The Montesquieu Forum, founded in 2008 with a grant from the Jack Miller Center, advances the study of the classical and European heritage that informed the American Founding.
The Forum supports course work on political philosophy, covering texts from the Bible and such ancient writers as Plato, Cicero, and Plutarch to the early modern writers like Francis Bacon, William Shakespeare, John Locke, and, of course, Baron de Montesquieu. Courses are taught by Roosevelt University philosophy professors Stuart Warner and Svetozar Minkov, as well by visiting scholars such as Ralph Lerner from the University of Chicago and the Montesquieu Forum's Postdoctoral Fellow, Benjamin Lynerd.
The Montesquieu Forum also presents an annual series of public lectures and conferences on these topics, hosted mainly on the Roosevelt University campus. It has also hosted three Summer Academies for high school teachers, two high school essay competitions on the Declaration of Independence, and an essay competition and conference for Roosevelt University Honors Students.
The Forum is named after Montesquieu for several reasons. First, Montesquieu was the most frequently quoted author on philosophical questions having to do with politics in the pre-revolutionary Colonial period of American history. Secondly, along with the English jurist William Blackstone, Montesquieu was the most important source of Constitutional reflections during the Founding period, particularly to the idea of separating governmental powers. Thirdly, Montesquieu was not a partisan of any political party: his writings on political matters are philosophical, not ideological. This is exactly the orientation of the Montesquieu Forum.
Montesquieu Forum Seminar and Reading Room
In the Spring of 2011, with the university support of Provost James Gandre and College of Arts & Sciences Dean Lynn Weiner, and the material support of the Jack Miller Center and Liberty Fund, the Montesquieu Forum Seminar and Reading Room was fashioned in room 720 of the Auditorium Building. The room consists of handmade tables and chairs from Oregon, handmade bookcases from Chicago, portraits of Montesquieu, Locke, Tocqueville, and Harriet Taylor, and a Replogle globe of the world. The room is used for seminars and classes related to the work of the Montesquieu Forum.