By Phil Hamilton, February 6, 2010 in Pedagogy and Teaching
Greetings from snowy Philadelphia. As Gerson Moreno-Riano wrote earlier, he, Lee Trepanier, Kelly Hanlon and myself are here at the APSA 2010 Teaching and Learning Conference defending the American Political Tradition.
At 10a.m. this morning, we presented our paper. We argued that the American political system cannot be studied like other political regimes around the world simply because of the United States’ unique cultural, historical, and political development. Moreover, US students need to gain an understanding of our system of government, our founding principles, and our key institutions if they are to be good and responsible citizens. Nevertheless, American students should learn how and why the United States emerged within a broader global intellectual tradition in the late-18th century and the American nation has had an enormous political impact on the global stage since 1776. In essence, we argued that “what is needed is a study of globalization through the lens of the American regime.”
Overall, our presentation went well and our ideas were received in a very positive way. For the most part, our colleagues agreed with our pedagogical approach and some made helpful suggestions for strengthening our main points. We also had a good and wide-ranging general discussion about America’s political, ideological, and cultural impact upon the globe over the past two centuries (the most memorable moment came when one of the discussants – not associated with the Lehrman Center -- made a rather jarring reference to “Britney the whore” as an example of America’s not-so-positive influence upon today’s global culture! I have to say that no one spoke up to defend Ms. Spears.).