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Educating for Liberty

Inspiring college students to discover, embrace, and advance the principles and virtues that make America free and prosperous.

“Before there was a Heritage Foundation or a Federalist Society, or a Cato or Claremont or Discovery or Hudson or Manhattan Institute, there was the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.”
—New York Times

ISI was there when the American conservative movement started sixty years ago. Ever since then, we have been teaching students like you the core ideas behind the free market, the American Founding, and Western civilization, ideas that are rarely taught in your classroom.

In the early 1950s journalist Frank Chodorov wrote two articles calling 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.”

That call was realized in 1953. Chodorov founded ISI to counter the progressive ideology taking over American colleges. He selected a young journalist to lead our organization: William F. Buckley Jr.

Through six decades we have developed 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.”

We connect you with professors and leaders in business, politics, and journalism; introduce you to like-minded students from around the country; offer leadership opportunities in on-campus ISI Societies and student-run publications; and provide unique internship and fellowship opportunities.

ISI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, tax-exempt educational organization. We rely on the financial support of the general public—individuals, foundations, and corporations—and receive no funding or any other aid from any level of government.


We work to instill an understanding of and appreciation for America’s founding principles. These six principles of a free society represent ISI’s core beliefs:


Limited Government

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 its proper role, it accumulates power and becomes a threat to personal liberty.


Individual 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

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.


The Rule of Law

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.


Free-Market Economy

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.


Traditional Values

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.