Derek A. Webb, a University of Notre Dame doctoral student in political science from Wyncote, Pa., has been awarded the first Wilson Carey McWilliams Fellowship in American Politics and Political Theory from the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. He was chosen from a field of 99 applicants across the country in a variety of fields that included history, political science, economics, American studies, international relations, and sociology.
The one-year fellowship, which is awarded to a graduate student in political science who is working on a dissertation that combines a blend of political theory and American politics, will provide a stipend and research support for Webb to continue his research and write his dissertation. Webb also will be paired with an academic mentor who is a leading national scholar in his field of study.
Webbs application was titledPaving the Rights Infrastructure: Individual Rights and Civic Virtues in the Presidencies of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.
Through a comparative study of the relationship between the rights and virtues in the presidencies of Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt, Webb is seeking to extend and challenge the role ofliberal virtues.He is demonstrating how different kinds of rights have required fundamentally different kinds of citizen virtue for their support. Challenging the thesis that liberalism embodies a comprehensive and self-sustaining conception of the good life, his research is revealing how liberal ends have occasionally been achieved through reliance upon the moral ideals of complementary, yet distinct, non-liberal traditions.
McWilliams, who died in 2005, was a political scientist with a storied career at Rutgers University. Author ofThe Idea of Fraternity in America,for which he won the National Historical Society Prize in 1974, he also was a prolific essayist whose works appeared in Commonweal and other journals.
The Miller Center is a leading nonpartisan institution dedicated to studying U.S. national and international policy, with a special emphasis on the American presidency.