Patriotism and democracy kick off McDonald Center lecture series

American flag flies against blue sky
Photo by Brett Sayles

Mercer University’s Thomas C. and Ramona E. McDonald Center for America’s Founding Principles is kicking off its lecture series with talks on patriotism and democracy. On Sept. 11, Dr. Susan Hanssen, associate professor of history and chair of the department of history at the University of Dallas, will present a talk on George Washington and patriotism. The Oct. 16 event will feature Dr. Jerome Foss, professor of politics and the endowed director of the Saint Vincent Center for Catholic Thought and Culture at St. Vincent College. His talk is titled “What Flannery O’Connor’s Stories Can Teach Us About Democracy in America.”

“We are very excited to be kicking off this year’s lecture series with such fine scholars,” said Dr. Will Jordan, professor of political science and co-director of the McDonald Center. “Through their teaching and scholarship, they have all sought to better understand American life by taking seriously the sometimes competing ideals that have shaped the regime. In this sense, they do precisely what we hope to do at the McDonald Center: examine closely the intellectual foundations of a free and democratic society.”

Jordan added that while on campus, each of these scholars will teach a class in the American founding principles general education class.

Dr. Hanssen’s research interests include British and American history, and she has published extensively on the topic. She received her graduate degree in history from Rice University in Houston, Texas, and her undergraduate degree in history from Boston University (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa). She has been an adjunct professor for the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation at Georgetown University and a Garwood Fellow at the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.

Dr. Foss’s research interests include American political thought, Catholic political thought, literature and politics, and political philosophy. He has published extensively on the topics. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Dallas in politics and his master’s and doctorate at Baylor University in political science. He serves on the Board of the Society for Catholic Social Scientists and is a Fellow of the Center for Political and Economic Thought.

Both lectures will be from 6-7:15 p.m. in Mercer’s Presidents Dining Room in the University Center at 1501 Mercer University Drive, Macon. They are free and open to the public. For more information on the Center and its lecture series, visit

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 supplements 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 long-standing 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. For more information, visit