Discussion Colloquia

IHS discussion colloquia center around  authentic  conversation and bring  a small group of  students together to create an open forum to discuss ideas. These programs are ideal for professors who seek to engage their most  curious  intellectually  driven  students and  are typically invitation-only events.  

 These events are day-long, invitation only, in which 15 students will come together to learn, discuss, and challenge ideas within an open forum. These programs provide professors with the opportunity to engage with their most intellectually curious students and provide a unique educational experience outside the normal classroom setting.

Faculty Partner Involvement 

As a faculty partner, your initial role in planning the creation of a discussion colloquium event includes: 

  • Deciding on an event date 
  • Working with IHS on a program proposal
  • Choosing a discussion topic  
  • Selecting a discussion leader; either yourself, or IHS can assist in finding a faculty member within our network 
  • Procuring a reserved venue 

Students’ Involvement 

Students invited to the discussion colloquium are expected to participate in the following: 

  • Read the events 150-page reader, which contains selected excerpts from scholars on   the designated topic. A hard copy will be sent a month prior to the event. 
  • Attend the day-long event, including all meals and discussion groups 
  • Program permitting, some students are eligible to receive a $100 stipend for their investment and contributions 

IHS’s Involvement 

The Institute for Humane Studies offers faculty logistical and event support for discussion colloquiums, including the following: 

  • Providing catering and meals
  • Offering honorariums and stipends 
  • Reader creation, including acquiring copyrights, printing, production and shipment of the readers. 
  • Staffing the event and providing on-site assistance and resources 
  • All other logistical work as needed 

To prepare for the discussion, students complete a roughly 150-page set of readings on a specific topic in advance, which helps facilitate an in-depth exploration of the questions and challenges by said readings. 

This colloquium gave me the kind of opportunities I’ve wanted but have been unable to find on campus, a chance to have a frank dialogue with my peers about the future of the nation we are inheriting.– Ross Taylor, Student Participant, Christopher Newport University 

IHS gave me the opportunity to peruse the very complicated yet important topic of free speech with a number of politically diverse yet highly intellectual individuals. It was an incredible experience and definitely a highlight of my education so far.” – Tobias Hoonhout, Student Participant, University of Notre Dame 

“As a Professor, coming in as an observer, I was very impressed with the quality and complexity of the student dialogue. I can tell that many of the students’ understanding grew through this colloquium.” 
Nicholas Nicholletti, Professor, Missouri Southern State University 

Toleration in a Free Society

Toleration in a Free Society

This reader discusses thoughts surrounding free speech through arguments in favor of tolerating speech seen as “wrong,” counter-arguments challenging absolute free speech, and more contemporary perspectives.

Markets and Morality

Markets and Morality

The general theme of this reader asks if markets help facilitate a virtuous and more cooperative society or incentivize corruption and greed. The final session suggests ways markets may elevate the well-being of the global poor.               

Public Choice & Government Failure

Public Choice and Government Failure


This reader offers students a cursory overview of Public Choice theory and then applies some basic concepts to common government problems.

Economics and a Free People

Economics and a Free People

Point-counter-point readings regarding capitalism. Foundational writings from classic works referencing the ideas of: division of labor, individualism and collectivism, protectionism, and general laissez-faire philosophy.

What Adam Smith Knew

What Adam Smith Knew

This reader offers point-counter-point readings arguing for and against capitalism while focusing on foundational writings dealing with the basic economic, philosophical, and political perspectives.

Political Thought of Frederick Douglass

Political Thought of Frederick Douglass

This reader moves chronologically through Frederick Douglass’s life and thought process, with reference to the events taking place in the United States at the time of the given writing.

Sacred Rights

Sacred Rights

This reader focuses on religious freedom within the context of early American history and discusses interpretations of the First Amendment in several early American historical periods.

Hayek on Liberty

Hayek on Liberty


This reader focusses Hayek’s “knowledge problem” and the phenomenon of “spontaneous order”—the latter being Hayek’s approach to best deal with the former.

Morality and Law

Morality and Law

Explore the relationship between the law and society’s views on morality. Topics range from Mill’s thoughts on individuality, the tension between “sin” and criminality, to laws regarding consensual sex.

Have an idea or a need? 

Interested in working with IHS to start a discussion on your campus? Our Student Programs Team has numerous curated classical liberal readings and topics to choose from, including philosophy, history, economics, literature, and more. We work with you to choose the appropriate topic that will ignite a conversation and challenge your best students.

IHS Discussion Colloquia Staff 

Angel Lauver 

Student Programs Project Manager 

 

 

 

Alexander McWhirt  

Student Programs Specialist  

For more information about our discussion colloquia or our application process, please contact CampusEvents@TheIHS.org.

IHS has worked with a range of faculty from various disciplines to build a wide variety of discussions and reading topics to choose from, and strives to provide new, and engaging topics each semester.

For more information and inquiries, please contact CampusEvents@TheIHS.org