Jenna Storey discusses Modern Restlessness and Quest for Virtue on the Keeping It Civil Podcast

Jenna Storey | Modern Restlessness and Quest for Virtue

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Our host, Henry, sits down with Jenna Storey this week. Storey is a senior fellow in the Social, Cultural and Constitutional Studies Department at the American Enterprise Institute. In this episode, we’ll discuss restlessness among American college students, something Storey, along with her husband, Benjamin Storey, wrote about in their book, “Why We Are Restless: On the Modern Quest for Contentment.” In addition to this, Jenna and Henry speak about how this relates to the perceived crisis of modern liberal arts education.  

According to Storey, it’s important to have a solid idea of what she is talking about when referencing “restlessness.” After highlighting previous research on the topic, Storey says that it comes down to how Americans are prioritizing. This could be something monetary or something like their own happiness.   

“Americans are busy because they are unwilling to prioritize, they’re unwilling to say that one thing is worth more than another,“ Storey explains. “And therefore, that plus other sociological factors, makes them run around after a lot of the intermediate goods, like money for example, things that can be exchanged in when we finally think about it and decide what’s really worth it.” 

Another topic presented this week is the idea that universities and higher education as a whole is not doing enough to encourage students to think more broadly about the trajectory of their lives. According to Storey, it all starts with how we conceptualize something like the liberal arts. 

Near the end of the podcast, Storey recommends a book that she feels is vital for many of her students to read. Her recommendation for any listeners would be “Aristotle’s Politics.”  

“I think what is so refreshing, illuminating, relieving, about the conception of political life that Aristotle introduces there is that it always involves two groups that just don’t agree. Politics depends on two things: One, we have to do something in common, we have to do something, right? And two, we have divergent opinions about what it is and how to do it. And I think that it’s so interesting for students.” 

To hear more about how restlessness is impacting the American college system, and liberal arts more specifically, be sure to listen to this week’s episode of Keeping It Civil.

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