Class of 2020 selection: "Our Declaration"
President Christopher L. Eisgruber's Princeton Pre-read selection for the Class of 2020 is Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality by Danielle Allen, a member of Princeton's Class of 1993. She is now a professor of government at Harvard University and director of Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics. President Eisgruber comments, "Danielle Allen’s Our Declaration is a profound and engaging book that speaks to urgent questions about the relationship of liberty to equality, the significance of historical legacies, and the meaning of political documents." He adds, "I look forward to discussing the book with Princeton's Class of 2020 and to welcoming Danielle back to campus."
Copies of Our Declaration will be distributed in June to members of the Class of 2020. For more information, please contact Brandon Gaines in the Office of Finance and Treasury at 609-258-2527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about "Our Declaration"
Thoughts from Danielle Allen:
"I would encourage everyone to take the time to read the Declaration of Independence itself out loud once with someone else. If you do that, before you start reading, the book itself will be more fun."
"I hope people come to see that the Declaration deserves to be taken seriously as a profound and original philosophical argument about the nature of democratic equality. Though it did have what we might call propagandistic purposes, it can’t be reduced to propaganda, and although it was at the center of turbulent historical events, it’s about a lot more than a timeline of important actions. It’s a true philosophic contribution."
Listen to Danielle Allen discuss Our Declaration on a Ben Franklin's World podcast.
The Princeton Pre-read tradition
The Pre-read program, initiated by President Eisgruber in 2013, introduces incoming freshmen to Princeton’s intellectual life.
Members of the incoming class join together to read and discuss a book that President Eisgruber selects and sends to freshmen prior to their arrival on campus. Freshmen then participate in Pre-read discussions with student leaders during Orientation Week and with President Eisgruber in the residential colleges and elsewhere on campus over the course of the academic year. Other University community members also are encouraged to read and discuss the Pre-read selection.
The Pre-read builds upon another Princeton tradition, the Pre-rade, in which freshmen exit the Opening Exercises ceremony and march onto campus through FitzRandolph Gate to be welcomed by upperclassmen and alumni. Together, the Pre-rade and the Pre-read symbolize the rich blend of residential and scholarly life and community spirit that characterizes the Princeton experience.