Jesse Mercer Plaza

McDonald Center for America’s Founding Principles to Host Eighth Annual A.V. Elliott Conference on Great Books and Ideas

MACON – Mercer University’s Thomas C. and Ramona E. McDonald Center for America’s Founding Principles on Nov. 19 will host its eighth annual A.V. Elliott Conference on Great Books and Ideas focusing on the theme “John Locke and the Dawn of Liberalism.”

This year’s conference, rescheduled from March and adapted to a virtual format, includes nine scholars from across the United States presenting their work as panelists.

All events are free and open to the public. Presentations by each panelist have been posted on the McDonald Center webpage, and question-and-answer sessions for each of the three panels will be held live via Zoom on Nov. 19.

“The pandemic has forced us to be creative this year, but we are very fortunate to have a great group of scholars who were willing to stick with us and see the project to the end,” said Dr. Will Jordan, associate professor of political science and co-director of the McDonald Center. “I think this year’s Elliott Conference will be worth the wait.”

The first panel, scheduled for 1 p.m., is on “Slavery and Liberty” and will feature Dr. Holly Brewer, Burke Chair of American Cultural and Intellectual History and associate professor at the University of Maryland; Dr. Steven Forde, professor of political science at the University of North Texas and St. John’s College; and Gabrielle Stanton Ray, instructor of philosophy at Tulane University.

The second panel, scheduled for 3 p.m., is on “Politics in Theory and Practice” and will feature Dr. Daniel Cullen, professor of political science at Rhodes College; Dr. Peter Josephson, professor of politics at Saint Anselm College; and Dr. J. Judd Owen, associate professor of political science at Emory University.

The third panel, scheduled for 5:10 p.m., is on “Nature, Convention and the Family” and will feature Dr. Nasser Behnegar, associate professor of political science at Boston College; Dr. Rita Koganzon, assistant professor of politics at the University of Virginia; and Dr. Scott Yenor, professor of political science at Boise State University.

The McDonald Center for America’s Founding Principles has held an annual Conference on Great Books and Ideas since 2008. That conference was endowed with a $1 million gift from alumnus and trustee A.V. Elliott in November 2012. Elliott, a 1956 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who majored in history and Christianity, went on to found Elliott Machine Shop, a 100-employee company in Macon. His success, he said, was in part due to his ability to think critically at important moments, a skill he honed in his humanities courses at Mercer.

About the Thomas C. and Ramona E. McDonald Center for America’s Founding Principles

The Thomas C. and Ramona E. McDonald Center for America’s Founding Principles exists to supplement Mercer University’s excellent liberal arts program with a redoubled commitment to the foundational texts and ideas that have shaped Western Civilization and the American political order. This focus on the core texts of the Western tradition helps to revitalize a cross-centuries dialogue about citizenship, human rights, and political, economic and religious freedom, thereby deepening the moral imagination and fostering civic and cultural literacy.

The McDonald Center’s programming includes the annual A.V. Elliott Conference on Great Books and Ideas, faculty-student reading groups, a general education course on America’s Founding Principles, summer Great Books programs for high school teachers and students, and undergraduate research fellowships. All programming is designed to enhance Mercer’s longstanding role as a distinctive home of liberal learning, a place where serious students come to live the life of the mind and emerge more thoughtful and engaged citizens.