The Program in the History of Ideas has a distinguished history at Brandeis. Its stellar faculty – Herbert Marcuse, Alasdair MacIntyre, Philip Rieff, Aaron Gurwitch, Kurt Wolff, Stephen Toulmin, Frank Manuel, Lewis Coser and others – were members of that near-lost species, the intelligentsia. To be sure, all of these figures differed among themselves – indeed vigorous scholarly and ideological controversy was an impressive and important part of their legacy.
Yet they represented a distinctive tradition in American academic life, one which had a profound influence on their colleagues and students. Many of their students – Evelyn Keller, Michael Walzer, Michael Sandel, James Miller, Seyla BenHabib – became eminent academics.
In recent years, when faculty retirements and departures remained unreplaced, the concentration on the history of ideas survived in the devoted energies of Sam Schweber and Steven Harris. The intellectual assumptions and educational objectives of the original Program in the History of Ideas remain both sound and bold. They are our aims in continuing and reviving the program in a new form.