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The Political Theory of Hannah Arendt: The Problem of Evil and the Origins of Totalitarianism

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 1, 2012


“The Political Theory of Hannah Arendt: The Problem of Evil and the Origins of Totalitarianism” is a five-week school teacher seminar for sixteen participants to study three major works by political theorist Hannah Arendt.  Professor Kathleen Jones leads a seminar focusing on political theorist Hannah Arendt to consider topics such as terror, evil, violence, and democracy, because in a “post-9/11 world, Arendt’s wisdom seems more germane than ever.”  Before coming to the seminar, participants are expected to read Elizabeth Young-Bruehl’s biography of Arendt.  The seminar opens with a discussion of Arendt’s life and then follows with “perhaps the most disconcerting of the three Arendt texts,” Eichmann in Jerusalem.  The Origins of Totalitarianism, a dense, historical work, is taken up next; challenging in its own right, this work locates “the origins of terror and ideology within Western democratic societies.”  After participants immerse themselves in Arendt’s understanding of history and politics as it unfolds in The Origins of Totalitarianism, they explore related issues in The Human Condition, the most theoretical and the last work to be considered.  Guest presenters include Ange-Marie Hancock (University of Southern California), Danielle Celermajer (University of Sydney), and Roger Berkowitz (Bard College). The seminar takes place on the campus of Bard College, home to the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and the Humanities, an important destination for scholars and writers interested in Arendt.

Dates: June 24-July 27 (5 weeks)
Grantee Institutions: San Diego State University
Location: Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and the Humanities at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. An NEH Summer Seminar for school teachers enables sixteen participants to explore a topic or set of readings with an expert scholar. The core material of the seminar need not relate directly to the school curriculum; the principal goal of the seminar is to engage teachers in the scholarly enterprise and to expand and deepen their understanding of the humanities through reading, discussion, writing, and reflection.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


Full-time teachers in American K-12 schools, whether public, charter, independent, or religiously affiliated, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to apply to NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. Americans teaching abroad are also eligible if a majority of the students they teach are American citizens. Librarians and school administrators may also be eligible.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one. Eligibility criteria differ significantly between NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes and NEH Landmarks Workshops.

Please note: Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are available for current graduate students, who intend to pursue careers in K-12 teaching.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.