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Foundations of Civil Society

The purpose of this course is to explore, understand, and analyze some of the key principles, tensions, and values that are fundamental to almost every society, and learn how to engage in productive problem solving as citizens. The future of any free, just, and prosperous society depends on an intelligent, competent, civil, fair, and public-spirited citizenry. Consequently, this class is designed to enhance your capacity for rational thought and informed action-rather than simply test your ability to memorize facts-so that you will be able to more constructively engage in building your local, national, and global communities.

Course Outcomes

  • Be able analyze philosophical, ideological, and policy differences in political, economic, or social systems by identifying the advantages and values, as well as the vulnerabilities and flaws, of all sides.
  • Be able engage differences of opinion between citizens with clarity, charity, and respect while seeking common ground, explaining important personal convictions, accurately restating other perspectives, and achieving pragmatic solutions where possible.
  • Be able to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of various governmental and economic systems by identifying elements which may have a positive or negative effect upon freedom, order, prosperity, and/or security.
  • Be able to explain the philosophical origins and arguments of liberalism, democracy, capitalism, and socialism as well as the effects of war, poverty, inequality, civil disobedience, and revolution.
  • Be able to identify responsibilities and opportunities for meaningful engagement in their respective local, regional, national, and global communities.
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3.0 Credits






Fall, Winter, Spring