About The Bennion Teachers' Workshop

What is the Bennion Teachers Workshop?

The Bennion Teachers' Workshop for the Perpetuation of Democratic Principles is a program made possible by an endowment to Utah State University's Mountain West Center for Regional Studies. The endowment was created by Ione Bennion, a teacher and community activist, to "provide an atmosphere and the educational resources to explore the concepts upon which democracy is built, the conditions under which it flourishes, and the dangers to its existence." Taught by Utah State University faculty and guest speakers who represent the latest scholarship in the topics presented, the workshops focus on giving inservice and pre-inservice teachers practical tools that they can use in the classroom.

highlighting democracy in dictionary

Premise of the 2023 Bennion Teachers' Workshop

In "Federalist No. 10" James Madison warns that a direct democracy, like that of ancient Athens, tends to disintegrate into warring factions, and he suggests that a republic, with representative leaders, might supply "the cure for which we are seeking."  Was Madison thinking of the Roman republic? Did Madison's assumptions about the Athenian democracy and the Roman republic have a valid historical basis?  To what extent did these two classical models influence the institutions of our American democratic republic? This workshop will look closely at the history, structure, and functioning of the Athenian democracy and the Roman republic to begin to answer these questions.

Presentations by prominent scholars and interactive activities will allow participants to gain understandings of:

  • Increase their own literacy about the diversity of religious groups present in the state of Utah and more broadly in the United
  • the founding principles of ancient Athenian democracy,
  • how the Romans developed their republican form of government,
  • how our own democratic republic is rooted in and to some extent shaped by the Athenian democracy and the Roman republic,
  • how the successes and failures of previous types of self-government can help us think productively about improvement to our political and social institutions for the future.