MACON – Mercer University’s Thomas C. and Ramona E. McDonald Center for America’s Founding Principles on March 17 will host its ninth A.V. Elliott Conference on Great Books and Ideas focusing on the theme “On Xenophon.”

This year’s virtual conference includes nine scholars from across the U.S. presenting their work as panelists.

The conference is free and open to the public. Presentations by each panelist have been posted on the McDonald Center webpage, and question-and-answer sessions for each of the three panels will be held live via Zoom this Thursday.

“We’ve been doing a student/faculty reading group all year on the works of Xenophon, and we’re really excited to have nine scholars of such quality to join us for this year’s conference,” said Dr. Will Jordan, associate professor of political science and co-director of the McDonald Center. “We’ve prerecorded the presentations and will spend our time on March 17 with a live Q&A with the panelists.”

The first panel, scheduled for 1 p.m., is on “Xenophon’s Socrates” and will feature Dr. Thomas R. Martin, professor and Jeremiah W. O’Connor Jr. Chair in Classics at the College of the Holy Cross; Dr. Christopher Nadon, associate professor of government at Claremont McKenna College; and Dr. Richard Ruderman, associate professor of political science at the University of North Texas.

The second panel, scheduled for 2:30 p.m., is on “Xenophon’s Cyrus” and will feature Dr. Peter Ahrensdorf, James B. Duke Professor of Political Science at Davidson College; Dr. Wayne Ambler, associate professor emeritus and former director of the Herbst Program for Engineering, Ethics and Society at the University of Colorado Boulder; and Dr. Carol McNamara, associate director for public programs for the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership and senior lecturer at Arizona State University.

The third panel, scheduled for 4 p.m., is on “Xenophon the Historian” and will feature Dr. Richard Avramenko, professor of political theory at the University of Wisconsin–Madison; Dr. Gregory A. McBrayer, assistant professor of political science at Ashland University; and Dr. Paul Rahe, professor of history and Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in The Western Heritage at Hillsdale College.

The McDonald Center for America’s Founding Principles has held an annual Conference on Great Books and Ideas since 2008. That conference was endowed with a $1 million gift from alumnus and trustee A.V. Elliott in November 2012. Elliott, a 1956 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who majored in history and Christianity, went on to found Elliott Machine Shop, a 100-employee company in Macon. His success, he said, was in part due to his ability to think critically at important moments, a skill he honed in his humanities courses at Mercer.

About the Thomas C. and Ramona E. McDonald Center for America’s Founding Principles

The Thomas C. and Ramona E. McDonald Center for America’s Founding Principles exists to supplement Mercer University’s excellent liberal arts program with a redoubled commitment to the foundational texts and ideas that have shaped Western Civilization and the American political order. This focus on the core texts of the Western tradition helps to revitalize a cross-centuries dialogue about citizenship, human rights, and political, economic and religious freedom, thereby deepening the moral imagination and fostering civic and cultural literacy.

The McDonald Center’s programming includes the annual A.V. Elliott Conference on Great Books and Ideas, faculty-student reading groups, a general education course on America’s Founding Principles, summer Great Books programs for high school teachers and students, and undergraduate research fellowships. All programming is designed to enhance Mercer’s longstanding role as a distinctive home of liberal learning, a place where serious students come to live the life of the mind and emerge more thoughtful and engaged citizens.