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In the grand tapestry of societal evolution, higher education has often held the threads that weave together the fabric of open-mindedness, critical thinking, and intellectual freedom that propels democratic societies forward. Yet, within the context of modern challenges, the goals and the mission that once defined the intricate nature of these educational institutions are fading. What does this mean for our global pursuit of knowledge, and, more pertinently, for the values that anchor the great American experiment in liberty and democracy?

This question is one of great importance to us here at the Institute for Humane Studies, where we seek to recenter ideas and solutions on freedom and human flourishing through scholarships, research funding, and intellectual convenings.

The Challenges that Threaten Academic Freedom

The backdrop against which academia operates today is not without its challenges. It is one marred by the tides of authoritarianism swelling against the walls of intellectual bastions. The hallmark of scholarly pursuit, academic freedom, is in jeopardy of being eroded. The very institution that has historically nurtured free thought is now retreating into the shadows of polarization and intolerance, leaving a vacuum where voices once harmonized to challenge and shape societies in visionary ways.

The dichotomy of twin crises — the deteriorating state of universities and the ascendancy of authoritarian philosophies — is not one of mere happenstance. The interplay is visceral, with each force exacerbating the other. Universities had been erected to serve as the cradles of intellectual diversity but have gradually succumbed to ideological homogeneity, often at the expense of free inquiry.

A unique harmony once existed between the liberal ideal and the educational endeavor, with the former invigorating the latter. Now, those very ideals are thrust into question by the institutions that were to protect them. 

The challenges facing academia are multifaceted. Partisan politics have seeped into the hallowed halls of learning, shaping the narrative and demarcating the spectrum of permissible debate. The marketplace of ideas is no longer the free space it should be. This is exemplified by growing statistics that demonstrate the ideological congruence of faculty members within particular domains of study.

Likewise, the narrative in some disciplines has tilted towards activism, pushing the boundaries of scholarship into the realm of social engineering. Administrations, in their attempts to remain in sync with student bodies, have, at times, overlooked chartering neutral territories that can serve as the venues for robust, dispassionate conversation.

Scholars As Catalysts for Change

Addressing the systemic decline in academic freedom requires concerted and sustained efforts. The Institute for Humane Studies serves as a hub for intellectual revitalization by nurturing a new generation of scholars and intellectuals who are steadfast in their pursuit of truth and their commitment to guiding principles of liberty through scholarships, research funding, and intellectual convenings.

Recognizing the central role that ideas have played in the history of human progress, IHS is fostering the conditions by which freedom-based ideas and solutions achieve the broadest reach possible, both within and far beyond the university classroom.

Academic Research

One facet of this change can be seen within academic research, with IHS providing research funding and workshop support for a first-of-its-kind anthology on technology ethics edited by philosophers Gregory Robson (University of Notre Dame) and Jonathan Tsou (UT Dallas).

Published by Routledge in January 2023, this volume establishes classical liberal principles and approaches as the place to begin for scholars grappling with ethical issues related to emergent technologies.

Example of an autonomous vehicle

Their work is already being cited in academic discourse around the ethics of autonomous vehicles, psychotherapeutic phone apps, and bio-enhancements in sports.

Public Policy

Scholars also play a key role in advancing a just, free, and prosperous society through policy reform, as evidenced by Jonathan Adler’s (Case Western Reserve University) work in the development of Climate Liberalism: Perspectives on Liberty, Property and Pollution. 

Published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2023, the volume was cited in amicus briefs submitted to the Supreme Court in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (2023), which rolled back the regulatory authority of the EPA by altering the agency’s jurisdiction over wetlands.

Stock market graphic

Public Commentary

Another area where scholars are poised to make a great impact is in advancing freedom-based paradigms in journalism, public intellectual venues, and social media. Legal scholars John Anderson (Mississippi College School of Law), Jeremy Kidd (Drake University), and George A. Mocsary (University of Wyoming) conducted the first large-scale national survey of public attitudes regarding insider trading since 1986. 

With proposals to impose stricter regulations pending, this study offers critical empirical evidence on the impact such practices have (and don’t have) on public trust in capital markets and publicly traded companies. Since its publication in Seton Hall Law Review, this study has been cited by over 30 news outlets covering ESG debates.

Empowering the Future

Fostering change both within and beyond the academy rests on working with leaders across key societal institutions, such as movers and shakers within business, public policy, education, and civil society. Leaders who have the principles of a free society ready at hand when addressing complex challenges within their spheres of influence. 

With eyes wide open to the current crisis within higher education, we recognize the power of transformational impact scholars have by sharing the foundational principles that underlie free, open, and prosperous societies with their students. 

Peter Boettke (George Mason University) is one such example, whose commitment to the principle of “paying it forward” in academia illustrates the transformative power of investing in young scholars. Through teaching, mentoring, and publishing, Boettke is a prime example of the ripple effect in action: supporting and empowering students to explore classical liberal ideas and understand complex economic concepts. Through the work of professors like him, there is the promise of a culture of mentorship and knowledge-sharing to advance academic freedom and nurture future generations of scholars.

Prof. Peter Boettke

Standing at the Crossroads of Choice

We stand squarely at a crossroads where the choices we make today will craft the legacy of tomorrow. Will our society retreat into echo chambers, mute to the dissonance of contrasting voices? Or, will we, in the spirit of the liberal democratic project, cherish the diversity of thought and trudge forward with the onus of magnifying human potential through education and free inquiry?

For those who espouse the latter, IHS and its affiliated bodies beckon with opportunities to be part of this noble crusade. Your support will not only underwrite the academia that is slipping away but will lay the groundwork for a collective resurgence. The time to invest in the future of higher education — and, by extension, the future of our society — is now. 

Your support for the Institute for Humane Studies plays a pivotal role in investing in the scholars whose work, teaching, and research foster a community where intellectual exploration thrives and impactful ideas can flourish. To learn more about IHS scholars, programs, and funding opportunities, visit

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.