Why Institutions Matter: Three Lectures on Breakdown and Renewal
Charles E. Test, M.D. '37 Distinguished Lectures Series
Yuval Levin, Editor, National Affairs; Hertog Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center
Lecture 1: A Crisis of Confidence
Everybody says Americans are “losing faith” in our society’s institutions, but we rarely stop to consider what this means. What is an institution? What does it mean to have “faith” in institutions? And how does our changing understanding of the purpose and integrity of American institutions relate to the profound social crisis our country has been living through?
Lecture 2: Institutional Confusion
Our changing understanding and expectations of institutions become clearer when we consider some prominent examples. How might the state of the American family, the branches of our federal government, the university, journalism, and other key institutions reflect deeper changes in America’s political, social, and cultural life?
Lecture 3: A Path to Renewal
Understanding how our institutions and our expectations of them have changed can help us articulate a key part of what is missing in our national life—and so a key source of the frustration that reigns in our politics. But might seeing that also help us see how to address that frustration, help us replenish some of our spent social capital, and help our country better address its 21st-century challenges?
Yuval Levin is the editor of National Affairs and the vice president and Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He is also a senior editor of The New Atlantis and a contributing editor to National Review and the Weekly Standard. He has been a member of the White House domestic policy staff (under President George W. Bush), executive director of the President’s Council on Bioethics, and a congressional staffer. His essays and articles have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, First Things, and many others, and he is the author, most recently, of The Fractured Republic: Renewing America's Social Contract in the Age of Individualism. He holds a Ph.D. from the Committee on Social Thought at The University of Chicago.