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Center for Teaching of America’s Western Foundations Center
to Hold Tocqueville Conference at Mercer

March 31, 2011

Media Contact: Mark Vanderhoek, (478) 301-4037,

MACON — Mercer’s Center for the Teaching of America’s Western Foundations will hold its fourth annual Conference on Great Books and Ideas April 6 and 7 on the University’s Macon campus. The conference is centered around Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and includes keynote addresses from two well-known experts on America’s founding and Tocqueville in particular, Dr. Peter Lawler of Berry College, who will deliver the opening lecture April 6, and Dr. Harvey Mansfield of Harvard University, who will deliver the closing lecture April 7.

“In Dr. Mansfield, we are fortunate to have one of the world’s foremost historians of political thought. Our student-faculty reading group this semester used his definitive translation of Democracy in America,” said Dr. Will R. Jordan, associate professor of political science, director of the Great Books Program and co-director of Center for the Teaching of America’s Western Foundations. “Around Dr. Mansfield, we have assembled some of the leading lights in Tocqueville scholarship, not just in the Southeast but the nation, including Dr. Lawler, whom we are honored to have open our conference.

“It is hard to imagine a better line-up to help us study and appreciate this truly remarkable and timeless book,” Dr. Jordan said.

Dr. Lawler, the Dana Professor of Government at Berry, will speak at 6 p.m. in Newton Chapel on “Tocqueville’s Relevance Today: Individualism and Soft Despotism.” He is an expert on Tocqueville; author of The Restless Mind, a study of Tocqueville’s political thought; and served on the editorial board of the new bilingual critical edition of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Dr. Lawler has written or edited 14 other books and serves on the editorial boards of several journals and as executive editor of the journal Perspectives on Political Science.

The conference resumes April 7 in Connell Conference Room 1 with a panel of student presentations from 10 to 11:45 a.m. and two faculty panels, the first from 1 to 2:30 p.m., the second, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. For a full schedule of presenters, go to

Dr. Mansfield will deliver the conference’s closing lecture, titled “Tocqueville on what Religion Contributes to Liberty,” at 6 p.m. in Newton Chapel on April 7. He serves as the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Government at Harvard and studies and teaches political philosophy. Dr. Mansfield has written on Edmund Burke and the nature of political parties, on Machiavelli and the invention of indirect government, in defense of a defensible liberalism and in favor of a Constitutional American political science. He has also written on the discovery and development of the theory of executive power, and has translated three books of Machiavelli’s, as well as Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. His most recent book is Manliness.

About the Mercer Center for the Teaching of America’s Western Foundations
Mercer’s Center for the Teaching of America’s Western Foundations seeks to provide a new generation of citizens with knowledge of, and appreciation for, the founding principles, values and history of our nation. The Great Books of the West were the education of the American Founders, and America’s freedom and prosperity fundamentally come from the ideas, values, and principles that the Founders’ Great Books explore. To that end, the Center seeks to promote the study and teaching of these foundational works and strengthen the knowledge and understanding of the cultural-intellectual inheritance of America. Mercer is one of a select few colleges or universities in the country and the only one in Georgia that has a Great Books of Western Civilization program as part of its general education curriculum. The Center complements this curriculum with programs including lecture series and campus conferences, and seeks to reinforce the importance of traditional liberal-arts education.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,200 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit
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