Mission Statement

Tocqueville Portrait

The mission of the Tocqueville Forum for Political Understanding is to encourage a deeper engagement with the intellectual, artistic, and cultural traditions that form the basis of the American federal democratic republic.  Oriented by the Great Books, the Tocqueville Forum’s programs are intended to assist all undergraduates at Georgetown University to think through meaning of the American political experiment, its place within the larger panorama of Western thought and history, and to engage with the Great Books of other civilizational traditions, in order to nurture mutual understanding.  Its goal is at once intellectual and civic: to prepare students to become thoughtful citizens, aware of both the novel and perennial challenges they will face.

Because America and the West are now engaged with other civilizations as they never have been before, the Forum also seeks to emulate Alexis de Tocqueville’s penetrating exploration of the origins of, and prospects for, the “democratic age”. This critical examination is especially important at a time when some retain unbounded hope and others unwavering pessimistic expectations for the twenty-first century.

As Tocqueville attempted to bridge the divide and foster understanding between the Old and New Worlds, so, too, does the Tocqueville Forum try to accomplish similar goals for the twenty-first century, by entering into conversation with the philosophers, writers, and artists to whom we return again and again for insight and understanding.