University of Rochester professor Randall Curren has received a prestigious grant to fund a seminar for high-school teachers who want a better understanding of social conflict and their role as educators in resolving it. The $73,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities is the only one awarded in the field of philosophy this year and one of only 20 awarded overall in the nation.
Curren, who holds dual appointments in the University's Department of Philosophy and Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development, will use the grant to hold "Overcoming Conflict: Aristotle on Justice, Friendship, and Virtue" from July 6 to Aug. 7, 1998. Curren expects the seminar will attract social studies teachers, as well as educators involved in conflict resolution or character education projects in their schools. Fifteen participants will be selected from a national applicant pool.
"Aristotle is now invoked in discussion of everything from community service requirements for high-school students to classroom management," he noted, "but teachers have little opportunity to make an in-depth study of the theory that has become so widely popularized in bits and pieces."
Participants will devote five weeks to an intensive study of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and Politics, paying particular attention to how these works respond to the conflict which was pervasive in ancient Greece. Curren expects teachers will take away not only a much better understanding of ancient Greek politics and values, but a framework for understanding moral and political life and the place of education in the life of a community.
"Despite the profound differences between Aristotle's world and ours," Curren said, "these works develop accounts of human development and excellence, friendship, justice, responsibility, and civic harmony that still merit serious consideration."
Curren, an associate professor, has been a member of the University faculty since 1988.