First cohort graduates from ASU's Master of Arts in Classical Liberal Education and Leadership program
Danny Wright, Anthony Maratea say the graduate program equipped them with the knowledge to further careers in education, public affairs
The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University announces its two first graduates of the Master of Arts in Classical Liberal Education and Leadership program, Danny Wright and Anthony Maratea, who defended their dissertations in April 2022.
Rooted in the study of classical texts and liberal education, the school's Master of Arts program launched in 2020 provides educators and leaders in both private and public sectors with the in-depth intellectual background to approach a range of 21st-century challenges.
“We congratulate Danny and Tony on all their hard work and wish them the best of success in their future endeavors,” said Professor Paul Carrese, director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. “Our program offers a liberal arts curriculum in the heart of ASU by blending the rigorous study of fundamental ideas about humanity with civic thought and preparation for leadership."
Wright, who coupled a bachelor’s degree in political science at ASU with a career in the military, says he is grateful for the opportunity to complete his studies in political thought through this master's program.
“This program was the perfect route to complete my education, and I now have a good grasp of political thought and discourse,” said Wright, who defended a dissertation on American civil-military relations with a reflection on Machiavelli’s writings. “It also offered me content on leadership as it refers to the military. I attended an entire course on Lincoln, for example, a leader who changed the way we think about freedom, justice, the country and the world. Courses such as that were exactly what I was looking for."
In the spirit of liberal and civic education, the program invites students to engage with works of classical political philosophy and ethics, foundational texts and documents in American political thought and constitutionalism, significant tracts in economics and history, and seminal works in literature.
Taught by nationally renowned scholars, the program combines liberal education, civic education in American principles and institutions, and the study of the art of statesmanship. Since it is grounded on humanity’s perennial questions, the program is an opportunity for professionals in all industries to strengthen critical thinking, pedagogical and leadership skills.
I now have a good grasp of political thought and discourse.
– Danny Wright
Tony Maratea, a teacher at Great Hearts Academy, saw in the program a chance to deepen his understanding of classical education. He defended a dissertation about “Gorgias,” a Socratic dialogue written by Plato around 380 B.C.
“I was very excited to be amongst the first two graduates and set a high bar for this program,” Maratea said. “I’ve always wanted to continue my education, but I thought I would have to go to California or the East Coast to find a graduate degree in classical education. It is remarkable to find this program right here in Arizona that was perfect for me, a program that follows through on its commitment to take liberal education seriously. I had never expected that ASU, such a large university, would become my home to study liberal arts in a small learning environment.”
He was drawn to this program through the school's Annual Constitution Day Lecture in 2017.
“Then I heard that Professor Catherine Zuckert was coming to ASU to teach a course at (the school's) new (master's) program,” he said. “I’ve spent my career reading professor Zuckert’s books. I couldn’t believe that she would be right here at ASU, so I decided to apply for the program and got accepted.”
Students in the master's program examine texts written by a range of thinkers and writers, including Aristotle, Locke, Jane Austen, Montesquieu, James Madison, Lincoln, Cicero and Churchill, to name a few.
“Classical education is an invitation to be humble. These authors may help us form better responses to current challenges by inviting us to break down our thoughts and examine texts that are insightful still today," said Maratea, who teaches classical education.
"These texts were relevant in Ancient Greece and are still relevant today,” said Maratea, adding that he is glad he’s earned a master’s degree in something that he cares deeply about.
He plans on applying for either a doctorate degree in political philosophy or a master’s degree in education to continue his journey.
The program is an integrated, interdisciplinary course of study that is student-centered, employing the Socratic method of classroom dialogue and fostering a learning community oriented to the classical, holistic pursuit of knowledge.
“In the Socratic method, students are not passive recipients of knowledge as if you could transfer it from one line to another,” Carrese said.
And now students across the country can attend this program because it has recently been approved to offer synchronous online seminars in addition to its in-person courses taught in Arizona during fall, spring and summer semesters, and in Philadelphia in the summer of 2023. Starting in fall 2022, students will be able to enroll in live online courses taught in fall, spring and summer semesters.
With several financial aid opportunities, students are able to reduce out-of-pocket costs through fellowships.
“(The school) has brought in impressive funding to help students go through this program,” Maratea said.
These funding options include the Lyceum Fellowships in Classical Liberal Education and Leadership, the Harry V. Jaffa Graduate Fellowships for students interested in political thought and American civic leadership, and the Cook Family Graduate Scholarships to classical teachers working at Great Hearts.