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UF Western Civ center wraps up second semester, plans dozens of new classes for spring


Center made ‘exciting progress this semester,’ director says

A classical education center at the University of Florida wrapped up its second semester of classes and programming, with dozens of new courses planned for the spring semester.

The Hamilton Center for Classical and Civic Education “has been making exciting progress this semester in advancing our mission of research and teaching on the values of a free society,” Director William Inboden told The College Fix via email at the end of November.

“In my first four months as director, I have benefited tremendously from the excellent work done by my predecessor Professor John Stinneford in laying such a solid foundation for the center, and am grateful that Prof. Stinneford continues his work with us as a Senior Fellow,” Inboden (pictured) said.

Inboden, a former University of Texas-Austin academic and a historian, said more growth is expected.

“We are in the midst of an ambitious plan to grow our faculty and are currently recruiting and interviewing a substantial number of new faculty candidates,” Inboden told The Fix. “We plan to announce a large cohort of new faculty hires in the coming spring semester.”

“We are also in the process of designing several new majors and degree programs and preparing them for the approval process. We hope these new majors will welcome new academic opportunities for UF students,” he said.

The Center has also hosted public events on campus during the fall with a variety of speakers and topics.

Inboden said:

These have included a dialogue between Prof. Robert George of Princeton and Prof. Cornel West of Union Seminary on ‘Truth Seeking and Democracy,’ Prof. Carlos Eire of Yale on ‘The History of the Impossible,’ Prof. Melissa Kearney of the University of Maryland on ‘The Two Parent Privilege,’ former CIA analyst David McCloskey on his new spy novel ‘Moscow X,’ and Prof. Matt Jacobs of the Bob Graham Center and me debating American foreign policy.

The Center will also offer about 25 new classes to undergraduates at the university, most of which are Quest courses. All incoming freshmen are required to take Quest courses. These courses include “God and Science,” “Freedom and Equality,” “War and the Human Condition,” “Capitalism and its Critics,” and “What is America For?”

“President [Ben] Sasse and I will be co-teaching a Quest class on ‘The American Idea,’ which will explore America’s history and values through the lens of notable ideas and individuals that have shaped our nation,” Inboden told The Fix.

Students share their positive experience with the program

The center also offers a “Society of Fellows” for select students who want to advance even further in their learning beyond one class.

Eric Xie, a third-year political science and economics major, told The Fix he developed a “greater appreciation for the lineage that shaped the foundation of the United States and the intellectual spirit of the Western and American people,” thanks to the Hamilton Center.

“Before the Hamilton Center, my understanding of literature was limited to texts I had to read for class,” he said. “The Hamilton Center helped expand my literary bounds, develop a new-found interest in poetry, and become a more well-rounded individual.”

Another fellow who graduated in summer 2023, Colette Kania, told The Fix that her experience in the Society of Fellows was “unlike anything else at UF” and it provided “an opportunity to explore philosophical frameworks and their impact on today’s society.

“The Society of Fellows leads you to pursue questions from perspectives that I did not encounter in any of my other studies or extracurriculars at UF,” Kania told The Fix.

A senior STEM major, Sydney Edwards, also told The Fix that her experiences were valuable because the “Society of Fellows provided an outlet to explore political science and philosophy beyond upper-level coursework.”

Will Fletcher, a third-year international studies and history major, also told The Fix the Hamilton Center “has signified a shift towards the holistic investigation of our Western society from a range of disciplines in a way that traditional, department-based classes may not have the breadth to explore.”

“I can mark a stark contrast between my enthusiasm and capability to tackle large ideas before and after my time as a fellow,” he said. Fletcher thanked academics at the center for their mentorship.

Editor’s note: The headline has been fixed to clarify the center finished its second semester, not third.

MORE: These classical teaching programs meet a growing demand

IMAGE: University of Florida

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About the Author
Rachel Lalgie -- University of Florida