Scotland and Paris

Europe and the Birth of Modern Democracy: Scotland and Paris

Dr. Dorothea Wolfson and Dr. Alex Rosenthal

May 8, 2013 – May 28, 2013 (classes in DC: May 11, 13, 14; in country May 19 – May 26)

Course enrollment is limited to the first 15 registered students.

Note: This course will count towards the Security Studies Concentration (Government), the Economic Security Concentration (GSS) and as an elective in the MA in Public Management.


Course Description

In recent decades, there has been a dramatic, if fitful, movement of countries towards democracy. At the same time, new challenges and crises – economic, political, and cultural – have afflicted the well-established democracies, especially in Europe. It is thus now more imperative than ever to understand the foundations (and prerequisites) for a thriving democracy. The roots of modern liberal democratic ideals – including those of the U.S. constitutional system – are largely to be found in European political thought. Modern liberal democracy must be understood as the end point of a long process of intellectual fermentation and historical development.

It will be the goal of this course to explore the roots of liberal democracy, focusing in particular on the development of the free market and religious toleration. Two distinctive approaches can be discerned, one represented by the liberal-democratic movement in Great Britain and the other in France. The British  version of liberal democracy is characterized by its embrace of reason, but reason tempered by the “moral sentiments.” It was also more focused on economic questions as with Adam Smith’s advocacy of the free market. In contrast, the French Enlightenment represented a more full-throated and radical embrace of reason leading to the critique of supernatural religion and the advocacy of secularism as the path to achieve liberty, progress, and toleration.  Together these two models of democratic development have decisively shaped modern political culture in Europe, the United States, and newly emerging democracies. Our course will focus on the intellectual origins of these foundational ideas. The course will also examine contemporary political issues impacting Europe, such as the law of laicite (secularism) in France, the Scottish separatist movement in Great Britain, in addition to the impact of the new immigration on liberal democratic institutions in Europe.

Dr. Rosenthal and Dr. Wolfson will lead four discussion seminars in Washington, DC, before the class departs for Europe. The course will also feature guest speakers both in Washington, DC and in Europe. We still have several guest speakers in France who have yet to confirm. The guest speakers who have confirmed so far include:

  • Christopher Caldwell, a contributing writer for the New York Times, senior editor, The Weekly Standard, and author of, Reflections on the Revolution in France. Mr. Caldwell will discuss the findings of his recent book and how European secular institutions are increasingly challenged by the new immigration.
  • Alexander Brodie, formerly Professor of Logic and Rhetoric at Glasgow University — a chair once occupied by Adam Smith — Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The world’s leading authority on the Scottish Enlightenment, Dr. Broadie will lecture on the moral philosophy of Adam Smith and how it fits into his teachings on capitalism.
  • Raphael-Hadas Lebel, member of the French Council of State, Vice-President of the Aspen Institute of France, former columnist of L’Express, will address the students on the French policy of laicite (secularism) and French national identity, comparing the differences with the US on similar issues.
  • Alexis Morel, member of the French foreign service; currently an advisor in the Foreign Minstry’s policy planning staff as well as former advisor to President Sarkozy, Mr. Morel will discuss the French-American alliance.
  • Terrence Marshall, Professor of Politics at the University of Paris, will explore with students the French influence on the founding of American political institutions.

Structure of the Course

Washington, DC Course Meetings:

Wednesday, May 8:

Lecture I:  Religion and Secularism in Contemporary Europe (a podcast by Dr. Rosenthal that students may watch online and made available on May 8. Please listen to this podcast before his lecture on May 11)

A fierce debate in 2003 over whether to include a reference to Europe’s Christian roots in the EU constitution points to the continuing legacy of both Enlightenment secularism and Christianity in contemporary Europe.

At issue is: what values and beliefs define “Europe”?  Is secularism a necessary foundation of modern democratic freedom, tolerance and pluralism? Is Christianity the source of Europe’s cultural identity and its spiritual and moral values? Does common ground exist between the Enlightenment and Christian discourses?  These are some of the questions we shall explore.

Saturday, May 11, 3:00 to 4:30 pm:  Dr. Rosenthal will conduct  an adobe connect lecture which we will watch together at 1717 Massachusetts Ave.

Lecture II:  Historical Overview: The Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the Religious Question

This lecture will explore the intellectual foundations of secularism as it emerged in the French Enlightenment, focusing on the movement’s intellectual, cultural, and political struggle with the Roman Catholic Church which culminated in the French Revolution.

Monday, May 13: 7:00 to 8:30 pm

Lecture III:  “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe.”  Christopher Caldwell will address students on the themes his book discusses on the state of secular institutions in Europe today in light of the changing demographics that new immigration is bringing.

Tuesday, May 14: 7:00 to 8:30 pm

Lecture IV:  “Enlightenment Thought in the American Founding.”  Dr. Wolfson will address students on the intellectual influences on the American founders. While the Founders were tremendously influenced by both British and French thinkers, they also offered the world a “new political science” that led to the development of what has been termed American exceptionalism, especially in the areas of capitalism, religious liberty and expression.

Activities in Europe:
Students must arrive in Edinburgh by the evening of Sunday, May 19.

In Scotland:

  • Visit to the Scottish Parliament
  • Tour of Edinburgh Castle and tea
  • Lecture from Professor Broadie, followed by a pub lunch
  • Tour of the University of Glasgow

In Paris:

  • Lecture from Raphael Hadas-Lebel on French secularism and national identity
  • Lecture from Alexis Morel on the long-standing French-American alliance and NATO
  • Lecture from Terrence Marshall on the French influences on the American Revolution.
  • Tour of Paris on the Seine River
  • Tour of Medieval Paris landmarks — the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Sainte-Chapelle, Cathedral de St. Denis, the University of Paris in the Latin Quarter
  • Tour of Chateau Versailles
  • Lunch at Café Procope –meeting place of Voltaire, Diderot, and Benjamin Franklin

Estimated Costs

AIRFARE:  Round trip/multicity airfare from DC area to Scotland is around $1000.

INSURANCE:  Students must purchase their own travel health insurance if their existing insurance does not cover illness while abroad. This insurance will likely cost $100.

FEE:  Students must pay a fee of $1300 to JHU. This feel will cover hotels in Scotland, a pub lunch in Glasgow, tours of the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh Castle, bus transportation from Glasgow to Edinburgh, plane trip from Glasgow to Paris, lunch at Café Procope, and entrance fees to various places of interest and tours in Paris.

HOTEL:  We include the cost of hotel accommodations in Scotland. We will give a list of recommended hotels in Paris – the average cost between $100 to $150 per night.

FOOD:  Students will be responsible for most meals. Some hotels cover breakfast.

Total estimated costs: Tuition: $3,361; course fee $1,300; airfare $1,000; hotel (5 nights in Paris) $750.  Total estimated cost:  $6,411

Please note: Tuition rates for this course are estimated. Rates are subject to change and are subject to Board of Trustees approval.

Registration Information

Registration for this course begins at 10 am on February 8th. ENROLLMENT IS LIMITED TO 15 STUDENTS. The deadline to register for this course is 11:59 pm on March 4th.* (Note: Deadline has been extended to March 18th.) Full payment of tuition and fees is due at the time of registration. If a student decides to drop this course before March 4th, $500 of the tuition is nonrefundable. If a student drops the course on or after March 4th, ALL tuition and fees are nonrefundable. Students using financial aid, employer assistance, or tuition remission must also adhere to the non refundable tuition policy associated with this course.

Students will not see a charge on their account when they register for this course. Students need to provide full payment now or be prepared to commit to full payment through financial aid, employer assistance, or tuition remission.