Mercatus Center Announces Eight New Visiting Fellows with the Program on Pluralism and Civil Exchange

Arlington, VA—The Mercatus Center at George Mason University is pleased to announce a new cohort of eight Visiting Fellows with the Program on Pluralism and Civil Exchange. The Program, which launched in 2021, focuses on building pathways toward a free and peaceful society. 

The Program’s fellows represent a wide-ranging set of beliefs but are united by the ethos of the Program’s goal to establish a community of confident pluralists who will demonstrate tolerance, freedom of expression, and mutual forbearance within their communities and institutions. 

Dr. Ashley Berner will complete her latest book on educational pluralism, making the case for a shift in American education policy towards supporting educational options ranging from religious to secular modes of learning. Building from this research, Dr. Berner’s work will explore the conditions under which educational pluralism can result in better student outcomes and foster viewpoint diversity.

Dr. Tara Isabella Burton will build a body of research that explores the internet as a phenomenon that has shaped, and will continue to shape, our shared culture and moral assumptions. In addition, Dr. Burton’s work will analyze the valorization of the private self in our changing culture and moral frameworks. 

Dr. Sheena Mason will develop and launch Raceless Antiracism, an e-learning community for the public consisting of a small number of courses aimed at helping participants transcend beyond the conventional understandings of racism, drawing evidence from literary studies, human rights history, philosophy, journalism, and other social sciences. 

Dr. Joan McGregor will advance research on how educational institutions can effectively foster epistemic virtues (humility, intellectual honesty, curiosity, equal dignity) and develop habits that form moral capital among the next generation of students. She will also explore a potential curriculum for fostering intellectual and moral habits that may become a template for educational institutions seeking to establish approaches for boosting epistemic virtues. 

Dr. Luke Sheahan will study and advance the theory that individuals view their political communities through a monist or pluralist lens; drawing conclusions to how these frameworks affect the public’s treatment of the First Amendment and Freedom of Association, that both conceptions engender. 

Dr. Tevi Troy, a returning visiting fellow to the program, focuses on the historical lessons from previous challenges to liberalism that are relevant today. He will explore the changing relationships between US presidents and heads of corporations throughout history and how these dynamics have shaped regulations, political campaigns, populist rhetoric, institutional trust, and more. Additionally, Dr. Troy will foster a project exploring questions on what provisions allow federal agencies to pursue equity-based policies and the impacts this recent direction can have on policymaking. 

Dr. Kevin Vallier’s interests lie primarily in ethics and philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE). During his fellowship, he will share insights from his forthcoming book, All the Kingdoms of the World: On Radical Religious Alternatives to Liberalism, which addresses religious anti-liberalisms; making the case against this new wave of illiberalism. 

Dr. Graedon Zorzi will work to elevate the ideas of John Locke such that they are recognized as foundational to a liberal democratic republic. Dr. Zorzi’s research will communicate to a post-liberal audience that to reform American institutions towards virtue, we need not dismiss Locke’s ideas, but rather re-center them to establish a more robust pluralism. 

These eight fellows will be part of ongoing conversations about the core values necessary to build a free and open society, as well as the challenges to maintaining such a society.   

To learn more about the Program on Pluralism and Civil Exchange, please visit our website or contact Sarah Keenan at [email protected].  For media inquiries, please contact Matthew Boyer at 703-993-8094 or [email protected]