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The Institute for Humane Studies has awarded another round of major faculty awards through the Grant for Free Speech and Open Inquiry, the Sabbatical Research Fellowship, and the Discourse Initiative Research Grant. We spoke with recent faculty award winners about their project plans, contributions to the classical liberal tradition, and history with IHS.

Grant for Free Speech and Open Inquiry: Jennifer Baker on the Ethics of Free Speech

Jennifer BakerJennifer Baker is a professor of philosophy at the College of Charleston. Her research focuses on ethics, philosophy, and political theory.

Baker decided to apply for the IHS grant when she noticed a need for fresh virtue ethic arguments on the benefits of free speech. With the help of this faculty award, Baker will produce a paper on these ideas and garner feedback before publication.

“I am trying to update some older arguments from virtue ethics on what is good about letting people share their thoughts out loud. I think this is a way to defend free speech which avoids finger-pointing at the younger generation as being ‘poorly adjusted’ to life.”

– Jennifer Baker

While discussing “The Coddling of the American Mind” with her students, Baker realized that some arguments were missing from the conversation. She began developing a new argument from a virtue ethics perspective to show a broader positive value of free speech outside of behavioral corrections. Baker hopes that her paper will encourage more people to consider the importance and benefits of free speech for all.

“The idea is that even those of us who might not have a need for cognitive behavioral therapy can still benefit from free speech.”

– Jennifer Baker

Baker’s first Institute for Humane Studies program was a campus seminar during her undergraduate studies. Since then, Baker has participated in several IHS programs and hosted a weekend seminar on her campus in 2015 with the support of IHS. One of her favorite IHS programs was a discussion colloquium at Georgia State University on the failure of drug prohibition.

Sabbatical Research Fellowship: Adam Crepelle on American Indian Autonomy

Adam CrepelleAdam Crepelle is the director of the Tribal Law and Economics Project and a term assistant professor of law at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. Crepelle is an enrolled citizen of the United Houma Nation and works on issues related to governance, policing, and history of Indian reservations and tribes.

The sabbatical fellowship will free up his time to focus on research on American Indian laws. Crepelle is working on a book to shed light on native Indian history in the Americas and make a case for tribe autonomy and freedom from unjust laws.

“There’s not a lot of classical liberal ideology with Indian law, so you kind of have to invent the wheel.”

– Adam Crepelle

Houma Indians are considered a native Indian community — but not a tribe. Crepelle argues this is because they challenge the stereotype of the “wandering nomad.” He says that variation between tribes is overlooked; some tribes fit the narrative taught in history books, while others do not. In fact, many native Indian tribes prior to 1492 had complex societies that respected individual autonomy and property, Crepelle says. These tribes acknowledged intellectual property rights, privately owned property, and free trade.

“Markets are not averse to indigenous history or culture; it’s always been a part of it.”

– Adam Crepelle

Two of Crepelle’s primary goals in his current research are to change the way people look at native Indian history and to challenge laws that inhibit the freedom of native Indians. He hopes that this research will also impact the way readers view freedom and federal policies in America.

Crepelle has also received financial support through the Hayek Fund for Scholars, to support his work on self-governance and policing on reservations.

Discourse Initiative Research Grant: Clay Routledge on Existential Agency

Clay RoutledgeClay Routledge, professor of management at North Dakota State University, studies basic psychological needs and how these needs influence — and are influenced — by family, social bonds, economics, work, and broader cultural structures. As an existential psychologist, Routledge studies the human need for meaning and social connection.

He is currently conducting research on the motivational nature of meaning; what he calls “existential agency.” The research grant will support his project, “Does Existential Self-Regulation Promote Freedom and Flourishing?”

“Our cognitive capacities for introspection, imagination, and self-determination give us high levels of agency. I believe this agentic part of the human story is increasingly being neglected in contemporary scholarly work and social commentary.”

– Clay Routledge

The goal of his project is to demonstrate a correlation between existential agency and a free and flourishing society. Routledge says that, because broader institutional and social structures are contrived and sustained by the human mind and will, it is important to understand human motivations.

“I believe my work in existential psychology can help with promoting the tolerant, open, resilient, and optimistic mindset needed to sustain a diverse and free society.”

– Clay Routledge

Routledge first heard about IHS at a conference and explored the IHS website to learn more. Since then, he has participated in a variety of IHS programs including a discussion colloquium and research workshop. Routledge says he enjoys these opportunities to meet scholars with a shared interest in ideas related to the classical liberal tradition.

For more information on faculty awards and on-campus event support, visit our Funding Opportunities page. To learn more about IHS supported discussion colloquia, academic research seminars, and research workshops, visit our Academic Programs page. For updates, news, and stories, follow IHS on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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