A statue of Socrates with UR students in conversation

Socratic growth

March 5, 2023

Dialogue

A UR fellowship program described by one former fellow as “the way college should be” doubled its capacity this year, inviting more students to engage with ideas from across the ideological spectrum.

This year, roughly two dozen students participated in the McDowell Institute Student Fellows Program, “an intellectual space for free inquiry, thoughtful deliberation, and rigorous discussion,” said the institute’s co-directors, professors Terry Price and Dan Palazzolo. The program, an initiative of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, is designed to attract students from a broad range of political perspectives for discussions about issues raised in classical texts and their application to contemporary issues.

In the fall, they read Plato’s Apology and met at the Greek theater to conduct their own trial of Socrates. They also attended lectures on free speech and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

During the spring semester, the fellows are participating in a cocurricular reading group led by professors Kevin Cherry from the political science department and Jessica Flanigan from the Jepson School.

Their text is the 2021 book Rescuing Socrates. In it, author Roosevelt Montás, who emigrated from the Dominican Republic at age 12, tells the story of how texts often called the “Great Books” transformed his life as both a student and a teacher. He also argues that these texts “have the power to speak to people of all backgrounds.”

Montás is scheduled to visit campus in mid-March for a public lecture. As part of his visit, he will meet with McDowell Fellows for a small group discussion.