The purpose of the Ashbrook Scholar Program is to assist students in acquiring the intellectual and moral virtues required for thoughtful citizenship. We do this through sustained reflection on the writings of those who have thought most deeply and comprehensively about human nature and political organization, and the opinions, character, and actions of those who have most remarkably practiced the political art.
Whether in the classroom, around the Center’s seminar tables, or in conversation with the Center’s faculty, Ashbrook Scholars are nourished on a healthy diet of argument and reflection about the meaning and significance of America. For instruction in the moral and theoretical foundations of American politics, Ashbrook Scholars invest their intellectual energy into studying the political thought of American statesmen such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Abraham Lincoln, to name a few.
They learn to understand the Constitution and the governmental structure it established in light of the principles that animated its authors. They analyze landmark opinions of the Supreme Court, examining the ways in which the Court’s interpretation of the Constitution has both preserved and transformed its meaning. They read classic novels by America’s greatest writers, awakening to the sense in which great literature can sometimes tell more about American political principles than the best of treatises. And, of course, Ashbrook Scholars have ample opportunities to study and discuss today’s political landscape and the ideas, policies, and personalities that are moving it.