The 2017 spring semester continuing education class, “The Culture and Politics of the 1960s,” at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) concluded on a note of resounding success. The class drew a record number of participants and featured wide-ranging discussions on a pivotal decade in American history, one that continues to intrigue scholars a half century later. AHI Resident Fellow Dr. David Frisk led class discussions on topics that stirred the public imagination and dominated the political arena, topics such as civil rights, the Vietnam War, environmentalism, and the feminist movement.
The course also featured three scholars who shared their research and knowledge related to the period. Dr. Maurice Isserman, Publius Virgilius Rogers Professor of History at Hamilton College, gave a guest lecture as both a scholar of the era and participant in the New Left and anti-war movements. Dr. Frank Price, a professor of biology, discussed the environmental movement. Resident Fellow Dr. Mary Grabar shared some of the research she is conducting for her book on George Schuyler, a prominent black conservative critic of the era.
Dr. Frisk, author of If Not Us, Who?, the highly regarded biography of National Review publisher William Rusher, an important figure in the 1960s and beyond, brought depth and range to the topic in his lectures. He compiled a thick packet of readings, both primary and secondary sources, and provided each participant with Professor Isserman’s co-authored textbook, America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s, now in its fifth edition.
The AHI has as one of its core missions educational outreach to the area’s citizens in order to elevate the debate about crucial issues, past and present. Undergraduates who have attended these classes have commented on benefits of listening to and engaging senior adults who bring an impressive array of skills and experience to the discussions. In looking back, Frisk said, “This course was perhaps the most diverse one we’ve had in terms of subject matter, while the interest among participants was as high as ever. There’s a special excitement in teaching and examining a wide range of developments we ourselves lived through.”
Dr. Frisk is already planning his course for the fall. The topic: “Abraham Lincoln: Man and Myth.”
By Mary Grabar, AHI Resident Fellow
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