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Promoting Intellectual Discovery and Human Flourishing

Rooted in the classical liberal tradition, IHS is a non-profit organization that supports the achievement of a free society by connecting and supporting graduate students, scholars, and intellectuals who are driving human progress in critical conversations shaping the 21st century.

Promoting Intellectual Discovery and Human Flourishing

Rooted in the classical liberal tradition, IHS is a non-profit organization that supports the achievement of a free society by connecting and supporting graduate students, scholars, and intellectuals who are driving human progress in critical conversations shaping the 21st century.

Advancing the Ideas of the Good Society

We believe that ideas within the classical liberal tradition serve as the foundation for the good society — an intellectually open, tolerant, and pluralistic society — in which individuals and communities thrive in peace, prosperity, and mutual respect.  For those ideas to take root, it is essential they are taught, explored, challenged, and developed in higher education.

Growing and Connecting a Community of Scholars Through:


Diverse Scholarly Discourse

We connect a diverse community of scholars and public intellectuals across the ideological spectrum who share our passion for the liberal intellectual tradition within the academy and in the broader world.


Funding for Your Future

We support scholars with a variety of flexible research grants, fellowships, and logistical support opportunities. Our funding resources help scholars to publish research and thrive throughout their academic careers.


Exploring and Challenging Ideas

We offer an integrated suite of programs and events, working with scholars who are driving progress in the academic forum and public conversations most relevant to liberal democratic societies.


Fostering Collaboration

We help facilitate peer-to-peer connections, creating a broad academic network and opportunities for scholarly collaboration through convenings and events.

Explore Principles and Initiatives

Classical liberal thought includes diverse viewpoints and the exchange of ideas about the nature of society, the individual, and the relationship between the two. We focus on enduring principles that underlie free and open societies and contemporary challenges where fresh thinking and civil discourse is needed most urgently. Become familiar with these principles and key initiatives.

About the Institute for Humane Studies

The Institute for Humane Studies was founded in 1961 by Dr. F. A. “Baldy” Harper, a former economics professor at Cornell University. Part of a generation that lived through two devastating world wars and saw the rise of totalitarian dictatorships, Harper set up an institute devoted to research and education with the conviction that a greater understanding of human affairs and freedom would foster peace, prosperity, and social harmony.

Based for many years in Menlo Park, California, IHS moved to Fairfax, Virginia, in 1985 and affiliated with George Mason University (GMU). IHS is proud to be part of the community at GMU, which has built a culture that values intellectual diversity and freedom of thought and expression.

The Institute for Humane Studies is an educational organization described in sections 501(c)(3) and 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) of the Internal Revenue.

The team at IHS is united by our mission and by a culture dedicated to lifelong learning and responsible action. Our values drive the personal and professional fulfillment of all team members and guide our daily decisions and efforts.

We Are Curious.

We value ideas and cherish the intellect. We strive for learning and growth and look to multiple sources. We value opposing views and welcome both challenges and challengers alike.

We Are Accountable.

We commit to results and measure them. We are solutions-oriented. We learn from failure, celebrate success, and take ownership of both.

We Are Responsible.

We insist on personal integrity and open, honest communication within IHS and between IHS and outside organizations.

We Are Enterprising.

We have a bias for action. We are proactive, looking for opportunities to improve ourselves and our work, to fill gaps, to solve problems, and to support our colleagues and allies.

IHS runs programs and engages faculty and students across the country, but we are also a strong local partner of George Mason University. GMU is a national leader in freedom of thought and expression in higher education. Our shared values make the university a natural fit for IHS. We are proud to be part of the Mason community.

Board & Leadership

We believe in the classical liberal vision of the good society: a tolerant and pluralistic society in which intellectual and economic progress are the norm, and where individuals and communities flourish in a context of openness, voluntary and peaceful cooperation, intellectual humility, and mutual respect.

Board of Directors

Prof. Christopher J. Coyne

George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Mr. Chris J. Rufer

The Morning Star Company, Woodland, CA

Prof. Todd J. Zywicki

George Mason University, Arlington, VA

Prof. Tyler Cowen

George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Mr. Brian Hooks

Stand Together, Arlington, VA

Prof. Virgil Storr

George Mason University, Fairfax, VA

Mr. Charles G. Koch, Chairman Emeritus

Koch Industries, Wichita, KS

Mr. James Arthur Pope

John William Pope Foundation, Raleigh, NC

Mr. Ryan Stowers, Chairman

Charles Koch Foundation, Arlington, VA

Our Leadership Team

Emily Chamlee-Wright

President and CEO

Courtney Derr

Chief Operating Officer

Gary Leff

Chief Financial Officer

Sarah Straw

Chief of Operations and Communications

Sharifa Ahmed

Director of Human Resources

Lindsey Jennings

Director of Development

Caroline Phelps

Managing Director of Programs and Partnerships

News & Media Mentions

May 17, 2023

Putting Classical Liberal Ideas to Work in the World

IHS Blog
April 25, 2023

We Still Need Professors With Good Ideas

March 1, 2022

The Four Corners of Liberalism: Mapping Out a Common Ground

Profectus Magazine
December 2, 2021

First Amendment Advocates Struggle to Say What's a Crime and What's Protected

USA Today
November 1, 2021

Virginia’s Next Governor and the Threat of a Constitutional Crisis

The Atlantic
September 21, 2021

Three Forces That Threaten Liberalism and How To Counter Them

Discourse Magazine

Here is the timeline for our application process:

  1. Apply for a position 
  2. An HR team member will review your application submission  
  3. If selected for consideration, you will speak with a recruiter 
  4. If your experience and skills match the role, you will interview with the hiring manager
  5. If you are a potential fit for the position, you will interview with additional staff members
  6. If you are the candidate chosen, we will extend a job offer


All candidates will be notified regarding the status of their application within two to three weeks of submission. As new positions often become available, we encourage you to visit our site frequently for additional opportunities that align with your interests and skills.