While the University of Georgia can take pride in many of its programs, there is some room for improvement when it comes to its responsibility to produce good citizens. That was one of the points Bernard Dauenhauer, emeritus professor in the philosophy department, made during his Jan. 27 Founders’ Day Lecture entitled “Justice, Truth and the Place of Universities.”
Quoting Louise McBee’s 1978 article “Higher Education: Its Responsibility for Moral Development,” Dauenhauer noted that the university has a responsibility to produce good citizens, and can in two ways: by teaching its students the importance of ethics or morality, and by serving as a model of commitment to these same ethics and morality.
A good citizen “needs at least two habits,” he said. “One is a habitual concern for truth, that is, a habitual respect for evidence. The other is a habitual concern for justice, for fairness.”
There are obstacles to developing those habits, he also said: the tendency to disagree in politics, whether deeply over philosophical subjects—such as the existence in God—or over establishing how to use resources. To prepare students to over come these hurdles, Dauenhauer said UGA “can challenge [them] to think again about the opinions they hold.”
He also said there could be the -addition of a mandatory block of courses—philosophy, religion, literature and history—with each dealing with issues directly bearing on -citizenship.
As for the university serving as an ethical model to its students, Dauenhauer said that UGA sponsors worthwhile efforts, but could do even more.
“Athens needs more from UGA,” he said. “It needs the university to take fuller advantage of its ‘bully pulpit’ place in the community. . . . I do not suggest that university administrators and experts try to pressure the citizenry to accept solutions they propose. But I would urge them to use their expertise and prestige to act as honest brokers in the making and implementing of public policy.”