Western Political Philosophy

The Great Debate

In the decade before adoption of the US Constitution in 1789, an ongoing debate took place between Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine, two philosophers and political theorists of the Age of Enlightenment. Their thought will form the basis of our study for our annual conference at Ruttger’s this as we focus on how both a conservative philosophy and a liberal-progressive theory came into being. Those
differing views govern our political debate to this day and will give historians an analytical tool for better understanding the Election 2016.

This Ruttger’s Conference of 2017 will search for further insight into these issues. For over 10 years Merritt Marquardt has led discussions of issues in Western philosophy. He will suggest reading material in advance of the seminar.

Western Political Philosophy - Churchill: The Life of Leadership

As the country selects a new president, the paritcipants will take a look at the life of Winston Churchill as a model for leadership. Attendees are encouraged to read a recetnly published work, Churchills Trial: Wintson Churchill and the Salvation of Free Government by Larry P. Arnn.

Merritt Marquardt is a frequent contributor to the LAUL programs in the past decade. He is a retired attorney, having practiced for 35 years in the Office of General Counsel at the 3M Company, and has served as President of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Minnesota.

Political and Personal Dilemmas Resulting in the Emancipation Proclamation at Gettysburg

This year marks the 150th celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address. The class will address the Civil War, with special focus on some of the significant documents and resulting actions surfacing from the conflict, including Lincoln’s Inaugural speeches and excerpts from the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Merrit MarquardtMerritt Marquardt, past president and chair of the Osher Learning Institute, University of Minnesota, has facilitated this annual two-day event and others for more than five years.

Some required reading provided in advance. Registration required. Fee for lodging and food.


Great Recession

In 2012 the event was October 16-17 at Ruttger’s Resort. The presenter and discussion leader is Merritt Marquardt, past president and chairman, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, University of Minnesota.

The topic chosen last year was the Great Recession, the surrounding economic circumstances, the success or failure of related fiscal and monetary policies and review of the US and European Union economies.


In 2011 the topic was the Civil War and its impact on U.S. political philosophy and policies.


Mission: To provide quality and broad-based learning opportunities for the Lakes Area residents with emphasis on mature adults.