Renowned political scientist Francis Fukuyama to speak at GV

By David Specht | 11/3/14 12:41am


The mission of the Hauenstein Center at Grand Valley State University is to foster a community of ethical, effective leaders for the twenty-first century. The main way in which they strive to hit that mark is by hosting world-class talks, debates and conferences that feature renowned public intellectuals. This Thursday, the center will welcome Francis Fukuyama, an American political scientist, political economist and author.

Fukuyama will be speaking on his latest work, “Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy.” The work focuses on how societies develop strong, impersonal and accountable political institutions, beginning with the French Revolution and touching on events as recent as the Arab Spring. The talk is free, open to the public and begins at 7 p.m. in the L.V. Eberhard Center on the Pew Campus.

According to Gleaves Whitney, director of Grand Valley State University’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, it’s an event that the center is particularly excited for.

“Fukuyama is probably one of the top 10 political thinkers in the United States,” Whitney said. “He has written books that change the way people think of how America relates to the world and how it accepts political change inside our own borders.”

Published in 1992, “The End of History and the Last Man” is recognized as Fukuyama’s most successful work. It argued that the spread of Western ideology, such as free market capitalism and liberal democracy, could signal the end of humanity’s sociocultural evolution. Since this release, Fukuyama’s viewpoints have changed, as has his writing.

Fukuyama’s latest book looks into the deep dysfunctions of contemporary American politics. He examines the affect that corruption has on a nation’s government and how certain societies have managed to successfully do away with that corruption.

Whitney believes that the audience will gain an appreciation for all of the cultural and political factors that are needed to keep the system going.

“We have to work hard as citizens to tend those factors, to make sure our culture and our politics provide for an orderly way to conduct our political business,” he said.

According to Whitney, the events that the center hosts are an opportunity for students to build on the educational foundation that traditional coursework lays.

“We always want to see students come to these events,” he said. “It’s one way that the center can add to the education of students, by seeing these speakers that they normally wouldn’t be exposed to.”

Beyond Fukuyama's writing, he has been a Senior Fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University since 2010 and has instructed at both the School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University and the School of Public Policy at George Mason University. Even for non-students, Whitney notes that the his ideas could prove to be invaluable to one’s understanding of the U.S. political system.

“Francis Fukuyama’s visit will provide one of the most intellectually stimulating events in West Michigan this year. You won’t want to miss it.”

While the event is free and open to the public, seating is limited and an RSVP is recommended. To RSVP and find out more about the upcoming presentation, along with other events hosted by the Hauenstein Center, visit hauensteincenter.org.

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