American History Seminar
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About the Seminar

The 20th Century Presidency


The Council of Independent Colleges is pleased to announce a multidisciplinary seminar for full-time faculty members in history, political science, and related fields on “The 20th Century Presidency.” The seminar, cosponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, will be held at Stanford University’s Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Center in Washington, DC. There is no fee to participate. Room, board, and books will be covered, along with a portion of travel expenses, thanks to a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The seminar will explore characteristics of 20th century presidential leadership and several individual presidents and their presidencies. Sessions will examine effective leadership and what made some presidents more effective than others. Participants will consider qualities of vision and the ability to communicate it to the mass of Americans; pragmatism or political flexibility to deal with changing economic, political, and social conditions; charisma or the power of personal persuasion; trust, credibility, or the conviction that the president is honest and reliable; and consensus or the ability to knit together broad coalitions that support a president’s policies.

The seminar will focus on the administrations of three 20th century presidents. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency will be considered in the context of the Great Depression and World War II, with participants discussing questions such as: Was the New Deal a revolution in U.S. domestic economics and politics, how do scholars evaluate Roosevelt’s foreign policy leadership during the build-up to Pearl Harbor, and how do they assess his diplomatic and military leadership during the Second World War? John F. Kennedy’s presidency will be reviewed in the context of the Cold War, with participants considering: Why does Kennedy, who had the seventh-briefest presidency in the country’s history, hold front rank among Americans in polls that evaluate recent presidents? Lyndon Johnson’s presidency will be discussed in the context of the Great Society and Vietnam, with participants considering: How do historians evaluate Johnson’s domestic and foreign policy leadership?

Seminar Leader

Robert Dallek headshotRobert Dallek is professor of history emeritus at UCLA. He has been a Montgomery Fellow and a visiting professor at Dartmouth College and now teaches courses on the presidency for Stanford in Washington. He is the author of numerous books, including Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House; Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power; Lyndon B. Johnson, Portrait of a President; the number one New York Times best-seller, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963; and winner of a Bancroft Prize, Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932–1945. Dallek is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Society of American Historians, which he served as president of in 2004–2005.

Current Status

Up to 25 participants were selected by competitive nomination. All full-time faculty members in history, political science, and related fields at CIC member institutions are eligible. Faculty members who wish to participate must be nominated by the chief academic officer of the nominee's institution.

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Current Status

Up to 25 participants will be selected by competitive nomination. All full-time faculty members in history, political science, and related fields at CIC member institutions are eligible. Faculty members who wish to participate must be nominated by the chief academic officer of the nominee's institution.

Selection of participants will be announced by March 3, 2017.

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Content Editor

​Up to 25 participants will be selected by competitive nomination. All full-time faculty members in history, political science, and related fields at CIC member institutions are eligible. Faculty members who wish to participate must be nominated by the chief academic officer of the nominee's institution. The nomination deadline is January 23, 2017.

Selection of participants will be announced by March 3, 2017.

To submit a nomination online, please refer to the brochure and nomination form:

Location and Expenses

​The seminar was held July 23–27, 2017, at Stanford University's Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Center in Washington, DC.

Room, board, and books was covered by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Participants or their institutions are expected to provide transportation to and from New Haven, however, CIC will reimburse up to $400 in travel-related expenses following the seminar.

Contact Information

​Questions regarding the seminar on American History should be directed to Stephen Gibson, CIC director of programs, at sgibson@cic.nche.edu or (202) 466-7230.