The IHS is pleased to announce our latest online discussion series for graduate students, “Rousseau and Liberty.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau stood astride both the Enlightenment and Romantic periods, connecting the two through the force of his person and ideas. Rousseau was without a doubt one of the most important political and social thinkers in recent centuries, but his legacy remains hotly contested among Classical Liberals. In this series, discussants will examine Rousseau’s thought and work alongside a variety of recent authors who attempt to situate Rousseau’s ideas within the liberal tradition and the history of ideas.

Sessions will take place on Zoom, from 3:00-5:00pm, Eastern Time. Participants will receive an honorarium of $125 per session plus a $30 stipend for book purchases.


November 18: Smith, Rousseau, and Sympathy

December 16: Institutions of the General Will

  • Selections from The Social Contract, Rousseau (Any edition)
    • Book I: Chs. 1-2, 5-8
    • Book II: Chs. 1-4, 6-8, 11-12
    • Book IV: Chs. 1-2
  • “The Social Contract” – Matthew C. Simpson, Ch. 17 in The Rousseauian Mind, eds. Eve Grace and Christopher Kelly
  • Optional: “The Three General Wills in Rousseau” – Jason S. Canon (forthcoming)

January 13: Rousseau, Constant, and Democracy

February 17: Rousseau, Berlin, and Liberty