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The Quest for Community Webinar Series

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A Future for American Conservatism

Event Details

Tuesday,  July 28, 2020
10:00 AM PDT / 1:00 PM EDT

Online Zoom Event 

 

 

For more information about this event, please email sppevents@pepperdine.edu, or call 310.506.7490.

American conservatism stands at a crossroads. Launched after the 2016 elections, the American Project is arguing for a reimagined communitarian conservatism (or a "conservatism of connection") in public policy and political rhetoric is the best way forward.

Originally planned as a summer conference here on our Malibu campus, "The Quest for Community: A Future for American Conservatism" has now transitioned to a series of webinars with leading thinkers, activists, and policymakers exploring the implications of renewing our appreciation for this long standing tradition in conservative thought and policy. Deriving our title from the late sociologist Robert Nisbet's foundational book, The Quest for Community, this series will discuss the current day implications of this work—what it means for today's policy and politics.

Webinar 2

How Decadence and the Administrative State Weaken Community

With Heather Mac Donald, Christopher Caldwell, and Ted McAllister

The "quest for community" has always been challenged by particular views of "expertise," and a decline in active civic participation. It is what Tocqueville dubbed the "immense tutelary state." The particular threats to community in America have several unique qualities:

  1. Americans experience the power of several classes of elites in their lives and, most importantly, in the laws, regulations, and the more informal power to regulate norms and beliefs.
  2. However long this has been developing, Americans generally have come to notice its power in the last 15 years.
  3. One of the powers—expressing itself in both formal and informal ways—of these overlapping classes of elites is to undermine voluntary associations and all manner of conditions that are necessary to the creation of rich, thick, local communities.

As a result of this process of both atomizing and tribalizing (using tribalizing here as a result of atomising and therefore in contrast to healthy communities built on a rich associational life), Americans are robbed of the advantages of community and are instead governed in more and more detailed ways by governments and, particularly, by administrative systems of those governments which use the authority of "science" and expertise to control our lives. In this conversation, Mac Donald, Caldwell and McAllister will outline the historical, cultural, and political implications in these trends that have resulted in the current state of decadence and weakened levels of civic trust and participation.

Panelists

  Christopher Caldwell

Christopher Caldwell

Christopher Caldwell is a Senior Fellow and contributing editor of the Claremont Review of Books.

Mr. Caldwell's bylines appear regularly in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. He is also the author of Reflections on the Revolution In Europe (2009), an acclaimed study of the impact of the mass immigration of Muslim immigrants to Europe in the 20th century.

He is a graduate of Harvard College.

  Heather Mac Donald

Heather Mac Donald

Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor of City Journal, and a New York Times bestselling author. She is a recipient of the 2005 Bradley Prize. Mac Donald's work at City Journal has covered a range of topics, including higher education, immigration, policing, homelessness and homeless advocacy, criminal-justice reform, and race relations. Her writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, and The New Criterion. Mac Donald's newest book, The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture (2018), argues that toxic ideas first spread by higher education have undermined humanistic values, fueled intolerance, and widened divisions in our larger culture.

  Ted McAllister

Ted McAllister - Pepperdine School of Public Policy

Ted McAllister, an intellectual historian, brings a historical imagination to the public policy curriculum, a perspective not typical of such programs. He is the Edward L. Gaylord Chair and associate professor of Public Policy at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy.  A recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation's Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, he also received the Leland Sage Fellowship as well as several additional grants including one from the Earhart Foundation. The author of a volume entitled Revolt Against Modernity: Leo Strauss, Eric Voegelin, and the Search for a Postliberal Order, he has completed a new textbook on American history entitled The Promise of Freedom: A History of the United States. Among his other publications, he has authored the chapter "Reagan and the Transformation of American Conservatism" in The Reagan Presidency. McAllister has lectured frequently on the nature and future of American conservatism, including recent presentations at Oxford University and at Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany. In addition to his research into conservative philosophy, he is currently working on a history of the baby boomer generation.

McAllister serves (with Jean Bethke Elshtain and Wilfred McClay) as an editor of Rowman & Littlefield's book series, American Intellectual Culture, which is designed to produce books that examine the intersection of culture and politics in American history. At Pepperdine he teaches the core class entitled Ethical Dimensions of Public Policy: Great Books and Great Ideas, as well as a variety of elective courses that focus on putting policy debates in larger historical and philosophical contexts, including such classes as Comparative Federalism, Public Policy in Modern America, and American Democratic Culture.

A graduate of Oklahoma Christian College, he earned his master's degree from Claremont Graduate School before completing his doctoral degree in American intellectual and cultural history at Vanderbilt University.

  Moderator: Pete Peterson

Pete Peterson - Dean Pepperdine School of Public Policy

Pete Peterson is the Braun Family Dean at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, and is co-director of the American Project. He is a leading national speaker and writer on issues related to civic participation, and the use of technology to make government more responsive and transparent.

Peterson writes widely on public engagement for a variety major news outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle, as well as numerous blogs. He is a regular guest on the "Politics Roundtable" with host Larry Mantle on KPCC radio.

He contributed the chapter, "Place As Pragmatic Policy" to the edited volume, Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Civic Life in Modern America (New Atlantis Books, 2014), and the chapter "Do-It Ourselves Citizenship" in the volume, Localism in the Mass Age (Wipf & Stock, 2018).

Peterson has been a public affairs fellow at The Hoover Institution, and he serves on the Leadership Councils of the Public Policy Institute of California and California Forward, and on the boards of the Homeland Security Advisory Council and the Da Vinci Charter Schools.

Peterson was the Republican candidate for California Secretary of State in 2014.

Webinar 1

Is Communitarian Conservatism Relevant in an Age of "Social Distancing" and Political Polarization?

With Ross Douthat and Gracy Olmstead

In a time of pandemic and social upheaval the consideration of a communitarian conservatism seems like a quaint notion. But does this era—with its "social distancing" and national debates on American identity—actually demand a renewed appreciation of this humanistic approach to our public policy and politics? Join two of today's leading thinkers and cultural critics as we begin this interactive webinar series by defining what is meant by the phrase "communitarian conservatism" and then discuss how it may be uniquely relevant for our distinctly polarized time in American policy and politics.

 

 

Panelists

  Keynote Speaker: Ross Douthat

Ross Douthat

Ross Douthat joined The New York Times as an Op-Ed columnist in April 2009. His column appears every Tuesday and Sunday, and he cohosts the Times Op-Ed podcast, "The Argument." Previously, he was a senior editor at The Atlantic and a blogger on its website.

He is the author of The Decadent Society, which published in March 2020. His other books include To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism, published in 2018, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (2012), Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class (2005), and a coauthor, with Reihan Salam, of Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream (2008). He is the film critic for National Review.

He lives with his wife and four children in New Haven.

  Respondent: Gracy Olmstead

Gracy Olmstead

Gracy Olmstead is a writer whose work has appeared in The American Conservative, New York Times, The Washington Post, and elsewhere. Her book Uprooted: Recovering the Legacy of the Places We've Left Behind will be published March 16, 2021.

  Moderator: Pete Peterson

Pete Peterson - Dean Pepperdine School of Public Policy

Pete Peterson is the Braun Family Dean at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, and is co-director of the American Project. He is a leading national speaker and writer on issues related to civic participation, and the use of technology to make government more responsive and transparent.

Peterson writes widely on public engagement for a variety major news outlets including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle, as well as numerous blogs. He is a regular guest on the "Politics Roundtable" with host Larry Mantle on KPCC radio.

He contributed the chapter, "Place As Pragmatic Policy" to the edited volume, Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Civic Life in Modern America (New Atlantis Books, 2014), and the chapter "Do-It Ourselves Citizenship" in the volume, Localism in the Mass Age (Wipf & Stock, 2018).

Peterson has been a public affairs fellow at The Hoover Institution, and he serves on the Leadership Councils of the Public Policy Institute of California and California Forward, and on the boards of the Homeland Security Advisory Council and the Da Vinci Charter Schools.

Peterson was the Republican candidate for California Secretary of State in 2014.

 

 

This webinar series made possible by a grant from the Sarah Scaife Foundation.