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Beyond the Blue Podcast: ‘The Human Situation’ Explores the Role of the Individual in Society

By:    Published 11:17 am / April 9, 2012

The Human Situation” surveys ancient, modern and contemporary debates on the question of how the individual relates to civil society in this week’s Beyond the Blue podcast and Foundational Studies Program sample class. Is there a right way to be a person? Does the quality of our community somehow depend on whether people live that way? Special lecturer Stewart Gardner cracks open such questions.

Listeners can access the website featuring a series of faculty podcasts at or go directly to Gardner’s presentation. Visitors can download all podcasts and subscribe to receive automatic downloads of new content whenever they open iTunes.

In this podcast, Gardner examines how human beings are both individuals and members of communities, gaining their identities both through free choice and from their cultural surroundings. Socrates taught a science that gave life meaning through intense questioning, including self-questioning. Athens killed Socrates for his science. That old philosophy has been replaced by a modern science that puts the forces of nature to work for society. Among other things, this has radically changed the relationship between each individual and the community. One belief is that if individuals focus on their private lives and pursuits, the community will prosper and thrive. But others question whether this philosophy can really replace searching together for the meaning of life.

Gardner is a special lecturer in political science at Boise State, where he teaches courses in political philosophy, constitutional law, and American government. He currently is working on a book on English philosopher John Locke, the founder of modern liberal government.

This podcast is part of a series of presentations related to Boise State’s Foundational Studies Program. Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Martin Schimpf provides an introduction to the new general education program that focuses on essential learning and shared experiences. The Foundational Studies Program begins in fall 2012 and features an interdisciplinary curriculum that focuses on problem solving, communication, innovation and teamwork, ethics and diversity, and disciplinary outcomes. Upcoming podcast topics will be from faculty members on sample Foundational Studies Program classes.

The Beyond the Blue website has been developed to showcase the expertise and innovative spirit that exists in many fields at Boise State. Known for its unique blue turf and nationally ranked football program, Boise State is demonstrating creativity beyond the blue in faculty podcasts intended to introduce a variety of topics to casual listeners.

New faculty podcasts are being added on a regular basis, including:

The website contains bonus video and editorial content about the university, including its growth, research initiatives and student life. A related collection of faculty interviews also is accessible from the Reader’s Corner radio show hosted by Boise State President Bob Kustra on Boise State Public Radio.