In The Public Interest
Summer  1998
Emily Decker   Library 2119    #6637
Rita Pougiales   Lab II  3268    #6381

Weekly Schedule

Library 2219  Seminar
Library 2219 Writing Group:
Bridging Public and Private
Library 2219  Workshops
Library 2219   Seminar
Poetry Cafe

 Community and the Politics of Place,  Daniel Kemmis
 Poetic Justice,  Martha Nussbaum
 Mama Day,  Gloria Naylor
 Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, Hannah Arendt.

     What does it mean to lead a “good” life? Martha Nussbaum, a contemporary American philosopher, argues that a “good” life  is one where we deliberately make decisions and choices fully aware of competing goods and contradictions in our lives.  Such decisions, she argues, reflect the deep contradictions in our lives between public  and private interests - for example, between career and family life, between institutional practices (in education, health care, etc.) and our own sense of well being, or  between material and spiritual goods.
      In order to answer the question “What does it mean to lead a ‘good’ life?,” we will  investigate the nature and consequences of the separation of private and public interests for us individually and as a society. We will explore the possibilities of diminishing the contradictions by making what have become very private issues into public ones. We will look seriously at what it is in our lives today that is of “public interest.” Together we will inquire into whether we can reinvigorate and remake a “good” public life, one shaped by the close and intimate issues in our lives.
     This is a program for people who want to think seriously about the question “What does it mean to lead a good life?” in both personal and public terms. This program is particularly well suited for people who have an interest in the institutional practices in education, social work and other professional areas (i.e. law, medicine, counseling).  In addition to exploring the personal dimensions of the question, we will explore the implications for institutional practices and policy. For example, what difference would it make to a teacher if she used her response to the question of a “good life” as a basis to rethink her teaching? Or if citizens took seriously their response to the question about a “good life” what difference might that make in subsequent public debates?
     Along with the common readings, each student will read additional material relevant to a topic of their choice. Students will participate in a weekly writing group as a way to explore bridges between personal and public practices and values. The in-program writing will be directed toward completing a series of short essays or stories.
     In addition to enrolling in this program, students may also choose to arrange an additional 8-credit internship or individual contract.

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Madeby: D. Webber
Last modified: 6/24/98