Patrick Henry College
The ISI Guide profiles 134 colleges from which students can achieve a quality education, if they try. In a series of essays, it provides “comments by current students, professors and graduates, quotations from research studies and investigative articles, analyses of curricula, fond reminiscences, and horror stories.” It tells “which colleges have strong sports teams, vital, faith-filled chaplaincies, and good systems for providing academic advice.” Mostly, it explains how students can pick and choose from the offerings at these different schools in order to acquire a well-rounded education, which, according to ISI, must be deeply anchored in the type of comprehensive core curriculum that PHC already offers every student.
Writes ISI’s editors: “PHC centers its education on a modified version of the traditional core curriculum that we laud (and the near-disappearance of which almost everywhere we deplore). Patrick Henry students, regardless of major, must take courses such as “Theology of the Bible,” “Principles of Biblical Reasoning,” “Constitutional Law,” “Freedom’s Foundations,” and “Economics for the Citizen,” as well as core classes in logic, rhetoric, Western literature and history, and American history. This is an impressive curriculum.”
PHC and ISI have in general enjoyed amicable relations, since ISI’s goal, “to educate for liberty,” meshes well with PHC’s purpose. Dr. Mark Mitchell, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at PHC, writes for ISI and has lectured at their educational conferences. PHC’s Alexis de Tocqueville Society has hosted several ISI speakers on campus as well, and alumni Sarah Pride and Samantha Clark participated in year-long programs as ISI Honors Fellows. The College hopes to interact further with ISI in the future.
From the ISI profile on Patrick Henry College:
Patrick Henry College promises to “provide students with a broad background in classical languages, logic, rhetoric, biblical studies, history, English composition and literature, philosophy, science, and mathematics,” and to ensure that its students “encounter a multiplicity of ideas animating the world’s great leaders and thinkers of the past in order to see how God has worked in and continues to work in His creation.” Like many of the better-established traditionalist liberal arts colleges we cover in this book, PHC centers its education on a modified version of the traditional core curriculum that we laud (and the near-disappearance of which almost everywhere we deplore). Patrick Henry students, regardless of major, must take courses such as “Theology of the Bible,” “Principles of Biblical Reasoning,” “Constitutional Law,” “Freedom’s Foundations,” and “Economics for the Citizen,” as well as core classes in logic, rhetoric, Western literature and history, and American history.
This is an impressive curriculum. We especially recommend, for interested students, Patrick Henry’s rigorous “political theory track,” directed by assistant professor of philosophy Mark T. Mitchell. Housed in the Department of Classical Liberal Arts (an encouraging moniker, that) this program is spoken of highly by participating students. Besides Mitchell, a very incomplete list of other excellent professors at PHC would include Gene Edward Veith, professor of literature, and President Graham Walker, professor of government. Recent stories in the secular and educational press have highlighted PHC’s role as an incubator for conservative Christian activists, as many undergrads at Patrick Henry seek to apply their learning and traditional biblical theology to contemporary issues of policy. Many students at PHC intern at think tanks and activist organizations such as Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, and other groups that lobby on Capitol Hill for pro-family legislation. The school promises prospective students that they will have the chance to put their “knowledge to work” as they “undertake practical professional training.”
“You could find yourself tackling real-life problems, working alongside experts in and around our nation’s capital, putting your knowledge to work in congressional offices, intelligence and law enforcement agencies, think tanks, newspapers, publishing houses, private and home schools— even the White House.”
PHC’s faculty and students cohere firmly around the conservative evangelical vision of the school’s founder and chancellor, longtime homeschooling-rights advocate Michael Farris. Accrediting agencies and critics in the evangelical academic community have worried about PHC’s success at reconciling the aspirations of a traditional liberal arts education with its commitment to activist training. However, the recent appointment of the distinguished scholar Graham Walker as president of the school is evidence that the school is committed to achieving a healthy balance between free academic inquiry and its commitment to a particular civic-religious position. Check www.collegeguide.org this fall for a full profile on Patrick Henry and several other newer institutions.