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Honors Program

A prestigious mentorship program for America’s top students

The ISI Honors Program is a highly selective yearlong mentorship program kicked off by a weeklong summer conference. For twenty years the program has attracted and educated the nation’s most promising conservative undergraduates.

2015–16 Honors Program

2015–16 Theme: Traditions of Liberty

Date:             June 7-13, 2015
Location:      Seabeck Conference Center
                      Seabeck, Washington

Date:             August 2-8, 2015
Location:      Jefferson Hotel
                      Richmond, Virginia

Click to see the 2015 Honors Program Brochure

The application deadline for the 2015-2016 Honors Program has passed. The 2015–2016 ISI Honors Scholars will be announced in April 2015. All applicants will be notified by e-mail. E-mail for more information.

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.

The ISI Honors Program puts ambitious students ahead

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

Scholars 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.



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 Scholar, 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 Scholar, 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 Scholar, University of Texas