On Monday, noted scholar Ryan T. Anderson became the sixth president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington’s “premier institute dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy.” Formerly the William E. Simon senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, Anderson succeeded long-time president Edward Whelan.
“It’s been an honor to lead this institution for the past 17 years,” Whelan said, “and I’m grateful for all my outstanding colleagues and for all that we have accomplished over that time. Ryan will be a great leader of EPPC for many years to come, and I look forward to working under his direction.”
He “could not be more excited by this tremendous opportunity,” Anderson said, to bring his acumen and insights to bear on crucial areas of American public life, including American civics.
Americans are generally not taught the “complexities of various historical figures who were essential to the founding and development of our nation,” Anderson argues. Instead, too much education today favors the extremes of “cancelling and hagiography.”
Defending our nation’s founding principles – including respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, justice, the rule of law, and limited government – is part of EPPC’s mission.
Anderson points to the work of EPPC Senior Fellow Stanley Kurtz, who has conducted critical research in many areas of civic education. Kurtz has lambasted “Action Civics,” which he argues is nothing more than “school-sponsored indoctrination and political action in support of progressive policy positions”; examined in detail the curriculum created from the essays in the New York Times’s 1619 Project; and, on the positive side, highlighted American Achievement Testing, which is designing a curriculum for K-12 U.S. history courses based on EPPC board member Wilfred M. McClay’s magisterial history textbook, “Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story.”
Robert George, another EPPC board member, leads Princeton University’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, which focuses on teaching undergraduate students the principles of republican government, natural law, and American constitutionalism.
Under Anderson’s leadership, EPPC will continue to be at the “center of the national debate over religious conviction in the public square and the moral norms that should inform our laws.” In his first Wall Street Journal op-ed as president, he urged Americans to “figure out how to coexist peacefully on” issues of religious liberty without sacrificing principle for the sake of expediency.
The restoration of the “E Pluribus Unum” – a people unified on principles, despite differences in policy – is the key to “rebuilding the cultural and moral order,” Anderson says, so that “more of our countrymen” enjoy the blessings of liberty.
EPPC features an impressive group of fellows that span denominational divides. Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish writers and intellectuals include Washington Post columnists Henry Olsen and Peter Wehner, the aforementioned Stanley Kurtz, Notre Dame law professor and bioethicist Carter Snead, and the Tikvah Visiting Fellow, Devorah Goldman.
EPPC fellows have published articles and essays in First Things, The Atlantic, National Review Online, The Washington Post, City Journal, and The New Atlantis. They regularly host events such as the William E. Simon lecture, which EPPC Distinguished Senior Fellow George Weigel gives annually, and the Faith Angle Forum, two-day conferences held twice each year featuring journalists and scholars discussing issues at the intersection of religion and politics.
One of the most influential Catholic writers and thinkers today, Weigel runs EPPC’s Catholic Studies program, which seeks to apply Catholic social teaching to public policy. The program is aimed at creating and maintaining “robust moral and cultural foundations,” which are “needed to sustain a society that is both free and virtuous.” Every summer in Kraków, Poland, the program runs the Tertio Millennio Seminar on the Free Society, which explores Pope John Paul II’s 1991 encyclical “Centesimus Annus,” along with other important documents in Catholic history.
The Catholic Women’s Forum, directed by Fellow Mary Rice Hasson, offers presentations, articles, and conferences on topics such as marriage, religious liberty, the family, and how respect for dignity should infuse human life.
Anderson promises that under his watch, EPPC will “continue to lead the way in applying timeless wisdom to the urgent challenges facing America and in defending against threats to human dignity and flourishing.” In these polarizing times, EPPC’s mission will be more essential than ever.
Mike Sabo is the editor of RealClear’s American Civics portal.