ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

Through their giving, alumni and donors can transform America’s colleges and universities for the better. But alumni and donors who support institutions’ general operating funds too often underwrite the unacceptable status quo, rather than supporting and promoting rigorous academic programs and alternative viewpoints on campus.

That is why ACTA encourages providing targeted support to “Oases of Excellence”—specific programs set up at institutions across the country that promote the study of American history, Western civilization, political theory, economics, capitalism, leadership, and the Great Books. Some of these programs are housed within university departments, others may not have a formal affiliation with their institutions, but all share a commitment to educating students for informed citizenship in a free society. These programs are an effective way to change the culture of the academy from the inside, and many are able to thrive thanks to the generous support of thoughtful and intelligent donors.

In the past, ACTA has featured some of these programs in our quarterly newsletter, Inside Academe, and in publications such as our Intelligent Donor’s Guide to College Giving. Now, we have compiled a comprehensive list of over 60 “Oases of Excellence” throughout the country. For each program featured, we provide a brief description as well as a link to the program’s website. We encourage you to browse the list, spread the word, and consider supporting one of these programs.

American University

AU Center for Innovation

The AU Center for Innovation’s (AUCI) mission is to help American University students gain a full understanding of the world of business and markets by confronting, embracing, and creating opportunities—while achieving the highest levels of human flourishing and self-actualization. AUCI offers a minor in entrepreneurship and teaches students the value of business through courses on classical liberalism, capitalism, and applied economics. Led by AUCI Director and Dean’s Research Fellow Dr. Siri Terjesen, AUCI brings together enterprising students, educators, and experienced business leaders to develop entrepreneurial mindsets, identify opportunities, refine business models, and launch new ventures. For students starting ventures, AUCI’s incubator offers faculty coaching and mentors, shared workspace, programming and networking opportunities, student resources, skills training, and other services. Other activities include undergraduate research projects, pitch competitions, skills workshops, and visiting speakers. AUCI was recently designated by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business as one of the world’s top 20 entrepreneurship centers.Visit Page »

Political Theory Institute

Founded and directed by Professor Alan Levine, the mission of the Political Theory Institute is “to encourage the serious study of the great questions of political theory and to bring the insights of political theorists to bear on current issues and events.” The institute sponsors the Washington, DC Political Theory Colloquium, which brings engaging speakers to campus each semester. It also sponsors a series of student-run debates through its Janus Forum Student Society, hosts an annual conference, and offers a post-doctoral fellowship. Visit Page »

Amherst College

Colloquium on the American Founding

Founded with the purpose of “preserving at Amherst the teaching of the American Founders and Lincoln on ‘natural rights[,]’” the Colloquium on the American Founding is currently directed by Professor Hadley Arkes. It hosts a series of lectures throughout the year, sponsors courses, and hosts meetings in Washington D.C. in the spring and Amherst, Mass. in the fall of each year. Through its programs and events, the colloquium “tests the premises and teaching of the Founders and Lincoln against the serious skeptical challenges of an earlier day and our own." Supporters of Professor Arkes have also formed the James Wilson Institute on Natural Rights and the American Founding to further the teaching of natural rights to an audience beyond the College.” Visit Page »

Ashland University

Ashbrook Center 

The Ashbrook Center, founded in 1983, is an independent center based at Ashland University. The center serves students, middle and high school teachers, and the public, offering a Scholar Program for undergraduates, an online master’s program for teachers, and regularly hosting speakers. The Ashbrook Center also produces a wide range of publications, including the wonderful book 50 Core American Documents, a compendium of key documents in American history. Its current executive director is Roger L. Beckett. Visit Page »

Boise State University

American Founding Institute

The American Founding Institute, directed by Scott Yenor, “aims to teach the principles of limited government, constitutionalism, and classical liberalism” to the community of Boise State University. AFI hosts events and speakers throughout the year, including special lectures on Constitution Day and Presidents’ Day. It also educates middle and high school teachers about America’s founding principles. Visit Page »

Boston College

Clough Center for Constitutional Democracy

The Clough Center was started in 2008 through the vision and generosity of Gloria and Chuck Clough. It “aims to reinvigorate and reimagine the study of constitutional democracy in the twenty-first century.” The center hosts lectures and conferences; supports faculty, graduate, and undergraduate research; and offers a junior fellowship for outstanding undergraduates. It also runs global programs such as the Clough Global Strategic Capacity Building Program, which partners with “public and private institutions and civil society in the United States and around the world to strategically contribute to the agency, processes, structures, and ideas helpful to vibrant democracies and good government.” Visit Page »

Brown University

Political Theory Project

By using both humanistic and social scientific tools, Brown’s Political Theory Project seeks to “invigorate the study of institutions and ideas that make societies free.” It regularly sponsors speakers and offers post-doctoral fellowships as well as undergraduate courses. The student arm of the project is the Janus Forum, which sponsors a public lecture series, luncheon discussions, and public debates. The Political Theory Project was founded in 2003, and is currently directed by John Tomasi. Visit Page »

Christopher Newport University

Department of Leadership and American Studies

The Department of Leadership and American Studies is an academic department within Christopher Newport University. The department is dedicated to leadership, civic engagement, and democratic ideals. It offers a major and a minor in “American Studies” as well as a minor in “Leadership Studies.” Students in the program can avail themselves of supervised internships in business, government, and the non-profit world as well as study abroad options in the Netherlands, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. The current department chair is Dr. Benjamin Redekop. Visit Page »

City Colleges of Chicago

Wilbur Wright College—Great Books Curriculum

The Great Books Curriculum and Wilbur Wright College is a set of core courses in English, History, Humanities, Literature, Philosophy, and Theater. The curriculum was started in 1998 by Bruce Gans and is currently directed by Michael Peterson. Students who complete the program receive a certificate upon graduation. The program also sponsors symposia, lectures, and the publication of student essays in Symposium, a student journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Visit Page »

Claremont McKenna College

The Henry Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World

The Salvatori Center is dedicated to developing close relationships between students and scholars to “engage in the study of political philosophy and freedom as it relates to the American Founding.” The center sponsors conferences, lectures, and publications, as well as a junior fellows program for outstanding students. It was founded in 1969 through the generosity of Henry Salvatori and is currently directed by Professor Mark Blitz. Visit Page »

Clemson University

Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism

The mission of the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism is to “increase public awareness of the moral foundations of capitalism.” It sponsors an undergraduate junior fellows program and a visiting scholars program as well as speakers and conferences throughout the year. The institute was founded in 2005 by current executive director C. Bradley Thompson. Visit Page »

Colgate University

Center for Freedom and Western Civilization

Founded in 2004 and currently led by Professor Robert Kraynak, the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization “seeks to enliven the intellectual discourse among students and faculty … by promoting a set of ideals that have their origins in Western civilization but are universal in appeal.” It regularly sponsors lectures and runs a variety of programs. One of the most notable is Project Afghanistan, which helps build stronger ties with Afghanistan’s Kabul University in order to “develop new course materials and programs.” Visit Page »

Columbia University 

Center on Law and Liberty

Columbia Law School announced the creation of the Center on Law and Liberty at the end of 2014. The center was founded to “study freedom, threats to its existence, and legal protections designed to ensure its survival.” It is overseen by Philip Hamburger, the Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and an expert on constitutional law and religious liberty. The Center on Law and Liberty primarily hosts events focused on academic freedom. Visit Page »

Cornell University

Program on Freedom and Free Societies

The Program on Freedom and Free Societies aims “to enhance understanding and appreciation for constitutional liberty, by stimulating inquiry into the nature and meaning of freedom.” It regularly hosts events and speakers on campus to speak on issues such as the meaning of freedom, the relationship between politics and media, and public policy. The program is directed by Barry Strauss, a professor of History and Classics. Visit Page »

Dartmouth College

The Daniel Webster Project in Ancient and Modern Studies

The Daniel Webster Project was established in 2008 as a faculty initiative to “enhance the liberal arts experience at Dartmouth College by bringing ancient and modern perspectives to bear on issues of permanent moral and political importance.” The project sponsors regular lectures, conferences and curriculum proposals with the aim of bringing “faculty, students, and alumni/ae together around the core ideals of liberal education.” Though not yet adopted by Dartmouth College, the project’s curriculum proposals offer an option to students who want to pursue a more structured and focused course of study. The Webster Program is currently chaired by Professor James B. Murphy. Visit Page »

Duke University

Program in American Values and Institutions

Duke’s Program in American Values and Institutions is a multi-disciplinary program that studies “political, legal, economic, and cultural institutions” with special attention paid to the American Founding and the efforts of marginalized groups to “achieve full citizenship.” AVI sponsors undergraduate courses, brings speakers to campus, and hosts conferences. It also sponsors a post-doctoral program. The program is currently under the directorship of Professor Michael A. Gillespie. Visit Page »

Eastern University

Agora Institute for Civic Virtue and the Common Good

Through the generosity of its donors, the Institute for Civic Virtue and the Common Good “was established to nurture and sustain free and humane citizens and their service to the common good.” It seeks to examine “the spiritual, moral, and cultural preconditions of free people and institutions.” The institute will sponsor research, lectures, and colloquia and will award research grants to faculty. Visit Page »

Emory University

Program in Democracy and Citizenship

Directed by Harvey Klehr, Emory’s Program in Democracy and Citizenship is a curricular initiative “centered on the knowledge required for young Americans to become responsible, informed citizens.” The program sponsors courses in six departments, hires post-doctoral students to teach, and brings speakers for annual lectures on some aspect of the American founding. The program is also in the process of developing a voluntary core curriculum for freshmen and sophomores that will focus on great books in the Western tradition. Visit Page »

Florida State University

Gus A. Stavros Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Economic Education

Founded through the generosity of businessman Gus Stavros, the Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Economic Education at Florida State University seeks to “further free enterprise and economic education in the schools and the broader community.” It runs two major programs: The Excellence in Economic Education program, which focuses on “promoting excellence in the teaching of economics,” and the program for the Study of Free Enterprise and Political Economy, which focuses on research “designed to enhance the understanding of the institutions and policies supportive of free enterprise.” The Center’s activities include workshops, seminars, teacher training programs, and research sponsorship. It is currently directed by Dr. James Gwartney. Visit Page »

Furman University

The Tocqueville Program

Named for the great student of democracy, Alexis de Tocqueville, the Tocqueville Program sponsors courses and brings prominent scholars and public intellectuals to Furman’s campus “with the aim of encouraging serious and open engagement with the moral questions at the heart of political life.” The program was founded in 2006 thanks to the generosity and tireless efforts of Ginny and Sandy MacNeil. The Tocqueville Program is currently directed by Professors Benjamin Storey and Aristide Tessitore. Visit Page »

Georgetown University

Georgetown Institute for the Study of Markets and Ethics

The Georgetown Institute for the Study of Markets and Ethics (GISME) began in 2011, with support from the BB&T Foundation. It is under the leadership of executive director John Hasnas. GISME creates interdisciplinary programs to educate business school students and the broader community about ethical considerations that affect policy decisions, combining the perspectives of philosophy, political science, and law. GISME also develops courses and teaching tools to advance the study of professional ethics and the moral foundations of market societies. The Institute models intellectual diversity in its exploration of a wide range of philosophical and ideological positions. Visit Page »

Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy

Georgetown University’s Tocqueville Forum seeks “to advance the study of America’s founding principles and their roots in the Western philosophical and religious traditions.” It sponsors conferences, lectures, and colloquia on campus in order to “deepen classical liberal learning and elevate the civic understanding” of Georgetown’s students. The forum is housed in Georgetown’s Department of Government and is directed by Professor Thomas Kerch. Visit Page »

Hamilton College

Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization

Based in a historic mansion near Hamilton College and run independent of it, the Alexander Hamilton Institute is the brainchild of economist James Bradfield and historians Robert Paquette and Douglas Ambrose. The institute “promotes excellence in scholarship through the study of freedom, democracy and capitalism … within the larger tradition of Western culture.” Through its academic societies, annual colloquia, and lectures on constitutional jurisprudence, the AHI has had tremendous success in fulfilling its mission. AHI also runs a wonderful undergraduate fellowship program on campus, which includes an intellectually diverse group of exceptional students. These undergraduates “participate in the intellectual life of AHI” by organizing their own events, engaging leading public intellectuals at Leadership Luncheons designed specifically for Fellows, attending the annual AHI Colloquium, and presenting papers under the auspices of AHI. Visit Page »

Hampden-Sydney College

The Wilson Center for Leadership

The Wilson Center for Leadership “oversees leadership, public service, and civic education for Hampden-Sydney students, faculty, staff, and alumni; area high school teachers and students; and a variety of community and national educational organizations.” It offers several leadership programs, including a Public Service Certificate Program and special leadership training for freshmen. It also offers the school’s Army ROTC program. The center was established in 1996 and is currently directed by Lieutenant Colonel Rucker Snead. Visit Page »

Harvard University

Program on Constitutional Government

The Program on Constitutional Government at Harvard “hosts lectures, panels, and lunch seminars” in order to promote “the study of the U.S. Constitution and its principles.” The program also brings visiting professors to Harvard and supports postdoctoral fellowships. It was founded in 1985 by Professor Harvey Mansfield and William Kristol and is currently headed by Mansfield and Boston College’s R. Shep Melnick. Visit Page »

Indiana University

Tocqueville Program

The Tocqueville Program at Indiana University was created in 2009 with generous support from the Jack Miller Center. It engages “historians, political scientists, sociologists, and anthropologists” in reflecting on “Tocquevillian themes and tropes that deal with important issues such as freedom, equality, civil society, religion, citizenship” and more. The Tocqueville Program sponsors lectures, prize competitions, and roundtables and is planning to offer an undergraduate course and a postdoctoral fellowship in the future. The program is directed by Professor Aurelian Craiutu. Visit Page »

Louisiana State University

The Eric Voegelin Institute 

The Eric Voegelin Institute is a humanities and social sciences research institute housed in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at LSU. It is dedicated to the study of great books, Western Civilization, and of course, the contributions of Eric Voegelin to political thought. The institute also provides research and support to the Department of Political Science and has published a 34 volume Collected Works of Eric Voegelin. Programs for undergraduates include a joint lecture and reading series that encourages students to explore great works and furthers their understanding through lectures from distinguished academics. Professor James Stoner is the Director of the institute. Visit Page »

Marshall University

John Deaver Drinko Academy

The John Deaver Drinko Academy is “devoted to enhancing public understanding of American institutions and responsibilities of citizens to their society.” The academy traces its roots back to 1985, when John and Elizabeth Drinko established a chair in the university’s College of Liberal Arts. The program was expanded, enlarged, and renamed in 1994. It currently sponsors lectures, fellowships, visiting professorships, and seminars. The academy’s executive director in Dr. Alan B. Gould. Visit Page »

Michigan State University

LeFrak Forum and Symposium on Science, Reason, and Modern Democracy

Michigan State’s LeFrak Forum and Symposium were founded in 1989 in the school’s Department of Political Science. They serve as “centers for research and debate on the theory and practice of modern democracy.” Every year, the Symposium and Forum choose one or two issues facing modern democracies and devote their public program to tackling them. As of today, the Forum and Symposium have sponsored “almost two hundred lectures at Michigan State University and more than a dozen international conferences.” Visit Page »

Monterey Peninsula College

Great Books Program

Monterey Peninsula College’s Great Books Program is one of only two great books programs at California’s community colleges. The program rejects “the notion that Great Books are reserved for private schools and Ivy League universities,” and teaches students key foundational texts in Western civilization. Students who complete the program are awarded a “Great Books Scholar” certificate. The program can also be completed online. Visit Page »

New York University

Alexander Hamilton Center for Political Economy

Currently directed by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, the Alexander Hamilton Center at NYU provides “an open non-partisan forum to debate solutions for public policy problems.” The center seeks to foster the competition of ideas on the basis of “rigorous logic and evidence rather than on briefs grounded in ‘political correctness,’ personal beliefs or ideologically motivated opinions.” Its activities include offering lectures, courses, and conferences as well as sponsoring research. Visit Page »

Ohio University

The George Washington Forum on American Ideas, Politics, and Institutions

Directed by historian Robert G. Ingram, the George Washington Forum “teaches America’s foundational principles in their Western intellectual, political, and institutional contexts.” The forum directs and encourages efforts to teach undergraduates American history; encourages scholarship on American and Western history through conferences, lectures and publication; and provides scholarship funding to select undergraduates. Through its programs, the forum “helps students become enlightened citizens in a liberal democracy.” Visit Page »

Princeton University

James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions

The James Madison Program, currently directed by Robert George, was founded in 2000 to explore “enduring questions of American constitutional law and Western political thought.” The program offers annual visiting research fellowships as well as postdoctoral appointments. It runs an Undergraduate Fellows Forum, which “provides a unique opportunity for Princeton undergraduates to pursue, outside the classroom, academic interests related to politics, history, law, and political thought.” It also sponsors courses and regularly hosts conferences, colloquia, and public lectures. Visit Page »

Randolph-Macon College

The BB&T Moral Foundations of Capitalism Program

The BB&T Moral Foundations of Capitalism Program program at Randolph-Macon College was founded thanks to a generous donation from the BB&T Charitable Foundation. Dr. David Brat, chair of the college’s Economics Department, is the “main point of leadership on matters relating to the grants[,]” and Ken Malloy serves as the program’s director. This undergraduate initiative focuses on “the nexus of capitalism, ethics, leadership, and public policy.” By developing “a multifaceted set of activities that draw from across R-MC’s various academic departments” the program will help students “contribute to the discourse of the issues of capitalism … as both an ethical system and a programmatic mechanism for organizing an economy[.]” Visit Page »

Rochester Institute of Technology

Center for Statesmanship, Law, and Liberty

The mission of the Center for Statesmanship, Law, and Liberty is to “enhance the understanding of statesmanship as the apex of political greatness and explore its role in a free, democratic republic under the rule of law.” The center seeks to support non-partisan teaching, research, and learning about “statesmanship, liberty and constitutionalism.” The center’s first annual Statesmanship Colloquium took place in April of 2014 and brought together a diverse group of scholars to discuss the statesmanship of Abraham Lincoln. Visit Page »

Rockford University

The Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship

Launched in 2007, the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship seeks to “achieve excellence in teaching and research in Business Ethics, Entrepreneurship, Political Economy and related fields.” Directed by professor of philosophy Stephen Hicks, CEE unites faculty from disparate fields in business and the liberal arts to provide an interdisciplinary education. The center offers a variety of courses and brings prominent speakers from both the academy and the business world in order to develop students’ understanding of the academy and the market. Visit Page »

Santa Barbara City College

Great Books Curriculum

The Great Books Program is housed in the Department of English and offers courses in English, English Skills, Philosophy, Political Science, and Theatre Arts. It exposes students to the “classical works” that “shape our civilization, and, in turn, enhance the realm of the human.” Students who successfully complete four Great Books courses are eligible to receive a Certificate of Achievement. Visit Page »

Skidmore College

The Franklin Forum

The Franklin Forum at Skidmore College is a student -run organization, appropriately named for Pennsylvania’s famous Founding Father and polymath, who himself started the nation’s first learned association, the American Philosophical Society. The Franklin Forum is a sister organization of another Oasis of Excellence: The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization. It is a place where curious and broad-minded students engage in intellectual fellowship outside the classroom, under the guidance of faculty advisor Professor Flagg Taylor. Students adopt a humanistic approach to their explorations of politics, literature, and philosophy, and, like the Alexander Hamilton Institute, the Forum encourages an atmosphere of intellectual risk-taking. Forum members themselves create a reading syllabus to guide their discussions. The group meets regularly and invites visiting scholars to enrich Forum meetings. Visit Page »

St. Olaf College

The Institute for Freedom & Community

St. Olaf’s Institute for Freedom & Community began in 2015. Professor Daniel Hofrenning directs the program which examines important public issues through vigorous, yet civil discourse. Through debate, discussion, and openness to competing viewpoints, students engage the major controversies of our times. The Institute supports St. Olaf’s Public Affairs Conversation: a two-course interdisciplinary study sequence for juniors and seniors. It consists of Freedom and Community in the American Experience and Freedom and Community in Ongoing Social and Political Debates. The coursework is supplemented by an internship in business, government, or public service. Outside speakers also energize dialogue on campus throughout the school year. Visit Page »

St. Vincent College

Center for Political and Economic Thought

The Center for Political and Economic Thought sponsors research and educational programs in the fields of politics, economics, and “moral-cultural affairs.” It seeks to “advance scholarship on philosophical and policy concerns related to freedom and Western civilization with particular regard to the American experience.” Every year, the center hosts the Civitas Forum on Principles and Policies for Public Life. Founded in 1991, the center is currently headed by Professor Gary Quinlivan. Visit Page »

Texas Tech University

The Institute for the Study of Western Civilization

Texas Tech’s Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, which is affiliated with the school’s Honors College, sponsors research, teaching, and extracurricular speakers to address “Western Civilization as a distinct phenomenon.” It helped develop a concentration in Western Civilization within the Honors Arts and Letters degree program in which students study U.S. and Western history, fine arts, philosophy, logic, science, and the Great Books of the Western world. It is directed by Professor Steve Balch, a founding members of ACTA’s board and founding president of the National Association of Scholars. Visit Page »

Trinity College

Churchill Institute for the Study and Extension of Western Civilization

The Churchill Institute serves the students of Trinity College by encouraging and promoting the serious study of Western Civilization and its influence on history, literature, and philosophy. The Institute enriches the communities of Hartford, CT and New York City by sponsoring the Churchill Speakers Series, which is open to the public. Students can also participate in the Smith Reading Group Clusters and gain work experience through the CI internship program. The Institute is led by Dr. Gregory B. Smith, professor of political science and philosophy. Visit Page »

University of Alaska–Fairbanks

Students Who Enjoy Economic Thinking

Students Who Enjoy Economic Thinking (SWEET) is a student organization at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. It was founded in 2006 by the faculty advisor, Professor Sherri Wall. SWEET offers academic scholarships to students to read seminal papers, books, and articles, blog their responses, and participate in a weekly dinner/discussion based on the readings. SWEET also hosts a lecture series that is open to students, staff, faculty, and the local community. Thousands of people have attended SWEET lectures, which have included Alaska’s Governor and Congressional delegation, professors from universities around the United States, and industry leaders. SWEET members are academically ambitious students who study a wide range of subjects, including economics, engineering, computer science, biology and others. Visit Page »

University of Arizona

American Culture & Ideas Initiative

The Center for American Culture and Ideas was founded to provide students “with an ennobling vision, a sense of a larger purpose and a higher calling through and understanding of the foundations of American culture and institutions.” By emphasizing the various influences on the history of Western civilization, the center “contributes to the intellectual breadth of the University and balances the centripetal tendency of some new initiatives with a renewed emphasis on the Western tradition.” Funded and directed by composer Daniel Asia, the center sponsors courses, conferences, and cultural performances. Visit Page »

The Center for the Philosophy of Freedom

The Center for the Philosophy of Freedom at the University of Arizona is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of the ideals of freedom and responsibility. The center focuses on graduate and undergraduate education, research, and community outreach. The Center's distinctively empirical approach to testing and evaluating political ideals has made the University of Arizona a leading Philosophy Department in the field of political philosophy. Professor David Schmidtz is founding director and editor of Social Philosophy & Policy, an interdisciplinary academic journal published twice a year by Cambridge University Press. Each issue addresses a special topic, including, in the past few years, issues on Corruption, Progress, Profit, Growth, and Ideals in Theory and Practice. Social Philosophy and Policy is a leading journal in its field. In addition to research, the center offers a philosophy course on Ethics, Economy, and Entrepreneurship that is available to high school students for college credit. Visit Page »

University of California–Los Angeles

Center for Liberal Arts and Free Institutions

Created in 2009 as part of the UCLA Division of Humanities, the Center for Liberal Arts and Free Institutions was founded on the principle that “an educated citizen in a democracy should have a sound understanding of the history of free institutions and their underlying principles.” CLAFI sponsors courses for undergraduates and invites the public to lectures, performances, and study groups. The center is directed by professor of law emeritus Daniel Lowenstein. Visit Page »

University of Colorado–Boulder

Center for Western Civilization

The Center for Western Civilization “seeks to encourage critical reflection on the distinctive traditions, languages and issues that characterize the cultures of Western civilization.” It offers a certificate program for students who focus a portion of their study on “the foundations of Western thought and society.” The center also sponsors events and lectures as well as student and faculty research. It is directed by Robert Pasnau. Visit Page »

University of Colorado–Colorado Springs

Center for the Study of Government and the Individual

The Center for the Study of Government and the Individual (CSGI) is dedicated to studying the relationship between citizens and government in a free society. Through public forums, seminars, and lectures, the Center addresses the constitutional, economic, and social foundations of freedom. The Center also supports research designed to stimulate discussion and debate on the function of government in American life. The Center is run by Professor Joshua Dunn. Visit Page »

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

The Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government Foundation

The Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government Foundation at the University of Illinois “supports scholarly research and teaching about the authors and ideas of free markets, entrepreneurship, individual rights, individual responsibility, limited government and peace.” Its activities include supporting annual symposia, Lincoln-Douglas style debates, visiting lecturers, and study abroad programs. The Academy is an independent non-profit, and is not a unit of the University of Illinois. Dr. Matthew Brown currently serves as its president. Visit Page »

University of Louisville

McConnell Center

The McConnell Center was founded to “recruit and nurture Kentucky’s next generation of great leaders.” It runs an undergraduate scholars program in which students participate in liberal arts seminars, hosts a public lecture series, and conducts workshops and conferences as part of its Civic Education Program. The center was founded in 1991 by Senator Mitch McConnell and is currently directed by Professor Gary Gregg. Visit Page »

University of Mississippi

The Declaration of Independence Center for the Study of American Freedom

The Declaration of Independence Center is “committed to promoting the study of the historical and philosophical aspects of American freedom.” Founded in 2009, the center intends to advance its mission by sponsoring courses in the area of “freedom studies” and by hosting lectures, conferences, and other events. It also plans to sponsor “freedom societies” and offer awards for “achievements in the field of freedom studies.” Visit Page »

University of Missouri

Kinder Forum on Constitutional Democracy

The Kinder Forum on Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri is “a new initiative to promote excellence in teaching and scholarship about the American constitutional and democratic traditions.” At the center of its activities is a university minor in American Constitutional Democracy, which “rewards students for pursuing an integrated course of study on the U.S. Constitution’s historical and philosophical antecedents and the subsequent history and development of American constitutional government.” The Kinder Forum also support faculty and graduate students who “are exploring foundational questions related to the theory and practice of constitutional democracy.” Professor of Political Science Justin Dyer serves as director of the Kinder Forum and Professor of Journalism and History Jeff Pasley serves as associate director. Visit Page »

University of Nevada–Las Vegas

Great Works Academic Certificate

The Great Works Academic Certificate program “provides students with an opportunity to take part in a conversation with some of the best thinkers of all time.” Students who wish to earn a certificate study great works in philosophy, politics, literature, science, and the fine arts. The program also brings prominent guest lecturers to campus to give public talks. GWAC was founded in 2004 by Professor David Frott, who still runs the program. Visit Page »

University of Richmond

The John Marshall International Center for the Study of Statesmanship

The John Marshall Center “approaches the study and practice of statesmanship through a program that combines scholarly and practical attention to constitutionalism, political economy, politics and ethical reasoning.” Its approach is rooted in the great books tradition, and it implements its approach through seminars, conferences, and a public lecture series. It also sponsors a post-doctoral fellowship in which fellows “pursue their research within the context of the history of political, legal, economic and constitutional ideas.” The center is currently directed by Gary L. McDowell and Daniel J. Palazzolo. Visit Page »

University of South Dakota

W.O. Farber Center for Civic Leadership

The Farber Center for Civic Leadership was founded in 1997 by the South Dakota Board of Regents. It focuses on “public leadership skills,” offering courses in political science, business administration, psychology, and sociology—tools that are “critical to helping individuals and communities identify, address, and resolve public problems.” It offers a minor in “Civic Leadership” and an emphasis in “Leadership Studies” within the MPA program. In addition, the center hosts a variety of events, including an annual “Farber Forum,” which has brought speakers such as General Colin Powell and Tom Brokaw to campus. The center is directed by William D. Richardson. Visit Page »

University of Texas at Austin

The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas

The Thomas Jefferson Center aims to “realize Jefferson’s vision of educating citizens and leaders to understand the meaning of liberty and to exercise it wisely.” It runs a variety of programs, including a Certificate Program in Core Texts and Ideas, an ongoing lecture series, a book club for students, and an executive seminar series for “local professionals and community leaders.” The center is led by Lorraine and Tom Pangle. Visit Page »

University of Virginia

Program on Constitutionalism and Democracy

UVA’s undergraduate Program on Constitutionalism and Democracy seeks to promote scholarship and teaching “that is informed by political theory and by the political science of the American Founding.” The program sponsors a series of lectures and seminars each year given by scholars from outside UVA. These scholars conduct introductory undergraduate courses on the American political tradition and also meet graduate students and faculty to discuss research. The PCD also supports three resident fellows who are pursuing or have recently completed PhDs and offers small undergraduate seminars on American political thought. The program is directed by the estimable scholar of American politics, James Ceaser. Visit Page »

University of Wisconsin–Madison

Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy

Founded in the fall of 2006 by a core group of faculty, the Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy’s main objective is “to probe the nature and prospects of liberal democracy and its core principles, practices, and institutions.” The center sponsors speakers, colloquia, and a variety of student opportunities, such as the Bradley Freedom Prize Essay Contest. The center is directed by Professor Donald A. Downs. Visit Page »

Utah State University

Center for the Study of American Constitutionalism

The mission of the Center for the Study of American Constitutionalism is “to explore the meaning of liberty in the American constitutional system, with specific emphasis on the Founders’ commitment to limited and responsible government.” It grew out of the university’s “Law and Constitutional Studies” major and currently has three key areas of activity. It seeks to 1) “explore the variety of meanings that have been given to ‘liberty’” 2) explore “the specific meaning of liberty found in the Unites States Constitution” and 3) “keep the community abreast of current Supreme Court decisions and their impact on questions of liberty.” The center is directed by Anthony A. Peacock. Visit Page »

Villanova University

Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good

Named in honor of Villanova alumnus Representative Matthew J. Ryan, the center “promotes inquiry into the principles and processes of free government[.]” Among the center’s initiatives are a post-doctoral program, sponsorship of public lectures and major conferences, and undergraduate and graduate fellowships. It also runs the “Freedom and Virtue Learning Community,” in which student participants “study the relationship between these two fundamental human goods” through “intensive, active reading” and discussions. The center was founded in 2006 and is currently directed by Colleen A. Sheehan. Visit Page »

Washington College

Cincinnatus Leadership Scholars Program

The Cincinnatus Leadership Scholars program is an initiative of Washington College’s Institute for Religion, Politics & Culture. Named in honor of George Washington, who has been called the American “Cincinnatus,” the program seeks to “highlight the importance of good character for civic life.” Undergraduates in the program “study the life and work of great leaders and develop service projects in their communities that instantiate the values of exemplary leaders.” Visit Page »

Wellesley College

The Freedom Project

Dedicated to the exploration of freedom in all its forms, the Freedom Project at Wellesley College promotes tolerance, pluralism, intellectual diversity, and freedom of expression on campus. It highlights the centrality of liberty in conversations about democracy, inequality, and social justice. The Project sponsors a wide variety of campus programming, including a speaker series, bringing together a wide range of scholarly experts on often provocative topics; courses for credit, as well as grants for professors interested in creating team-taught classes modelling civil discourse; Adam Smith Fellowships for particularly engaged students, who participate in a Wintersession seminar and conduct and present original research; and exciting internship opportunities. The Freedom Project is directed by Dr. Thomas Cushman.  Visit Page »

Yale University

William F. Buckley, Jr. Program

Founded in 2012 by a group of undergraduates under the guidance of long-time Professor Donald Kagan, the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program seeks to promote greater intellectual diversity on Yale’s campus. It coordinates a speaker series, hosts daylong workshops and seminars, and runs a funded summer internship program for undergraduates. In the past, the Buckley Program has also sponsored an essay contest and partnered with Yale to offer a for-credit class on the life of William F. Buckley, Jr. The program is run by a group of student leaders and is advised by a distinguished faculty board. Visit Page »

Directed Studies Program

Yale University’s Directed Studies Program is a selective program for undergraduates that provides them with an interdisciplinary education in the classics of Western civilization. The students enrolled in the program “take three yearlong courses—literature, philosophy, and historical and political thought—in which they read the central texts of the Western tradition.” The classes are supplemented by a series of colloquia in which “[d]istinguished members of the faculty are invited to speak on major issues arising from the work in the program” as well as a variety of other topics related to the Western tradition. The program is currently chaired by Bryan Garsten. Visit Page »