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September 2014 Founders' Evening

September 5, 2014



On September 4, 2014 FORR held its annual Founders’ Dinner, featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Edward Larson of Pepperdine University. Professor Larson spoke on the topic, “Washington, Reagan, and Character Based Leadership.” George Washington saved the United States by coming out of retirement to lead the Constitutional Convention and serve as America’s first president. Professor Larson drew parallels between George Washington's and Ronald Reagan’s leadership, concluding that both men shared a deep sense of humility, a belief in Divine inspiration behind America, and and understanding that America has a unique role in the world based upon its commitment to individual liberty and a Constitutional Government serving its people. Professor Larson concluded that it is appropriate to compare Reagan with America’s greatest Presidents, including Washington, and that President Reagan was one of America’s greatest leaders in history.


Edward J. Larson, Ph.D.


Ed Larson holds the Hugh and Hazel Darling Chair in Law and is University Professor of History at Pepperdine University. Originally from Ohio with a PhD in the history of science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and law degree from Harvard, Larson has lectured on all seven continents and taught at Stanford Law School, University of Melbourne, Leiden University, and the University of Georgia, where he chaired the History Department. Prior to become a professor, Larson practiced law in Seattle and served as counsel for the US House of Representatives in Washington, DC. He received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Ohio State University but still roots for the University of Wisconsin in football.


Recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in History and numerous other awards for writing and teaching, Larson is the author or co-author of fourteen books and over one hundred published articles. His 2015 book, The Return of George Washington: Uniting the States, 1783-1789, was a New York Times Bestseller and resulted in Larson being invited to deliver the 2016 Supreme Court Historical Society lecture in Washington, give the annual Gaines Lecture at Mount Vernon, and serve as a featured presenter for the Library of Congress's Madison Council event. His other books, which have been translated into over twenty languages, include An Empire of Ice: Scott Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science; A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America's First Presidential Campaign; and the Pulitzer Prize winning Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion. Larson's articles have appeared in such varied publications as Nature, Atlantic Monthly, Science, Scientific American, Time, Wall Street Journal, American History, The Guardian, and dozens of law reviews. His latest book, On Earth and Science, was published by Yale University Press in 2017.


A popular lecturer, Larson has taught short courses at universities in China, Europe, and South America; and given addresses at over 80 American universities. He was a resident scholar at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Study Center; held the Fulbright Program's John Adams Chair in American Studies; participated in the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Writers and Artists Program; and served as an inaugural Fellow at the Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon. A panelist on the National Institutes of Health's Study Section for Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues of the Human Genome Project, Larson is interviewed frequently for broadcast, print, cable, and internet media, including The Daily Show, The Today Show, and multiple appearances on PSB, BBC, the History Channel, C-SPAN, CNN, Fox News, MNBC, and NPR.

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