Pillar: Education & Culture

Education & Culture

The fourth pillar, education and culture, is built upon the recognition of two essential realities. First, the Western intellectual tradition requires a dedication to and desire for truth. Second, education takes place not only within colleges and universities but within our broader culture, whose institutions and practices form us as whole persons.

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Faith and Family Play a Bigger Role in Academic Achievement Than Race or Socioeconomic Status

The phrase “achievement gap” refers to the well-documented discrepancies between the scholastic achievements of African American and Latinos on the one hand and white students on the other. What explains the gap? My meta-analysis revealed that if an African American or Latino student was a person of faith and came from a two biological parent family, the achievement gap totally disappeared, even when adjusting for socioeconomic status.

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Institutions and the Culture War in 2020

In order to alleviate our social crisis, we will need to improve the moral formation that our institutions provide their members. Yet the institutions best suited to lead in this task are those with a religious mission, which in turn are imperiled by the culture war that elite institutions are waging against them. The cause of institutionalism today therefore requires a forceful defense against the aggressions of the cultural Left. Part two of a two-part review essay.

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Thinking and Acting Institutionally in 2020

In an important update to Aristotelian political thought, Yuval Levin’s new book shows that the health of a modern society depends on the health of its social institutions, and that our social institutions today are not healthy. Part one of a two-part review essay.

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Weathering the Storm: How Faith Affects Well-Being

Active Christians exhibit greater current life satisfaction and are more likely to report that they are thriving. In addition, active Christians have higher levels of subjective well-being throughout the entire business cycle—not just in booms, but in the busts as well. Our results suggest that religion and religious communities will continue to play a driving role in helping people cope with change by keeping their eyes pointed towards the eternal even as storms surge around them.

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Sympathy for the Devil in the Cultural Moment of 1969

Fifty years after Altamont, no clear-eyed observer of American culture can doubt that the demonic spirit of 1969 is still very much in the air in our country. This is how the evil of cultural destruction presents itself. It would be so easy to turn aside from it if all collapsed into ugly, nauseating chaos instantly as soon as the old cultural rules and restrictions were abandoned. But such things take time to materialize in their full wreckage.

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Quiet Hope: A New Year’s Resolution

Despair is the unforgivable sin, for the despairing conclude that God will not or cannot act, that the universe is fundamentally unfriendly and inhospitable to the true, good, and beautiful, and that humanity has lost the imago Dei. To judge in this way is to deny the goodness of the world and its Creator and sustainer, and that is the sin of all sins.

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A Decade of Debates

The team at Public Discourse doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, but we do think we’re asking the right questions, and getting the right thinkers to propose some of the answers. That’s one thing that we hope will always be our hallmark: thoughtful, reasoned discourse, which is rigorous yet still accessible to the educated layman.

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Free Speech Cannot Save Us

Unless they acknowledge a divine transcendence, our universities, like our culture at large, are sentenced to pointless “debate,” full of sound and fury, no matter how free our speech is. The marketplace of ideas alone cannot save education.

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Humane Development: Why Fundraisers Need the Liberal Arts

A new book argues that fundraising is not an independent activity external to the purpose of a non-profit, but an integral part of the existence and mission of the organization. Rather than becoming a class of experts, fundraisers should be well-formed persons and citizens, who can learn the craft of fundraising and practice it in a manner that supports rather than undermines the free and relational nature of civil society.

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Sweeney Trump and the Hollow Men

There are reasons to care which denizens of the wasteland hold political authority, but rejuvenating the wasteland is the more important task. Without recognizing the decadence of our culture, denouncing (or defending) the latest tweet from the president is just a desultory wind swirling dust and ashes.

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If You Don’t Find Your Identity in a Family, You’ll Look For It in the Primal Screams of Identity Politics

In her new book, Mary Eberstadt argues that today’s identity politics arose from the deep anthropological wound slit open by the sexual revolution. The ascent of identity politics reveals that people are having an identity crisis, and they are having an identity crisis because the sexual revolution resulted in family—and, by extension, individual—breakdown.

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An All-American Story, An All-American Priest

Father Theodore Hesburgh was a dedicated priest and a leader who possessed enormous ambition, charm, intelligence, and dedication. But for all his many gifts, Father Hesburgh lacked the vision and imagination necessary to realize the goal of making Notre Dame into a great Catholic university in the modern world.

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Graduate Students: Don’t Wait for Tenure to Enjoy Your Life

Don’t delay your life. Don’t wait until you get a job, then tenure, to do the normal things that make life sweet, like marrying and having children. Remember the time-worn observation: “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” Professors who build their career around their own ego and cutthroat ambition tend to shrivel into something you don’t want to be.

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The True Purpose of Medicine: Advice for Medical Students

As you enter into the medical profession, I encourage you to “start with the end in mind” by studying the Hippocratic Oath. The oath articulates the true aim of medicine, guiding physicians to provide treatments that align with the purpose of medicine and so are right for a doctor to do, and to refuse to provide treatments that go against this purpose and are wrong for a doctor to do.