Reclaiming Western Civilization
November 22, 2016 12:00 ET

By mid-Twentieth Century, the Core Curriculum of required courses that was inherited from some distant past had become an artifact that most administrators continued from habit, but with no thought to content. The history of the West was usually taught in required courses that attempted to survey history of the West without examining why that history is unique. Sixty-five years later, the United States faces a rising Islam and American college students are taught nothing about the West and the conflict between the West and Islam from 700 to 1592. Something was lost that we must hope will be regained. Some programs attempt that recovery:

  • Carthage College's Western Heritage program, Kenosha, Wisconsin.
  • The Phronesis Program at the University of Houston.
  • The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization at Texas Tech University.
  • Campion University (Australia), Centre for the Study of the Western Tradition. 

That's about it. Higher education is now dominated by Multiculturalism and programs that emphasize Global citizenship, while the civilization of the West is neglected.

Join our panelists, Drs. Richard J. Bishirjian, Peter Wyatt Wood, and Stephen H. Balch, as they define “the West,” explain why an understanding of Western Civilization is imperative today, and describe how its core elements can be taught most effectively to current and future students. 


Dr. Richard J. Bishirjian earned a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Ph.D. in Government and International Studies from the University of Notre Dame. At Notre Dame he studied with Gerhart Niemeyer, Eric Voegelin, Stanley Parry, Ralph McInerney and others. He did advanced study with Michael Oakeshott at the London School of Economics and studied Sanskrit at the Southern Asia Institute, Columbia University.

Dr. Bishirjian taught at universities and colleges in Indiana, Texas and New York and is the author of The Conservative Rebellion, published by St. Augustine's Press in 2015, a history of political theory and editor of A Public Philosophy Reader. Dr. Bishirjian's The Coming Death and Future Resurrection of American Higher Education will be published by St. Augustine's Press.

Appointed to the Office of the President-Elect in 1980, he served as a Team Leader with responsibility for the National Endowment for the Humanities and was appointed by President Reagan as Acting Associate Director of the United States International Communication Agency, formerly USIA. He also served on the staff of the United States Senate.

Beginning with the fall of the Berlin wall, he worked in Eastern and Central Europe as a privatization consultant and assisted associates of Poland's President, Lech Walesa, to reap the rewards of the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 2000, he founded Yorktown University, a for-profit Internet university, and served as the university's President from 2000-2016. Dr. Bishirjian is now President of American Academy of Distance Learning and is engaged in raising public awareness of weaknesses in the curricula of American colleges and universities and is building a Center for Western Civilization. This seminar is the first project of the Center.

Peter Wyatt Wood

Peter Wood is an anthropologist and former provost. He was appointed president of the National Association of Scholars in January 2009. Before that he served as NAS's executive director (2007-2008), and as provost of The King's College in New York City (2005-2007). Dr. Wood was a tenured member of the Anthropology Department at Boston University, where he also held a variety of administrative positions, including associate provost and president John Silber's chief of staff. He also oversaw the university's scholarly publications and served as acting university librarian.

He received his Ph.D. in anthropology in 1987 from the University of Rochester. His dissertation, Quoting Heaven, examined the emergence of an American folk religion and pilgrimage center in rural Wisconsin. His undergraduate degree is from Haverford College (1975) and he has a master's degree in library science from Rutgers University (1977).

Dr. Wood is the author of A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now (Encounter Books, 2007) and of Diversity: The Invention of a Concept (Encounter Books, 2003) which won the Caldwell Award for Leadership in Higher Education from the John Locke Foundation. These books extend his anthropological interest in examining emergent themes in modern American culture.

In addition to his scholarly work, Dr. Wood has published several hundred articles in print and online journals, such as Partisan Review and National Review Online, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Dr. Steve Balch

Dr. Stephen H. Balch became the director of The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization in September 2012. Before coming to Texas Tech, Dr. Balch served for twenty-five years as founding president and chairman of the National Association of Scholars (NAS), a Princeton, New Jersey-based organization of higher education professionals dedicated to the traditional principles of liberal arts education.

During his years at the NAS, Dr. Balch worked to encourage universities and colleges across America to develop new academic programming dealing with Western civilization, "The Great Books," and the study of free institutions. He also played a major role in the founding of a variety of other academic organizations devoted to enriching scholarship and public discussion of higher education issues. In 2007, his work was honored by the National Humanities Medal, bestowed by President George W. Bush in a White House ceremony.

Dr. Balch holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley. Between 1974 and 1987, he served on the faculty of the Government and Public Administration Department of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the City University of New York. In 2009, he received the Jeane Kirkpatrick Academic Freedom Award. Dr. Balch has written on higher education issues for a variety of publications and co-authored The Vanishing West: 1964-2010, a report that documents the decline of the study of Western civilization in America's universities.


Deseret News

The Vanishing West

How the West Was Won

Western Civilization’s Defenders

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