2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

History and Politics of Conservatism in the U.S.

Summer 2013 quarter

Trevor Griffey U.S. history
Fields of Study
American studies, history and political science

Conservatism has dominated United States politics for the last 30 years, and yet the study of conservatism tends to exist at the margins of college history and political science courses. This program seeks to remedy that problem by providing students of all political persuasions with an opportunity to critically examine the history and philosophy of conservatism in the United States.

Some of the questions that the class will explore are:

  • Why have more than 50% of white voters in the U.S. supported Republican Party candidates for President in every election since 1964?
  • How, in a country that is majority Christian but not majority conservative, has the Christian Right become such a powerful force in U.S. politics since the 1970s?
  • What effect has the development of conservative talk radio and television had on U.S. political culture in the last two decades, and how has conservative media evolved in the digital age?
  • What role do corporations and think-tanks play in the conservative movement, and what relationship do they have to mass mobilizations like the Tea Party?
  • What role have paramilitary organizations—from the Ku Klux Klan to the Minutemen to the militia movement—played in shaping the conservative movement?
  • How did neoconservatives rethink U.S. foreign policy following the U.S. defeat in the Vietnam war, and how did their ideas shape the creation of the War on Terror?

The program will approach these questions from an historical perspective by exploring how three distinct strands of conservatism evolved after World War I: social/religious conservatism, economic conservatism, and foreign policy conservatism. It will then explore how contemporary conservative media outlets try to unite these distinct strands of conservatism together while differentiating them from liberalism. It is recommended that students who enroll in the program have prior background in U.S. history and/or politics courses.

Advertised Schedule
10a-4p Mon/Wed/Fri (Jun. 24 - Jul. 26)
Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Offered During