The Idea of America | Osher Lifelong Learning Institute | University of Miami

The Idea of America

OSH 790 / Non Credit
Course taught in: English
Locations: TBA
Instructors: Dr. Ed and Mrs. Lucy Harper

Course Description

The Idea of America is a discussion seminar designed by scholars associated with Colonial Williamsburg to explore the role of values in America's becoming a superpower and its future as a global leader. The success of America, founded as a small republic in a remote land about 240 years ago, came because of the values on which it was based, despite the fact that there are inherent tensions among the values.  Debates framed by these values, equality versus freedom, private wealth versus common wealth, law versus ethics, and unity versus diversity, have occurred in America from earliest times to today. 

Participants are asked to buy the new and expanded edition of Dr. John O. Wilson's book, The Idea of America: Our Values, Our Legacy, Our Future from Colonial Williamsburg Foundation by phone at 757-220-7536 and Kim Siebert will fill the orders. The book costs $25, with no shipping charges if ordered by phone. The book is also available for purchase on

The maximum number of participants for this class is 25. 

Week 1

 Introduction: Overview

Week 2

 Our Values

Week 3

 Our Legacy: Founding Ideals

Week 4

 Our Economy: A Legacy of Growth and Opportunity

Week 5

 Education: The Great Equalizer

Week 6

 We the People: A Nation of Immigrants

Ed Harper, PhD
, is an active OLLI member who earned a BA with Honors from Principia College in Government and Foreign Affairs and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.  He has held many high level executive positions, including vice president of Emerson Electric, executive vice president of the Campbell Soup Company, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads, and chief operating officer of American Security Group and was Chairman of the Government Affairs Council for the Financial Services Roundtable composed of the 100 largest financial institutions in the US. In the public sector, he is a former special assistant to President Nixon and a former Assistant to President Reagan as well as Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget.  Dr. Harper was on the faculty of the Political Science Department at Rutgers University where he lectured on American Government. 

Mrs. Lucy Harper holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Agnes Scott College with an emphasis on religion and religious philosophy courses. She earned a Master of Arts in English literature from The University of Virginia. She is a CPA and has taught college English courses and done tax work in various accounting firms. Lucy chairs various nonprofit organizations and boards. She is the Chair of the OLLI at UM Advisory Council. She has traveled extensively, including trips to Israel and Egypt.

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