I am a PhD candidate in the Political Science Department at Duke University.

DissertationChildren or Citizens: Civic Education in Liberal Political Thought

The liberal focus on individuals’ independence from the state is in tension with the intentional cultivation of the political culture required for democratic self-government. This tension is particularly evident when it comes to public education. My argument in the book is that we can partially overcome this tension by focusing on a different conception of children’s political status than typically attributed to liberalism. One liberal, but not necessarily democratic, conception is what I call “the apolitical child”. First articulated by John Locke in the process of limiting the scope of monarchy, this conception of childhood consigns children to the family and their education to the private sphere. This conception leads normative conversations about educational policy into conflicts about jurisdiction between parents and the state concerning children. I call the alternative conception “the child as citizen”. According to this view, children are already members of particular political communities. These polities can and should intervene in children’s education to prepare them for membership by providing universal public education and introducing children to a particular political culture and set of values. Based on an investigation of this alternative in 18th and 19th century liberal thought, I argue that liberal political theory should conceive of children as already being citizens. Regarding children as citizens would serve as a more productive ground for theorizing “liberal civic education” on the basis of the public good and the preservation of liberal-democratic institutions. I expect to be preparing the book manuscript for publication during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Working Papers:

“Why Should I Care? Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the Politics of Intergroup Empathy”

“Rome or Sparta? Rousseau’s Social Contract as a Tale of Two Cities”

“The Apolitical Child: Children’s Citizenship in Locke’s Political Thought”

“The Liberal Case for Universal Public Education: Smith, Mill and Guizot”

“Insight and Hindsight: Burke and Tocqueville on the French Revolution”