Director named for ASU’s Center for Political Thought and Leadership

Donald T. Critchlow has been named as the director of the new Center for Political Thought and Leadership. The center will provide research and training for the next generation of local and national leaders on the foundational principles of good government, civic involvement, free markets and political liberty.

Critchlow, who came to ASU as the visiting Barry Goldwater Chair of American Institutions in 2010, is a professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. He has authored or edited 21 books, including his most recent work, “When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Moguls, Film Stars, and Big Business Remade American Politics” (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

A graduate of the University of California Berkeley with a doctorate in history, Critchlow is president of the Institute for Political History, a national nonprofit educational foundation established in 2000 to promote the civic and academic education of political history and thought. At ASU, he teaches courses on American conservatism, political thought, political conspiracy and contemporary American history.

Working with Kent Wright, an associate professor of history at ASU, Critchlow co-founded the Political Thought and Leadership certificate program, providing undergraduate students with a foundation in the history of politics and political thought with an emphasis on developing civic leadership. The program acquaints students with major thinkers in democratic ideas and includes invited speakers, social events and internships geared to develop leaders well-versed in the principles of democracy.

The center has already received significant external support. It will house the Jack Miller Library on Constitutional Principles, a significant collection of classical books on political liberty and fundamental principles at the heart of American civic, cultural and constitutional life, and the Journal of Policy History, a peer-reviewed academic quarterly focused on the application of historical perspectives to public policy studies. The Miller Center is a non-profit, non-partisan and non-sectarian organization dedicated to the support of scholarship, teaching and study of the central ideas and themes of American history and the broader traditions of Western Civilization.

Additionally, a five-year grant providing up to $1.129 million dollars from the Charles Koch Foundation, an organization that supports research and educational programs focused on exploring the sources of well-being, will provide seed funding for the center. A post-doctoral program, faculty-student community workshops, a lecture program, student reading groups and library will offer many of the center’s activities.

Critchlow said the center will seek to engage the larger community outside the university: “Participation from many internal and external partners will encourage community involvement, create a network to foster students’ careers and provide a path for scholars to speak to the larger world.”

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