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. Typically, responses must negotiate the competing imperatives of protecting the rights of citizens to observe and promulgate their diverse comprehensive beliefs and practices (including in shaping their children’s education), and promoting core liberal political values to sustain liberal democracy. The prevailing normative debate has calcified into two broad camps: the ‘accommodationalists,’ who prioritize the former goal, and the ‘transformationalists’ who favor the latter.

This project offers a critique and a positive proposal to move beyond this impasse, arguing that both camps neglect the question of how we ought to support students in exploring and making sense of the interplay between their core liberal democratic commitments and the values of their comprehensive traditions—the question, or puzzle, of ‘value integrity.’ Under the proposed ‘value integrity centered’ approach, the liberal state ought to facilitate but not overly direct students’ pursuit of their own meaningful solutions to the value integrity puzzle.

Building on this distinct normative view, the project in turn identifies and clarifies the normative requirements for a Value Integrity Civics (VIC) regime, by examining popular citizenship training models. It then provides a blueprint for a VIC curricular program, 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) reflective journaling as a tool for students to use in crafting their own solution. Finally, the project seeks to inform further work and discussion by giving a preliminary sketch of the political and practical implications of the model for education policy in the U.S.

Dissertation Defended September 9, 2015.

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

Research Interests

Main Research Interests: Democratic Theory; Liberalism; Citizenship; Education; Curricular Design and Pedagogy; Normative Accounts and Critiques of Liberal Democratic Institutions; Pluralism; Deliberation and the Public Sphere; Normative Values of Open Source/Open Access collaboration; Political Ethics; Leadership; Political Rhetoric.

Additional Research Interests: History of Political Thought (particularly questions on freedom and order, and conceptions of citizenship); Constitutionalism; Direct Democratic Participation; American Political Thought; American Political Development (APD); American Constitutional Law and its interfaces with Political Theory; Judicial Review in Democratic Theory; Courts and Judicial Politics; Devolution and Federalism.

General Academic Interests:  International Political Theory; Critical Theory; Human Rights; Applied Ethics; Bioethics; Technology; Pragmatism; Philosophy of Law; British Politics; Higher Education Governance.


‘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 »