In memoriam: J. Peter Euben

The Politics Department is saddened by the passing of Professor Emeritus Peter Euben in May of this year.

June 13, 2018


Professor Euben's career at UC Santa Cruz spanned over 30 years (1968 - 2002). 

Euben grew up in New York City and received his education at Swarthmore College. He earned a bachelor's degree (philosophy and political science) while participating in Civil Rights sit-ins at Woolworth lunch counters. He studied China and political science at Berkeley and received his masters and doctoral degrees while participating in anti-war demonstrations. He was strongly influenced by the free speech movement and his professors taught him to scrutinize democracy's early roots. "These seemingly archaic texts could give you a radical perspective on the present".

At Santa Cruz one of his first classes was "Political Responsibility", a course he co-taught with a philosopher and mathematician. Later, his "Political Freedom" class - developed in the early 80's - was one of the most popular on campus, mixing novels and plays with ancient Greek texts. 

After leaving Santa Cruz in 2002 he taught at Duke University as the Kenan Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Ethics. A former Duke student recently recalled his time in Professor Euben's class: Duke Chronicle letter

His academic work was celebrated with a conference in 2012 "Tragic Vision, Democratic Hope: A Conference in Honor of J. Peter Euben".

Professor Euben received five teaching awards over his career. Nearing his retirement, Peter reflected on his teaching.  "All this speaks to the importance of establishing a dialogue among the students and between them and me - even in a class of 75. Of course, dialogue has become a cliché: who is against dialogue? But too many dialogues are covert monologues. My idea and practice of dialogue is more substantial in intent (if not in execution). It entails becoming a student of my students in order to become a better teacher of them and, just as important, having them see me do that." 

See the related link for an article penned by Professor Euben.

And his "Final Lecture: Political Freedom".

Euben wrote and co-authored many books including Corrupting the Youth, Debating Moral Education, The Tragedy of Political Theory and Athenian Political Thought. 

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