- Institute for Freedom and Community
- For Students
weber scholars summer program
Are you looking for something exciting to do during the summer? Do you want to learn to think more critically? And are you looking to travel a less trodden path? The Institute for Freedom & Community is pleased to announce an exciting new opportunity for St Olaf College freshman, sophomores, and juniors. In summer 2021, we will be offering the Weber Scholars Summer Program: an eight-week program offering competitive compensation ($4,500 + on-campus housing if needed) and a unique opportunity to explore unconventional, provocative, and out of the box ideas. Participants, known as Weber Scholars, will spend four weeks in a seminar session with Edmund Santurri, Morrison Family Director of the Institute for Freedom and Community, studying a list of works. Following the seminar, students will spend an additional four weeks working with Erik Grell (Assistant Director) and Brendon Westler (Institute Post-Doc) collaborating on individual research projects that reflect the themes and ideas from the seminar.
Details at a glance:
Who: You! and about 15 to 20 other St Olaf College students. All are welcome to apply (except for graduating seniors). Spots will be limited and offered on a competitive basis.
When: The months of June and July, precise dates and times are TBD.
What: Four weeks of reading and discussion and four more weeks of engaged research.
Where: Due to likely Covid conditions, both the seminar and research components will take place virtually. Students can live at home or on campus if desired.
Funding: Participants will earn approximately $4,500.00 for eight weeks. On-campus housing will also be offered.
Complete this form if you are interested in learning more!
The Weber Seminar: Confronting Uncomfortable Moral, Political, and Social Ideas (Part 1: June 2021)
The great social theorist Max Weber once wrote: “Any effective teacher will have to try first of all to get his [sic] students to recognize uncomfortable facts [unbequeme Tatsachen]–facts, I mean, that go against their own partisan opinions.” For Weber an untrammeled investigation of truth required openness to entertaining propositions, proposals, theories, ideas that might be inconvenient, unpleasant or unpopular. This seminar, led by Morrison Family Director of the Institute for Freedom and Community, is designed to acquaint students with moral, political and social ideas that challenge comfortable partisan opinions or reigning orthodoxies in the academy. The seminar invites students into a bold free-thinking project but also offers a supportive environment for expressing and considering views out of the academic mainstream. What counts as “out of the mainstream” is, of course, contextual, and will depend on circumstances at a particular point in time. Thus specific topics and readings will vary from year to year, but what follows is a sample list of works from which choices might be made for study in summer 2021:
Oren Cass, The Once and Future Worker
Mary Eberstadt, “The Fury of the Fatherless,” First Things
George Fredrickson, Big Enough to Be Inconsistent: Abraham Lincoln Confronts Slavery and Race
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., ed., Lincoln on Race and Slavery
Robert P. George, Conscience and Its Enemies
Mark Lilla, The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics
Michael Lind, The New Class War
Gregg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind
Nikole Hannah-Jones, et al., “The 1619 Project,” New York Times Magazine
Scott Lilienfeld, “Microaggressions: Strong Claims, Inadequate Evidence,” Association for Psychological Science
Phillip W. Magness, The 1619 Project: A Critique
Lucas E. Morel, Lincoln and the American Founding
Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, Cynical Theories
Ilana Redstone and John Villasenor, Unassailable Ideas
Virgil Henry Storr and Ginny Seung Choi, Do Markets Corrupt Our Morals?
Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Race
D. W. Sue, “Microaggressions and ‘Evidence’: Empirical or Experiential Reality?”Association for Psychological Science
Max Weber, “Lectures on Vocation”
The Weber Research Colloquium: Confronting Uncomfortable Moral, Political, and Social Ideas (Part 2: July 2021)
Building on the discussions, dialogue, and discourse of the The Weber Seminar, participants will pursue their own individualized research projects that reflect in a substantial and concentrated way a strong critical engagement with the content of the seminar. The individual research component of the Weber Summer Scholars Program will thus allow students to develop their research practices, writing skills, and creative energies around a singular and specialized area of study that intersects with the moral, political and social ideas presented during the seminar. Immersing oneself in a research project full-time will not only result in more learning about the subject of study, but it will also develop critical thinking skills and competencies. Students will have the opportunity to present their work in a virtual conference-style format while also sharing insights with one another.
The public affairs conversation
The Public Affairs Conversation, which is fully supported by the Institute for Freedom and Community, is modeled on the other signature Conversation programs at St. Olaf. Students undertake an interdisciplinary journey through influential texts and ideas that have shaped civil discourse in the past and will guide its future.
This yearlong program for sophomores, juniors and seniors consists of two courses (fall and spring) and a funded internship opportunity (during interim, spring or summer). The courses focus on contested ideals and contemporary controversies in American public affairs. The first course looks at the evolution of contested ideals in American politics as they develop in the founding period and throughout the history of the republic. The course also engages a range of contemporary normative perspectives that are the foundation of the contemporary debate. The second course blends normative and empirical analysis of contemporary public policy. Both courses will be supplemented by co-curricular activities and events.
For more information contact: Michael Fuerstein, Director
The Institute for Freedom and Community seeks to provide funding and other administrative support to student organizations whose activities promote the values of free inquiry and spirited expression, so that people with diverse points of view and values can study, discuss, and debate political and social issues in respectful environments.
The Institute has periodically sponsored an essay contest open to current students that addresses a central question or theme related to recent Institute programming. Prizes have included an all-expense paid trip to Chicago to take in the hit Broadway show Hamilton: An American Musical, and multi-day excursion throughout Washington D.C., including a private tour of the National Archives’ Rare Book Room and reserved seating for a round of oral arguments at the Supreme Court. Check back for any future contest announcements.
What is Braver Angels?
Braver Angels is a national program launched in 2016, working to restore civil trust in America. It was originally named Better Angels in reference to Abraham Lincoln’s use of the phrase in his First Inaugural Address in 1861 on the eve of the Civil War. The phrase “better angels” represents the belief that we can discover areas of commonality in addition to differences — even in moments of fierce conflict. The mission of the organization is to reduce political polarization in the United States by bringing liberals and conservatives together not to compromise but to understand each other beyond stereotypes.
A Braver Angels Debate is a highly structured conversation in which a group of people think together, listen carefully to one another, and allow themselves to be touched and perhaps changed by each other’s ideas.
What are Braver Angels’ connections to the IFC?
Braver Angels first worked with St. Olaf College through the Institute for Freedom and Community in 2019, and also hosted a virtual debate in 2020.
The debate in 2019 was a “Red/Blue Workshop” where students discussed their political leanings and biases, and the debate in 2020 focused on the resolution, “Cancel culture is antithetical to the principles and liberties that are at the foundation of this country.”
Watch the 2020 virtual debate on “cancel culture” below!