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What the President Can Learn About Freedom (2 of 7)

April 16, 2009 - Rufus Fears, political commentator and professor of classics at the University of Oklahoma, gave the keynote address in the Hauenstein Center's conference, "Barack Obama and the Lessons of Antiquity." Dr. Fears is David Ross Boyd Professor of Classics at the University of Oklahoma, where he holds the G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty. Professor Fears earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University and is a fellow of many distinguished organizations, such as the American Academy in Rome, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. His research has been supported by institutions such as the American Philosophical Society and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Before taking his post at the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Fears held teaching positions at Indiana University, where he rose from assistant professor to full professor, and Boston University, where he served as Chair of the Department of Classical Studies. Professor Fears is the author of four books, including The Cult of Virtues and Roman Imperial Ideology, and has published a three-volume edition of Selected Writings of Lord Acton, the great British historian of liberty. He has also published more than 100 articles and reviews, and other writings on ancient history, the history of liberty, and the lessons of history for our own day. President Barack Obama ran for office promising to catalyze change in America. Yet, any American president is going to operate in the context of much continuity: of thought, of habit and tradition, of political process. The founding fathers of President Obama's government inherited much from antiquity and from the old world. His challenge will be to enact change in the midst of overwhelming continuity. On April 16 and 17, classical scholars from around the country gathered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to put Barack Obama's presidency in the context of the American founding generation, and Greek and Roman antiquity.
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