy.


Education for Responsible Citizenship

Date: July 8, 2016

Place: Cleveland, Ohio

Schedule:  9:15 am -4:45 PM

Dissemination:  Webcast and conference publication


(9:15)  Ashley Thorne–National Association of Scholars–

Core Curricula and Civic Education: A Comparison of 4 Universities-

University of Colorado at Boulder

Colorado State University

University of Northern Colorado

University of Wyoming.

(10:30)  Dr. Mark Kalthoff–From the Trivium and Quadrivium to the Core

Curriculum–Hillsdale College

(11:45) Dr. Peter Wood–The Anti-democratic Left and Civic Education (Peter Wood)– National Association of Scholars

(1:00) Dr. Vincent McGuire –Civic Education: Report from the Classroom–Colorado University-Boulder


(2:15)  Dr. Bradley C. S. Watson–Which Civic Education?, St. Vincent College

(3:30)  Dr. Richard Bishirjian– Civic Education vs. Civic Engagement–Is it Possible to Recover the Core?–American Academy of Distance Learning/Yorktown University.


Ashley Thorne is executive director of the National Association of Scholars. She received her master’s degree in linguistics from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2014, and her undergraduate degree in politics, philosophy, and economics from The King’s College in 2007. She is the lead author of several NAS studies, including Making Citizens (2015).

Mark Kalthoff holds the Henry Salvatori Chair in History and Traditional Values at Hillsdale College and serves as Chairman of the History Department. He earned the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in the History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University.  At Hilldale College he teaches courses on American and European political culture and the history and literature of liberal education.  His articles and reviews have been published in a number of academic journals including Isis, Faith & Reason, Continuity, Fides et Historia, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, and Philosophi Christi.

Peter Wood: Peter Wood is an anthropologist and former provost. He has served as president of the National Association of Scholars since January 2009 and was NAS’s executive director from 2007 to 2008. Dr. Wood was provost of The King’s College in New York City and a tenured member of the Anthropology Department at Boston University, where was associate Provost and chief of staff to Boston University’s president, Dr. John Silber. He is the author of Diversity-The Invention of a Concept (2004) and A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Today (2007).

Vincent McGuire is an instructor at the University of Colorado-Boulder where he teaches in the University’s Farrand Academic Program. HIs course on American Political Systems attempts to address the problem and consequences of lack of knowledge about fundamentals of American government. Dr. McQuire earned the Ph.D. in Politics from the University of Colorado.

Bradley C. S. Watson:  Dr. Watson is Professor of Politics, holding the Philip M. McKenna Chair in American and Western Political Thought at St. Vincent College and is Co-Director of the Center for Political and Economic Thought. He is also chairman of the Politics Department. He has published widely on the subject of Civic Education and Culture. He is the author of Civic Education and Culture (2005) and editor of Ourselves and Our Posterity (2009).

Richard Bishirjian: Dr. Bishirjian, President of Yorktown University,  earned the A.B. in Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh and a Ph.D. in Government and International Studies from the University of Notre Dame under the direction of Gerhart Niemeyer.  He did advanced study with Michael Oakeshott at the London School of Economics. He is the editor of A Public Philosophy Reader (1978) and author of The Development of Political Theory (1978), and The Conservative Rebellion (2015).

Conference Budget: 

Conference Staff $2,500 $2,500

Honoraria–6 x $1,500 $9,000   9,000

Meals –8 x $65 $   390     390

Box Lunch– 50 x $20: $1,000   1,000


Denver/Cleveland $   350

NY/CL x $353 x 2 $   650

Pgh/CL $   459

Norfolk/CL $   236

Hillsdale/CL $   480


Ground Travel

$75  x 2 x 6 $   900   900


Hotel–$225 x 6 $1.350 1,350

Advertising $5,000 5,000

Conference Room $   500

Webcast $2,000

Publication $2,500 2,500

Conference Office/Clerical

$500 x 4 $2,000 2,000


TOTAL                $29,300