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The Freedom and Citizenship Program






The Freedom and Citizenship Program

Professor Casey Blake (left) and the 2010 Teagle Program students.

The Freedom and Citizenship program is a partnership project of the Center for American Studies and the Double Discovery Center at Columbia University, with financial support from the Teagle Foundation and the Jack Miller Center. The program seeks to introduce students to college-level work, place their experiences as twenty first-century New Yorkers in a historical conversation that dates back to the ancient world, and prepare them for lives as active, responsible citizens.

Each year the Center for American Studies and DDC select a small group of rising seniors from public high school students, who are invited to campus for a rigorous three-week seminar that examines major philosophical works on the meanings of freedom and citizenship from the classical period to the present. Led by Roosevelt Montas, Director of Columbia's Core Curriculum, the seminar emphasizes close reading and analysis of works by Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, the American Founders, Lincoln, Du Bois, Dewey, King, and others. Several Columbia faculty have participated as visitors to the seminar, including Columbia College Professors Eric Foner (History), Andrew Delbanco (American Studies), and Casey Blake (History and American Studies).

In addition to attending the seminar, students work closely with undergraduate tutors and a graduate student coordinator on improving their reading, writing, and study skills. The tutors and coordinator also join the students on field trips, which have included walking history tours and a visit to the United Nations. We seek in these activities to foster a community of intellectually ambitious students that might not be available in their high schools.

After the completion of the seminar, students collaborate on a year-long project that explores an aspect of civic life in contemporary New York. The 2009-2010 Teagle students developed a website and blog, Informed and Involved, on New York City politics and the high school curriculum, and completed the DDC Oral History Project telling the story of the founding and evolution of the Double Discovery Center. The 2014-2015 Teagle students created a website featuring their film and radio productions. They also published a newspaper called The Citizen.

The Freedom and Citizenship Program was founded by Professor Casey N. Blake. He works on modern American intellectual and cultural history, with an emphasis on the relationship between artistic modernism and cultural criticism.  His publications include Beloved Community:  The Cultural Criticism of Randolph Bourne, Van Wyck Brooks, Waldo Frank, and Lewis MumfordThe Arts of Democracy: Art, Public Culture, and the State, and The Armory Show at 100: Modernism and Revolution—the last a catalogue for a major exhibition on the centennial of the Armory Show at the New-York Historical Society for which he served as Senior Historian.  He also writes regularly for CommonwealDissentRaritan, and other journals of opinion.

Professor Blake came to Columbia in 1999 as founding director of the Center for American Studies after directing American Studies programs at Indiana University and Washington University, and teaching at Reed College.  While at Columbia Professor Blake has overseen the development of a civic engagement initiative within the Center, which has as its centerpiece the “Freedom and Citizenship” partnership program with the Double Discovery Center.  He is serving as acting director of the Center in 2012-13. 

Visit the Teagle Dreamers website.


Read more about The Teagle Program in Columbia News.

Participating faculty and Double Discovery students talk about the Teagle program, which offers college-level coursework based on the University's Core Curriculum. (5:49)













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