Conversations Shaping the Course of the 21st Century and the Future of a Free Society
Addressing complex social, economic, and collective action problems facing modern societies requires leading-edge thinking and fresh application of the principles that drive human progress. The Institute for Humane Studies is building an academic network of high-impact scholars through in-person and online research communities that span generational, disciplinary, ideological, and professional divides to develop and advance the ideas that support thriving, free societies and widespread human flourishing. IHS will concentrate its activities and investments from 2022 to 2026 across four initiatives encompassing our twelve focus areas.
Liberalism, Pluralism, Democracy
Constitutionally constrained liberal democracies foster peace, freedom, and widespread prosperity. However, the rise of contemporary illiberal ideologies threatens democratic institutions, individual freedoms, and the prospects for peaceful pluralism. The Liberalism, Pluralism, and Democracy initiative aims to spark innovative ideas and solutions that uphold and fortify the norms and institutions that underlie the liberal project and promote widespread human flourishing.
Focus Areas: Trust & Polarization
Speech and Intellectual Freedom
Freedoms of speech, expression, and intellectual inquiry drive innovation, the growth of knowledge, and social progress. The Speech and Intellectual Freedom initiative supports research examining new and increasingly complex challenges to these freedoms, including those presented by illiberal political movements, technological change, and contemporary threats to academic freedom.
Focus Areas: Online Speech
Equality, Peace, and Prosperity
Individual liberty, equality before the law, free enterprise, and voluntary cooperation, are essential to prosperous, peaceful, and flourishing societies that enable every person to pursue their full potential. The Equality, Peace, and Prosperity initiative supports research investigating the barriers that inhibit people from realizing their full potential, the underlying causes of violent conflict, and solutions to overcoming these challenges that advance human freedom.
Focus Areas: Immigration, Trade and Industrial Policy, Health Opportunity, Housing, Barriers to Entrepreneurship, Women and Freedom, Criminal Justice Reform
Business and the Good Society
In addition to driving material well-being, entrepreneurs and businesses can foster trust, cooperation, personal growth, and moral development among business owners, employees, suppliers, and customers. The Business and the Good Society initiative supports research exploring the factors that promote commerce’s role in contributing to widespread human flourishing (within and beyond the economic realm), and factors that inhibit these effects.
Focus Areas: Corporate Governance, AI Design for a Free Society, Morality and Market Society