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New Book of Essays, Character and the Future of the American University, Examines Late Pepperdine Professor James Q. Wilson’s Seminal Work



February 1, 2023 – Malibu, CA – Pepperdine University Press’ newest book, Character and the Future of the American University: A Pathway Forward with James Q. Wilson’s Moral Sense, features never-before-published essays written by 13 of the nation’s preeminent thinkers to examine the growing significance of James Q. Wilson’s seminal work, Moral Sense. This collection, edited by James R. Wilburn, Dean Emeritus of Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy, provides insight through lenses ranging from political science and public policy to the humanities and the social and natural sciences.
One of the most influential social scientists of the past century, Wilson believed that human beings’ innate moral sense holds profound promise for dispelling the darkness that threatens our democracy. Including essays by Wilson, his colleagues, and other distinguished scholars, this book expands on that idea, exploring how reintegrating discussions of morality and character into university curricula could help shape the next generation.
“Today, America’s universities face historic challenges and critical decisions. The hostility in many colleges and universities towards any emphasis on character or a moral sense is poisonous to the whole nation,” said Wilburn.

The development of tomorrow’s public leadership—and the very survival of a free society—are at stake. This work seeks to discover if a renewed emphasis on character offers the solution. More timely today than ever, Wilson’s thought-provoking message will challenge and inspire readers both inside and outside academia.

Character and the Future of the American University dives deeply into topics such as public policy and moral responsibility, American exceptionalism, and the role of moral sense in the public policy classroom with contributions from:

  • Henry E. Brady: Monroe Deutsch Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley
  • John J. Diiulio Jr.: Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Politics, Religion, and Civil Society, University of Pennsylvania
  • William A. Galston: Senior Fellow and Ezra K. Zilkha Chair, Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program; College Park Professor, University of Maryland
  • Victor Davis Hanson: Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution; Inaugural Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor, Pepperdine University School of Public Policy
  • Robert Kaufman: Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University School of Public Policy
  • Jack H. Knott: Dean of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University
  • Harvey C. Mansfield: William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Government, Harvard University
  • R. Shep Melnick: Thomas P. O'Neill, Jr. Professor of American Politics, Boston College; Co-Chair, Harvard Program on Constitutional Government
  • Mark H. Moore: Research Professor, Harvard Kennedy School
  • James Piereson: President and Trustee, William E. Simon Foundation; Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute
  • Sally Satel: Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
  • Scott Soames: Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Director of the School of Philosophy, University of Southern California
  • James R. Wilburn: Dean Emeritus, Graziadio Business School at Pepperdine University; Inaugural Dean Emeritus, School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University
  • James Q. Wilson, who taught at the University of Chicago, Harvard, UCLA, and Pepperdine University
  • David Brooks, New York Times columnist and author of The Road to Character

Character and the Future of the American University is now available for purchase in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon. A hardcover edition can be purchased on the Pepperdine University Press website.

About Pepperdine University
Founded in 1937, Pepperdine University is an independent, Christian university located 30 miles west of Downtown Los Angeles in scenic Malibu, California. The University enrolls approximately 10,300 students across its flagship liberal arts school, Seaver College; the Caruso School of Law; the Graziadio Business School; the Graduate School of Education and Psychology; and the School of Public Policy. Pepperdine is committed to the highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values, where students are strengthened for lives of purpose, service, and leadership. Follow Pepperdine on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.


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