Here's an extraordinary opportunity.

The ISI Honors Program is a highly selective yearlong mentoring fellowship for fifty of the nation's most promising undergraduates.

The ISI Honors Program puts ambitious students ahead.

Honors Fellows are assigned an Academic Mentor who guides them through reading projects and advises on intellectual questions and career options. Fellows explore the West's intellectual tradition at a weeklong, all-expenses paid summer conference, at weekend colloquia, and through online correspondence.

Fellows receive an array of ISI publications, including American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia and Modern Age, and are given special priority for employment, fellowship, and internship opportunities.


2014-2015 Honors Program: Traditions of Liberty

America, as the song extols it, is pre-eminently a “sweet land of liberty.” From the religious liberty sought by our Pilgrim forefathers to the central right to liberty proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence to the political liberty secured by our federal Constitution and on to the current political issues that perplex us so, American political thinking dwells constantly on the theme of liberty. So successful have Americans been at securing liberty as their birthright that they seldom reflect on just how great and hard-won their achievement has been. They tend, instead, to presume that liberty is “easy”—the natural condition of mankind, a simple matter of leaving people alone.

But the liberty we prize is not so simple. In fact, American liberty is the profoundly complex fruit of multiple traditions that constitute its foundation. Religious liberty, for example, springs from the tradition of libertas ecclesiae—a corporate claim which publicly recognizes a sphere of social life beyond the scope of political authority. Similarly, our conceptions of economic liberty rely on common law notions of property rights, on the one hand, and common law understandings of corporate personality, on the other. And in a republican regime, it is not so much “parchment barriers” that protect our liberty as the art of dividing power against itself within a democratic government.

How is it that these traditions came together in American experience? Are they always complementary or are they sometimes in tension? Are there dimensions of liberty that are, in fact, unacknowledged in the American settlement? What happens when the moral sources of our liberty are eroded or obscured? This summer, join ISI as we explore some of the most important questions in contemporary political theory and practice.

Traditions of Liberty The 2014 - 2015 ISI Honors Program

June 8-14, 2014
Seabeck Conference Center
Seabeck, Washington


August 3-9, 2014
Jefferson Hotel
Richmond, Virginia


Apply for the 2014-2015 program

See the program brochure

  • "The Honors Program has literally been one of the most important intellectual events of my life. I came away from the summer conference with a good sense of the direction I want to go academically and personally."
    —ISI Honors Fellow, Yale University
  • "I take heart in knowing that there is a broad community that shares questions which concern me and am, vitally, compelled to continue my own studies with greater tenacity and thoughtfulness."
    —ISI Honors Fellow, Louisiana State University
  • "The Honors Program has helped me to better understand the complexity of the debates that constitute our contemporary political discourse, as well as to see new ways of approaching the problems that we each face separately as individuals and that we face together as citizens of our nation."
    —ISI Honors Fellow, University of Texas