“Tocquevillean Thoughts about the Future of American Higher Education”

  • on 10 Apr 2013
  • Gailor Auditorium
bill mcclay

Wilfred McClay, SunTrust Bank Chair of Excellence in Humanities and professor of history at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, will speak April 10 on “Tocquevillean Thoughts about the Future of American Higher Education.” The public is welcome.

McClay’s talk at Sewanee draws inspiration from the reflections of Alexis de Tocqueville, the 19th-century French writer and astute social critic of the American experiment. How might Tocqueville’s famous analysis of American culture inform our scrutiny of present-day democratic societies, particularly in relation to ongoing questions about the future status and character of liberal arts education? Such is the main issue that McClay’s presentation will address, and that promises to provoke lively discussion as those who teach and study at Sewanee continue to evaluate the commitment to a liberal education and its distinctive values.

In addition to having held special appointments at several other institutions, including Georgetown and Johns Hopkins, he is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, and a member of the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

McClay’s book titled The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America, one of many publications issued in the course of his distinguished scholarly career, won the Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians for the best book in American intellectual history published in 1993 and 1994. McClay has also won numerous fellowship and other awards from bodies such as the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Templeton Foundation, and the Danforth Foundation.