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Sandel Tells What, Why He Teaches

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When he was a student in college, Michael J. Sandel found political philosophy "dry and remote."

So when he became a professor government at Harvard, he decided to teach "a justice course that would leave me less bored than I was when I first read these books," Sandel says.

The result? Moral Reasoning 22, "Justice," a Core Course in which Sandel and 890 undergraduates meet in Sanders Theater to grapple with classic moral questions, often in a format that resembles more the Phil Donahue show than a typical Harvard lecture course.

Sandel told his story last night at Winthrop House as the first speaker in the series "What I Teach and Why," co-sponsored by the Cambridge Forum and The Crimson.

In response to a question from a mathematics graduate student who plans to become a teacher and wants to keep his students interested, Sandel said moral philosophy is easy to make interesting, because "it puts a premium on input and on arguments back and forth." But Sandel added, "I don't think you can do that with math."

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