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Democracy conference convenes on Thursday

Researchers from America and UK will discuss and debate history
Apr 21, 2010
By Bridget Coughlin

On Thursday, the George Washington Forum on American Ideas, Politics & Institutions at Ohio University will host the major international conference  "Making Democracy: Violence, Politics and the American Founding."

Scholars will be coming to Athens from across North America and the United Kingdom. Featured speakers include Jessica Roney, history instructor, Peter Onuf  of the University of Virginia, Patrick Griffin of  the University of Notre Dame, T.H. Breen of Northwestern University, Andrew Cayton  of Miami University, and David Hendrickson of Colorado College.

The conference is being organized by Robert Ingram, professor and history department chair, and Brian Schoen history professor. Ingram said this conference is a great opportunity for students to learn more about American democracy.

?The purpose of the Washington Forum, in general and in this conference more specifically, is to enhance the civic education of students here at Ohio University,? he said. ?We are holding this "Making Democracy" conference because one of the central issues facing Washington and his fellow founders was violence. Democratic nations have seldom been created in times of peace, and the United States was no exception. Violence and fears of violence indelibly shaped the thought and political calculations of the founding generation in ways that we often forget.?

Ingram said that the conference will also discuss the issue of liberal democracy and whether or not it can be forcibly imposed on a people.

"Most, I suspect, accept the idea that peace is the default setting of liberal democracies and that coercion and self-government are anathema," Ingram said. "I'm not certain that either of these holds true, but I do know that few liberal democracies are or ever have been created or secured without violence."
   
The conference is funded in part by a grant from the 1804 Fund but also by grants from two private foundations, The Jack Miller Center for Teaching America's Founding Principles & History and the Veritas Fund for Higher Education Reform. The George Washington Forum on American Ideas, Politics and Institutions exists in Ohio University?s Department of History.

The conference is the first of a series of planned conferences the Washington Forum will hold on "Problems in American and Western History."

Ingram said the aim of these conferences is to consider important themes in the history of America and Western civilization on their own terms. The proceedings of each will be turned into books.

 

Published: Apr 21, 2010 4:28 PM

 
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