IHS and George Will Discuss Conservatism, Liberalism, and the Current Political Climate at Discussion Colloquium

It has become almost commonplace to observe that Americans have been witnessing a rise in populism and new tensions between American conservatism and American liberalism. But what was the nature of the relationship between conservatism and liberalism in America prior to these recent developments? Are there important philosophical ties between liberalism and American conservatism? And what will be the future of American political ideology?

IHS sought answers to these pressing questions by convening an online discussion colloquium whose guest of honor, George Will, is a syndicated columnist and the author most recently of The Conservative Sensibility.

George F. Will
George F. Will

Mr. Will joined the last session of the discussion colloquium after being interviewed by IHS President Emily Chamlee-Wright in a separate online event open to the public. Colloquium participants read classic statements on the relationship between liberalism and conservatism alongside selections from The Conservative Sensibility

The interview of Mr. Will was the largest event in IHS history, with almost 600 people tuning in online. Colloquium participants benefited from extended time with Mr. Will in a much smaller and more personal— if still virtual— setting. Their comments capture the specialness of the occasion. 

There are increasingly few opportunities in higher education to engage ideas from a broad range of perspectives in an open, civil, charitable, and yet challenging environment. Seminars like this, sponsored by IHS, are what academia is supposed to be.

James R. Otteson, the John T. Ryan Jr. Professor of Business Ethics and Rex and Alice A. Martin Director of the Center for Ethical Leadership at the University of Notre Dame.

“The current antagonism between liberals and conservatives seems to me to be really unhealthy for the prospects of either liberalism or conservatism”, wrote Robert G. Ingram, Professor of History and Director of the Menard Family George Washington Forum at Ohio University. “This event, which brought together people with really different views, struck me as a really healthy chance for liberal and conservative faculty to be able to identify the common ground which they share.”

Jonathan Marks, Professor and Chair of Politics at Ursinus College, wrote: “It is invigorating…to make connections with and see in action other teachers and scholars who are interested in classical liberal ideas and who are allies in the effort to support open inquiry and the free exchange of ideas on our campuses.”

Inspired by the success of this event and the importance of these questions, IHS programming will continue to explore the future of liberalism in the coming academic year. 

Interested in our discussion colloquia or other IHS programs? We offer a variety of programming and funding opportunities for faculty and graduates. For more information, visit TheIHS.org.

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