Value Integrity Civics: A New Approach for Crafting Liberal Democratic Citizens

How should liberal democracies craft citizens through civic education in schools?

My dissertation offers a new answer to this pressing question, arguing that two broad camps have dominated prevailing normative debate on the state’s role in civic education, prioritizing either the imperative to protect the rights of citizens to observe and promulgate their diverse comprehensive beliefs and practices (including in shaping their children’s education), or the imperative to promote core political values and their place in the practices of citizenship, in order to sustain liberal democracy. I argue this well-worn argumentative trajectory neglects the need to support students’ pursuit of ‘value integrity’ – the process of exploring and making sense of the puzzle posed by the interplay between core liberal democratic commitments and the values of their comprehensive traditions.

On my view, the liberal democratic state ought to facilitate but not overly direct students’ pursuit of their own meaningful solutions to the value integrity puzzle. The dissertation critiques several popular citizenship training approaches to clarify the normative requirements of a Value Integrity Civics (VIC) curricular architecture and develop an early normative policy blueprint focusing on (i) promoting understanding of the context of democratic coexistence, (ii) exposing students to diverse narrative testimony on grappling with the value integrity puzzle, and, (iii) exploring reflective journaling as a tool enabling students to chronicle their experience of the puzzle and to craft their own response. Finally, the project highlights terrain for further applied work and discussion by offering a preliminary sketch of the political and practical implications of the VIC model for education policy in the U.S.

Dissertation Committee: Prof. Corey L. Brettschneider (chair), Prof. Sharon R. Krause, Prof. Kenneth Wong, Prof. James A. Morone.

Research Interests

Main Research Interests: Education Policy; Civic Engagement and Empowerment; Civic Pedagogy; Curriculum and Mentoring Practice Development; Liberalism; Normative Critique of Public Policy and Political Institutions; Deliberation and the Public Sphere; Pluralism; Political Ethics; Leadership; Higher Education Governance and Public Engagement.

Other Interests: Constitutionalism; Direct Democracy; American Political Thought; American Political Development; British Politics; Devolution and Federalism; Pragmatism; Political Rhetoric.

Work in Progress

‘The Civics of Science,’ (with Susan Moffitt), essay outlining a case for the civic education benefits of science education and a robust set of K-12 science standards, drawing on normative democratic theory and early American pragmatism.

‘The Importance of Puzzling out Value Integrity in Civic Education,’ normative paper advocating for robust attention to student reflection on democratic values and tensions as part of a complete twenty-first century civic education curriculum.


‘Crafting Citizens: Facing Controversy and Teaching Citizenship,’ Brown University, ‘Research Matters!’ Graduate School Symposium, Brown 250th Anniversary Fall Celebration, 27 September 2012 (Office of Brown’s 250th Anniversary, Brown Graduate School, C. M. Colver Lectureship Fund). Watch the talk via YouTube »

Conference Papers

‘Crafting Liberal Citizens: Toward a Value-Integration Centered Approach to Liberal Democratic Civic Education,’ Madison, WI, October 2014, Association for Political Theory.

‘A Step out of the Ideal for Political Liberals: An ‘Open Source’ Approach to Liberal Democratic Citizenship and Political Institutions,’ New Orleans, LA, August 2012, American Political Science Association – paper accepted for presentation; conference cancelled due to Hurricane.

‘A Step out of the Ideal for Political Liberals: An ‘Open Source’ Approach to Liberal Democratic Citizenship and Political Institutions,’ Portsmouth, NH, April 2012, New England Political Science Association.

Workshop Presentations

Papers delivered at Brown’s Graduate Political Philosophy Workshop:

  • ‘Value Integrity Civics: Principles and Applications,’ February 2015.
  • ‘Civic Pedagogy, Curricular Standards and Value Integrity, May 2014.
  • ‘Between Transformation and Accommodation: Promoting Liberal Citizenship and Value Integration,’ September 2013.
  • ‘‘Open Source’ Democracy in Crafting Citizens,’ April 2012.
  • ‘The Liberal Interface: Re-casting the ‘transformative’ character of liberal political practices as ‘open source’ code for democratic citizenship,’ October 2010.
  • ‘Enmity: Manipulate or Mitigate? Schmitt vs. Hobbes on achieving political stability,’ April 2010.

Published Work

The Long Journey: 100 Years of Democracy in Britain (co-authored with Anthony Cutler), Bridgend, UK: Kestrel Books, 2005 (ISBN: 0-954-8840-2-7). A Civic Education Resource. More information »