IHS Discussion Colloquia

IHS Discussion Colloquia are designed for graduate students and faculty members seeking in-depth discussions about specialized topics in the classical liberal tradition. Our Discussion Colloquia utilize a roundtable discussion model and take place during a weekend with about 15 peers, a common set of readings, and an expert discussion leader. During the course of the program, participants will have the opportunity to discuss intensely interesting and challenging topics with their peers, network together, share their research, and hone their classical liberal scholarship with new ideas, perspectives, and tools.


These programs are free to attend and may take place either in-person or online. In the case of in-person discussions, IHS provides all materials, accommodations, and meals throughout the duration of the program, in addition to a generous travel stipend and $500 honorarium. Online programs also include generous honoraria and materials. See specific program websites for more information.

For more information, contact DiscussionColloquia@TheIHS.org. Participants can apply to any of the below programs.

Liberty, Responsibility and Mental Health
August 20, 2021 — August 22, 2021

Mental health is an immensely important topic, made all the more so in the COVID era. Happy, healthy individuals are the essential components of a free society, and a society with less mental health is likely to also be less free. This discussion colloquium will bring together graduate students and scholars working within the Classical Liberal tradition to study liberal approaches to mental health, individual responsibility, and liberty. The discussion will take place in the Washington, DC area from August 20-22, featuring Northwestern’s Professor Anna Chorniy as Discussion Leader.

Liberty, Responsibility and Mental Health

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World History of Liberalism

World history is necessarily interdisciplinary, drawing on insights from across the humanities; and liberalism has been integral—fundamental, even—to world history. Here we will shift endlessly across time and space, discovering kernels of liberalism everywhere from ancient China to the English Civil Wars, challenging ourselves to think much more richly, deeply, and widely about what exactly liberalism is, what is has been, where it’s gone, and where it’s heading.

Sessions will take place as close to the final Monday of each month as possible from 3:00pm-5:00pm (ET) unless otherwise noted or updated.

World History of Liberalism

Check out our new World History of Liberalism online series. Learn More | Apply Now

Radical Liberalism and the Abolition Movement
Second Thursday Each Month from Sept. 9 – Dec. 9, 2021

The IHS is pleased to announce our latest online discussion series, “Radical Liberalism and the Abolition Movement.” Without a doubt, the abolition of slavery (in the United States and elsewhere around the world) represented one of the greatest leaps forward in human dignity and liberty in history. For all of the abolition movement’s shortcomings, failures, and infighting, it remains a critical example of radical liberal ideas meeting the historical moment and pushing for key political changes. This discussion series will explore the Jacksonian roots of abolitionism, from New York’s “Locofoco” movement, to Rhode Island’s little-known civil war, and the odd, fractious political combinations that ultimately made abolition happen.
Sessions will take place on Zoom, the second Thursday of each month from 2:00-4:00pm, eastern time.

Radical Liberalism and the Abolition Movement

Check out our new Radical Liberalism and the Abolition Movement series.
Learn More | Apply Now

2020 Retrospective

2020 has been quite the wild ride. Practically no one has escaped the year unchanged or untouched by recent events. To put it all in some context, attempt to make some sense of it, and in an effort to gather together liberal scholars working to move the future in better directions, the IHS is beginning its next online seminar series: a retrospective on the year 2020. Students will discuss important recent work by Classical Liberal scholars on topics from COVID to SCOTUS–because even 2020 should not be left behind without being understood.

These discussions will unfold in 75-90 minutes discussions the first Friday of each month, from 4:00-6:00pm EST, January through August. Learn more

Economics Meets History
Wednesdays from September 22, 2021 — October 27, 2021

This series of two programs is designed to showcase what economists can offer other disciplines as well as what we can gain from them. This series was developed in partnership with Dr. Jesús Fernández-Villaverde. Economics Meets History covers a general overview of the field of economic history, with a focus on the process of long-term economic growth and its deep determinants. Emphasis will be placed on exploring how the analytical framework of economics can complement history’s detailed discussion of context, ideas, and sources. Our Discussion Leader will be Dr. Fernando Arteaga. The group will meet weekly on Wednesdays using Zoom for 6 sessions starting on September 22 and ending on October 27. Session 1 will begin at 12:00 PM and close at 2:00 PM Eastern Time; the following sessions will run from 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM Eastern Time.

Jonathan Barth Tells the Monetary Story of America

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Liberalism, Nationalism, and Community
February 4, 2022 — February 6, 2022

Too often, today’s liberals from across the political and intellectual spectrum seem to find themselves more or less adrift in an increasingly nationalistic world. As part of our upcoming “Advanced Topics” series co-sponsored with Liberty Fund, the IHS will host a Discussion Colloquium on the importance of comparing and contrasting liberalism and nationalism on the topic of community-building and maintenance. A mixed audience of faculty and late-stage graduate students will discuss texts from contemporary liberals and conservative nationalists to the history of the Sephardic Jewish diaspora and that community’s attempts to remain connected over vast distances during the Early modern period. The discussion will be led by Professor Jonathan Jacobs of the Central University of New York and will be hosted in the DC area.

Decline & Resurgence of Civil Society

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Liberty, Equality, and Redistribution
March 18, 2022 — March 20, 2022

As political and intellectual contests between Classical Liberals, Progressives, and a variety of conservatives continue to simmer (and occasionally boil), the subject of economic redistributionism is only more salient. To provide a variety of liberal interpretations, critiques, and endorsements of redistributionism, the IHS and Liberty Fund will be hosting an Advanced Topics discussion colloquium which should both challenge discussant’s presuppositions and better inform their research on this important topic moving forward. The primarily graduate student audience will discuss texts Hayek’s early interpretations of social justice and redistribution, modern philosophers—both Classical Liberal and otherwise—on different approaches to the topic, and debates over the Universal Basic Income from the likes of Peter Boettke and Matt Zwolinski. The conversation will be moderated by William & Mary’s Professor Chris Freiman and will be hosted in the DC area.

Publication Support

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Liberty’s Claims on Man and Citizen in the Life and Writings of Albert Camus
March 25, 2022 — March 27, 2022

Among the 20th century’s most important, interesting, challenging, inspirational, and individualistic philospher’s was Albert Camus. He did not fit comfortably within Existentialism (calling himself a medieval absurdist), contemporary politics, or the American tendency to draw a clean division between the individual and the rest of our social world. This conference, co-sponsored by the IHS and Liberty Fund, will bring together advanced graduate students and faculty to explore the life and works of Camus and the impact his work did, could, and should have had on Classical Liberalism and the modern world. The conversation will be moderated by Chapman University Professor of Political Economy and Philosophy, Michael Moses, and it will be hosted in the DC area.

Check out our Liberty’s Claims on Man and Citizen in the Life and Writings of Albert Camus series Learn more

Economics Meets Its Historiography
April 29, 2022 — May 1, 2022

This series of two programs is designed to showcase what economists can offer other disciplines as well as what we can gain from them. This series was developed in partnership with Dr. Jesús Fernández-Villaverde. Economics Meets its Historiography will be held in person in Philadelphia, PA on April 29th – May 1st. This program will focus on the history of economic thought and explore in-depth the approaches of past thinkers and theories of the firm, wages, prices, and trade. 

Economics Meets Its Historiography series Learn more | Apply Now

What to Expect

discussion colloquia

Participants will receive readers roughly two months in advance of the conference and should come thoroughly prepared to discuss the material. Discussion will be Socratic—that is, question-driven—and will include a range of expertise levels. Discussion Colloquia do not include any lectures, workshops, or presentations. They depend entirely on the quality of discussion each member brings to the table and the questions offered by the discussion leader. A full Discussion Colloquium consists of six sessions of one and a half hours each, and participants are required to attend all sessions as well as all social events (including meals).

Additional Details

  • To be eligible for consideration, participants must either be full-time PhD students or faculty members at a degree-granting college or university.
  • IHS provides accepted participants with all meals and shared housing accommodations for the duration of the seminar, based on dual-occupancy with another participant of the same gender.
  • Accepted participants will be eligible for a travel stipend to cover airfare or ground transportation to and from the seminar.

IHS Discussion Colloquia provide unique opportunities for scholars to explore classical liberal ideas at an advanced level, inspiring and informing further research.

Most importantly, participants will have a chance to meet peers who share their passion for ideas.

If you are new to IHS and would like to take advantage of other IHS resources, you can learn about our scholarship and grant programs here.

For more information, contact DiscussionColloquia@TheIHS.org.