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Article

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The Democratic Mission of the University, 76 Albany Law Review 735 (2013)

Abstract

The university is a self-governing institution dedicated to the

discovery and dissemination of knowledge.' As a historical matter,

universities were not borne of the democratic impulse and many of

their grandest achievements are wholly unrelated to the

furtherance of democracy. Yet today they function in such a way in

the United States so as to enhance and strengthen the quality of its

democratic system.

Democracy is a system of collective self-governance in which the

people shape their public life. The leaders of government are

chosen by citizens and then held accountable for their actions

through a series of periodic elections. In this way, democracy exalts

popular choice. It also presumes, however, that this choice is

enlightened. Citizens need to understand the nature of the choices

that they face, and must possess the capacity to evaluate the

policies and practices of the government and its leaders. Although

unenlightened choice is still a choice, that kind of choice and the

democratic character of the political system that it supports are not

especially inspiring or worthy of our admiration.

Date of Authorship for this Version

2013

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