lake and beyond
Tocqueville Receives $500,000 Breakthrough Pledge: Ravenel ‘63 and Beth Curry Help to Secure Program’s Future
Furman’s Tocqueville Program housed within the department of political science, received a resounding boost thanks to the generosity of alumnus from the class of 1963 Ravenel Curry and his wife, Beth. The program sponsors a course and lecture series that brings prominent scholars and public intellectuals to Furman’s campus with the aim of encouraging serious and open engagement with “the moral questions at the heart of political life.”
The Currys’ commitment creates a strong financial base for the Tocqueville Program, enabling Furman to offer it for the next ten years and likely for the indefinite future. “Now that the course and accompanying lecture series is on a firm economic foundation, the Curry pledge allows us to turn our efforts to the ambitious project of expansion,” said professor and program co-director Ty Tessitore. “We consider the Tocqueville Program to be the beginnings of a much broader effort to invigorate the teaching of the liberal arts at Furman,” added associate professor and co-director Ben Storey.
Since the program was created in 2008, it has been an enormous success. In 2010, student demand was such that it was necessary to double the space available in the course. Storey and Tessitore first developed the program “in response to the growing civic and cultural illiteracy of students enrolled in American institutions of higher education, and the creeping ideological conformity that pervades faculty and students alike.” In addition to teaching the texts that largely shaped Western civilization, Storey says, “our program seeks to prepare students to be responsible citizens of both their own country and the world.”
The Tocqueville Program combines a series of lectures by distinguished scholars and public intellectuals with an annual four-credit course, both of which are coordinated around a common theme. Themes to date have included “Biotechnology and Politics” (2009-2010), “Liberal Education and Liberal Democracy” (2010-2012), and “Alexis de Tocqueville and the American Republic” (2013-2014).
But the journey to a sustained invigoration of liberal education within the Furman curriculum through the Tocqueville Program is not yet complete. “We are one significant fundraising success away from a major expansion of the Program, one that would provide a significant University-wide response to the pervasive demotion of the Western and American traditions often characteristic of higher education,” Tessitore concluded.