Discussion Colloquia

About Our Discussion Colloquia

Discussion Colloquia enable faculty and graduate student to learn from each other by participating in structured discussions of foundational texts and contemporary scholarship in the classical liberal tradition selected for their intellectual rigor and relevance to a theme. Discussion Colloquia are hosted in partnership with faculty or academic centers at hotels or university campuses across the country or online.

Programs that convene in person typically include four to six 90-minute discussion sessions and 250 to 300 pages of reading. Online programs usually include three to four 75-minute discussion sessions and 200- 250 pages of reading.

For programs convening in person, participants receive an honorarium, a travel stipend, all meals, and lodging for their full participation. For online programs, participants receive an honorarium for their full participation.

As part of its Discourse Initiative, IHS is particularly interested in research and programs in the following general categories: Liberalism and Its Critics, Key Challenges within a Free Society, Cultural Challenges within Liberal Society, Contentious Topics within the Liberal Tradition, and Liberalism in Times of Crisis. Learn more about the Discourse Initiative here.

IHS welcomes applications and proposals on these or other related topics from scholars in all disciplines.

March 26-28, 2021

History of Capitalism

History of Capitalism

The purpose of this colloquium is to better understand recent trends in the study of the history of capitalism, to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the New History of Capitalism, and to ponder how scholars should define capitalism more broadly. The agenda will include topics such as the “old” and “new” history of capitalism, capitalism and slavery, big business, competition and the state, finance, and inequality. Participants will be encouraged to discuss how they might approach the history of capitalism in their own work.

This program was conceptualized by and created in partnership with Dr. David Sicilia.

April 9-11, 2021


Religious Liberty at the Crossroads

This colloquium explores current academic debates on religious liberty with a view toward encouraging open and respectful dialogue between proponents of diverse perspectives. Religious pluralism, freedom of conscience, and the conflict between religious liberty and equal protection are among the topics that will be examined.

This program was conceptualized by and created in partnership with Dr. Barbara A. McGraw of Saint Mary’s College of California.

April 16-17, 2021

Liberty, Property, and Pollution

Liberty, Property, and Pollution

This discussion colloquium explores how liberal principles can inform responses to large-scale pollution problems in the environmental arena. Participants will include leading experts in environmental law, political science, and philosophy. After the colloquium, participants will produce original research on what resources liberalism provides and what challenges remain. A research workshop in which participants will critique each other’s research to prepare their work for publication in a prospective edited volume will follow in the fall of 2021.

This program was conceptualized by and developed in partnership with Professor Jonathan H. Adler, Director of the Coleman P. Burke Center for Environmental Law at Case Western Reserve University.

May 1-2, 2021

Political Speech

Political Speech

This program convenes leading scholars in law, the humanities, and the social sciences to think through how to conceptualize and measure the societal impacts of political speech understood as non-profit donor privacy and related First Amendment issues. Participants will seek to identify gaps in the academic literature, better understand how that literature relates to the policy conversation, develop key research questions, and prioritize what research is needed.

This program was conceptualized by and developed in partnership with Professors Bradley A. Smith and Jeffrey Milyo.

May 24-26, 2021

Civil Society and Pluralism in Smith, Hume, and Burke

Civil Society and Pluralism in Smith, Hume, and Burke

The purpose of this colloquium is to introduce scholars, policy makers and practitioners associated with the C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University to seminal texts in the classical liberal intellectual tradition, while providing Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) scholars with a more concrete understanding of those texts as they apply to current debates about the modern administrative state.

This program was conceptualized by and developed in partnership with Prof. Adam White.

Have an Idea for Your Own Discussion Colloquium?

Please contact us at DiscussionColloquia@TheIHS.org for more information and include the following: a current CV, a detailed description of the program topic, and the dates that you have in mind for the program.



See What You Missed from Our Previous Discussion Colloquia

Coexisting in a Pluralist Society November 14-15, 2020, Online

Free Speech, Free Press, and Misinformation November 7-8, 2020, Online

Intersectionality and Individualism March 27-29, 2020 in Arlington, VA

Sociology and the Classical Liberal Tradition February 21-23, 2020 in Arlington, VA


Artificial Intelligence and Liberal Futurism February 7-9, 2020 in Arlington, VA

Introduction to Law and Economics Through the Work of Elinor Ostrom January 24-25, 2020 in Fort Worth, TX

Ideological Bias in the Classroom November 8-9, 2019 in Washington, DC