Educating for Liberty: Inspiring college students to discover, embrace, and advance the principles and virtues that make America free and prosperous.
Since 1953 the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) has been teaching future leaders the timeless principles that make America free and prosperous—the core ideas behind the free market, the American Founding, and Western civilization that are rarely taught in the classroom.
Today ISI has more than 10,000 student members on some 1,500 campuses across the country. The Institute reaches these and thousands of other young people through an integrated program of campus speakers, conferences, seminars, publications, student groups, and fellowships and scholarships, along with a rich repository of online resources.
ISI was the brainchild of journalist Frank Chodorov. In two articles written in the early 1950s, he called for a “fifty-year project” to revive the American ideals of individual freedom and personal responsibility “by implanting the idea in the minds of the coming generations.” In 1953 Chodorov founded ISI expressly for that purpose. He chose a young Yale University graduate, William F. Buckley Jr., as ISI’s first president.
Through six decades ISI has a proven record of developing principled leaders in all corners of American society, including higher education, public service, the media, and business and finance. President Ronald Reagan said, “By the time the Reagan Revolution marched into Washington, I had the troops I needed—thanks in no small measure to the work with American youth ISI had been doing since 1953.”
ISI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, tax-exempt educational organization. The Institute relies on the financial support of the general public—individuals, foundations, and corporations—and receives no funding or any other aid from any level of the government.
Freedom can perish. Chodorov and Buckley founded ISI with this realization in mind. Today, the threats to liberty are growing. Worse, America’s colleges and universities are failing in their responsibility to transmit America’s founding principles to the next generation of leaders. Responding to these dangers, in the fall of 2011 ISI launched the Leadership for America’s Future campaign, the most focused effort in the Institute’s long history. With this three- year campaign, ISI is not only expanding its reach and impact on campuses across the country; it is also achieving critical mass at 150 carefully selected target colleges through a multifaceted, community-building approach.
The Intercollegiate Studies Institute works to instill an understanding and appreciation for America’s founding principles. These six values represent the core beliefs inherent in ISI’s mission and its activity.
The rightful functions of government are to guarantee individual liberty, private property, internal order, the provision of national defense, and the administration of justice. When the state exceeds this proper role, it accumulates power and becomes a threat to personal liberty.
Individuals possess rights to life, liberty, property, and freedom from the restrictions of arbitrary force. They exercise these rights through the use of their natural free will.
Personal responsibility is central to the idea of a free society and to the concept of self-government. Because each individual is morally responsible for his acts, citizens in a free society have an obligation to educate themselves to further the common good through the political process: this is the proper and necessary function of self-government.
Laws, not men, rule a free society. The Constitution of the United States, with its division of powers, is the best arrangement yet devised for empowering government while preventing the concentration of power.
Allocating resources by the free play of supply and demand is the single economic system compatible with the requirements of a free society, and also the most productive and efficient supplier of human needs.
The values, customs, conventions, and norms of the Judeo-Christian tradition inform and guide a free society. Without such ordinances, society induces its decay by embracing a relativism that rejects an objective moral order.
To guarantee the continuity of ISI's presence in the American academy, the Institute established the F. M. Kirby Campus as its national headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware. The headquarters building, constructed in 1937 as a residence for the William Worth family, is situated on 23 acres alongside Hoopes Reservoir. It was renovated into an efficient contemporary office facility for ISI's employees in 1995.
The formal first floor areas of the Colonial Revival building have been retained as ISI's Regnery Library, the President's office, and multi-purpose room. The second and third floors have been converted into office space along with the carriage house.
ISI's acquisition of its national headquarters building was made possible in significant part by a generous grant from the F. M. Kirby Foundation, Inc. To honor the single largest gift at that time in the Institute's history, ISI's new facility is known as F. M. Kirby Campus, and the main building is F. M. Kirby Hall.
The Institute received a 1997 Historic Preservation Award for its renovation of the former Worth Estate into the ISI headquarters.