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Why Study Public Policy?

Perhaps not since the 1930s has there been such a crisis of confidence in the public realm. To some extent, the crisis is a problem of definition. In sharp contrast to the ancient and early republican experience, where religious, ethnic, or familial institutions shouldered much of the responsibility for shaping the public arena, contemporary study and practice has increasingly turned to the federal government. In the process, solutions that are merely analytic often have become increasingly technocratic and progressively intrusive. Well-meaning leaders have weakened such traditional agencies as churches, synagogues, and mosques, as well as business and labor associations, nonprofit organizations, local schools, and families.

Pepperdine has chosen to reintroduce into the public sector the time-tested concepts and values that have nourished traditions of morality, civic community, and family. These values have underpinned most republican societies since antiquity, and they constituted core concerns for our nation’s founders.

This approach does not imply a blind or unquestioning endorsement of either of the two great traditions that have dominated public philosophy throughout the past century—progressive liberalism or conservatism. Our purpose, instead, is to re-center the argument about public policy upon those values that upheld the formation of our republic and can again serve as beacons both at home and abroad as we navigate the incredible potential that is your future.


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