On June 8-9 the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) in Austin, Texas, hosted a “Western Civilization Summit” that featured five scholars associated with the independent Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI).
AHI Academic Advisor Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, delivered the keynote address on Monday evening. Panel I, “Why Teach the West,” on Tuesday morning featured as moderator AHI Director Stephen Balch, director of The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization at Texas Tech University. Speakers for the first session included AHI Academic Advisor Paul Rahe, Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in the Western Heritage at Hillsdale College and AHI Charter Fellow Robert Paquette. AHI Academic Advisor Richard Vedder, Edwin and Ruth Kennedy Distinguished Professor of Economics at Ohio University, spoke on the afternoon panel “How to Create More Western Civilization Programs.”
To view the panel “Why Teach the West,” please click here.
TPPF, a 501(c)3 non-profit, non-partisan research institute, seeks “to promote and defend liberty, personal responsibility, and free enterprise in Texas and the nation by educating and affecting policymakers and the Texas public policy debate with academically sound research and outreach. Under the leadership of Preside Brooke Rawlins, TPPF, according to the Texas Tribune, has become a major player state politics, especially with proposals to lower property taxes. In February, TPPF completed its new headquarters a six-story, 40,000-plus-square-foot building, located near the Texas State Capitol. A standing-room only crowd packed the Joe B. Hogsett Theater to listen to the panelists who were also livestreamed to a larger audience.
Paquette devoted his remarks to why the teaching of Western civilization should remain at the center of a liberal arts curriculum, extending points expressed in the AHI’s charter about the momentous origin and flourishing in Western culture of freedom, democracy, and capitalism. He drew on his thirty-five year career at Hamilton College to “understand the rather remarkable process by which the unum of a civic culture that once stood as a beacon light to the rest of the world was pushed to the margin by an academic vanguard, to be replaced by a pluribusof lavishly funded activist workshops, programs, and studies populated by professors, most of whom have a sneering contempt for American exceptionalism.” In speaking of capitalism, Paquette underscored the momentousness for the world of the West’s breakout from Malthusian cycles into self-sustained economic growth in the late eighteenth century. In Western Europe, GDP per person, Paquette observed, if plotted on a graph, would look essentially like a flat line “from 1000 AD to 1445, when Gutenberg invented the printing press, ascending thereafter into a very modest slope until about the time of Jefferson’s presidency when the line spikes as if shot through the roof.”
During Tuesday’s luncheon, the Honorable Kent Hance, Chancellor Emeritus, Texas Tech University, provided an engaging and humorous power point presentation on “The Impact of Western Civilization. Ninety-seven percent of the world’s leading scientific discoveries, Hance noted, “have happened in Europe or North America. . . . Of the 214 most notable inventions since 1415, all were created in the West.”
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