Submitted for undergraduate extra-credit: 54 lectures of Integrated Liberal Studies 205 & 206, which I wish I would have taken along with my other ILS Certificate courses while at UW-Madison so that I would have also have read the required classic works of political and economic philosophy. (Though listening to Anderson at 1.5X while mowing the lawn is probably preferable to sitting through his lectures live.)

While from the 1988-1989 academic year, these lectures are amazingly relevant to the current political discourse in the U.S. The sweep of the coursefrom the Athenian cradle of democracy and the beginnings of Western political and philosophical thought in ancient Greece, through rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the birth of Christianity and its ascendancy in feudal Christendom, the dissolution of the medieval synthesis in the Renaissance and the upheavals of the Reformation, the rise of the nation-state, the birth of science and the modern liberal tradition in the Enlightenment, all the way through Marxism to the progressive economics of Keynesgives broad context to understand the genealogy of ideas present in our current political debates about the proper role of government in a free society.

Even though these lectures are 15 years old, many of the issues addressed are if anything even more hotly debated today, from entitlement programs, to economic stimulus packages, to deficit spending, to gay marriage, to school vouchers. What I found especially rewarding was gaining a greater understanding the history of ideas, the intellectual framework, and the basic principles and values underpinning these practical policy issues. For example, being able to situate the Libertarian policies of the neo-conservative movement and the Tea Party in the context of classic (Lockean) liberalism and its conception of the good society as the one in which the individual is the ultimate arbiter of value whose needs are best met by free exchange with other individuals provides (this egalitarian liberal with) not only a basis for understanding but one for dialog when the logic and reality of the market fail in providing the equality and freedom to which we commonly aspire.