The Lasting Impact of Summer Seminars

Summer Seminars

The Institute for Humane Studies Summer Seminars offer an experience for intellectual growth and a deeper understanding of classical liberal ideas. It’s also a place to make life-long friendships with people who share the same affinity for enriching discussion on a range of topics.

Dr. Richard Boyd

Dr. Richard Boyd, associate professor of government at Georgetown University, and Dr. Fabio Rojas, professor of sociology at Indiana University, met in 1993 at the IHS Liberty & Society Summer Seminar in Belmont, California.

While the program has evolved slightly over time, the structure is still the same with breakout sessions, lecturers, and ample time to discuss the day’s ideas among peers. It isn’t unusual to find participants debating into the night. The conversations Dr. Boyd and Dr. Rojas had at this seminar are etched into their memories.

I did a [Summer Graduate Research Fellowship] which allowed me to get a journal article written and published before I went out on the job market

– Dr. Richard Boyd

Since 1993, Dr. Boyd and Dr. Rojas have remained friends. There’s a kinship in the shared pursuit of classical liberal ideas, and throughout the decades these two have kept up with each other’s published work and their varying roles at colleges around the country.

“I had a discussion with Ralph Raico about the importance of the French liberals,” Dr. Rojas says. “That’s his big thing: the importance of the French classical liberals who are often overlooked in Anglo and American discussion groups.”

Dr. Fabio Rojas

I tell people that if you’re just interested in ideas of individual freedom, liberty, markets, economic growth, this is a really great place to talk to people about that… What I feel is really kind of a unique thing about IHS is they definitely have values, they’re classical liberals and oriented that way, but they’re very open towards talking to lots of people.

– Dr. Fabio Rojas

“I mean it’s kind of amazing,” Dr. Boyd follows. “26 years later, we still remember a handful of the conversations we had.”

This Summer Seminar influenced the direction of their careers, with IHS supporting them along the way.

“I did a [Summer Graduate Research Fellowship] which allowed me to get a journal article written and published before I went out on the job market,” Dr. Boyd says.

He also was a recipient of the Hayek Fund, was a Humane Studies Fellow, and has regularly participated in a number of Research Workshops and Discussion Colloquia—all since that summer of 1993.

While Dr. Rojas initially began with a tertiary degree in mathematics, he switched out of physical science to social science.

“There were a lot of opportunities for like, grants, and I also did a summer research fellowship,” Dr. Rojas says.

They both saw the value of these programs and opportunities, and as a result the connections they made through them. In their own positions at universities, they have recommended graduate students passionate about classical liberal ideas to pursue programs with IHS.

“I tell people that if you’re just interested in ideas of individual freedom, liberty, markets, economic growth, this is a really great place to talk to people about that,” says Dr. Rojas. “What I feel is really kind of a unique thing about IHS is they definitely have values, they’re classical liberals and oriented that way, but they’re very open towards talking to lots of people.”

It’s a rare balance to find, he adds, in that IHS welcomes a wide range of students for discussions.

Today, doctors Rojas and Boyd have their own works in progress. 

“I’m finishing up a series of articles on liberalism and boundaries, and how different capacities or different arguments within liberalism argue for including people or excluding people,” Dr. Boyd says.

Dr. Rojas’s newest work focuses on the mechanics of the market, specifically the art market, and how people build their reputation in an environment that is inherently uncertain.

“In something like painting, what makes one better than the other?” he asks. “There’s all these gatekeepers who come in . . . I’ve been thinking a lot more about the issues of freedom within the sociological tradition.”

Our Summer Seminars are a place to explore the ideas that shape a free society, a stepping stone for students to dive deeper into their academic interests before beginning or completing a PhD program, and a venue to establish meaningful friendships that can add value to the lifespan of their careers.

Learn more about Summer Seminars and other graduate student opportunities with IHS. Applications are now open for our 2020 sessions.

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