IHS Discussion Colloquia

IHS Discussion Colloquia are designed for advanced graduate students and faculty members seeking in-depth discussions about specialized topics in the classical liberal tradition. Our Discussion Colloquia utilize a roundtable discussion model and take place during a weekend with about 15 peers, a common set of readings, and an expert discussion leader. During the course of the program, participants will have the opportunity to discuss intensely interesting and challenging topics with their peers, network together, share their research, and hone their classical liberal scholarship with new ideas, perspectives, and tools.


These programs are free to attend. IHS provides all materials, accommodations, and meals throughout the duration of the Discussion Colloquia. IHS also offers a generous travel stipend and $500 honorarium to help participants attend.

For more information, contact DiscussionColloquia@TheIHS.org. The Institute for Humane Studies will host three Discussion Colloquia this spring in Arlington, VA. Participants can apply to any of the below programs.

Artificial Intelligence and Liberal Futurism, with An Esteemed Faculty Member| February 7–9, 2020

We are no longer accepting applications for the Artificial Intelligence and Liberal Futurism Discussion Colloquium at this time.

Many of society’s leading engineers and computer scientists believe our world is on the brink of an intelligence explosion which will break and remake our civilization(s) in ways none of us will be able to predict. How can classical liberals prepare for this rapid expansion of intelligence and help contribute to ensuring it is a humanitarian success? How can we respond to potential catastrophes or doomsday scenarios which become all the more likely as technology becomes more powerful? How can we remain free in a world of potentially unlimited power? This seminar will engage scholars in discussing the future, its possible outcomes, its spontaneous character, and the implications for individual freedom.

Intersectionality and Individualism | August 7–8, 2020

We are no longer accepting applications for the Intersectionality and Individualism Discussion Colloquium at this time.

Is it possible to theoretically and practically merge the intersectional and individualistic methods in the social sciences? Does one imply the other, or can scholars understand human behavior either without reference to individuals or without reference to the intersections of an individual’s many different identities? This seminar will explore the contemporary concept of intersectionality and its place within a framework of methodological individualism, with particular emphasis on gender, race, religion, sexual identity, and individual agency.

Liberty, Responsibility, and Mental Health, with Prof. Sean Rife | July 17, 2020

We are no longer accepting applications for Liberty, Responsibility, and Mental Health Discussion Colloquium at this time.

Only individuals act and all individual actions accumulate into social movements, social institutions, or social problems. If classical liberals hope to maintain the freest societies possible, we will also have to advocate for the healthiest and most capable individual minds possible. This seminar will explore the rich and understudied tradition of caring for mental health within classical liberalism from the English Civil Wars and Restoration period right up through the present day. Participants will explore historical and current understandings of mental health, ways for individuals to become healthier decision-makers, and the ways a liberal worldview can positively contribute to individual and social health and wellness.

World History of Liberalism

“World history is necessarily interdisciplinary, drawing on insights from across the humanities; and liberalism has been integral—fundamental, even—to world history. Here we will shift endlessly across time and space, discovering kernels of liberalism everywhere from ancient China to the English Civil Wars, challenging ourselves to think much more richly, deeply, and widely about what exactly liberalism is, what is has been, where it’s gone, and where it’s heading.

Sessions will take place as close to the final Monday of each month as possible from 3:00pm-5:00pm (ET) unless otherwise noted or updated.”

World History of Liberalism

Check out our new World History of Liberalism online series here.

What to Expect

discussion colloquia

Participants will receive readers roughly two months in advance of the conference and should come thoroughly prepared to discuss the material. Discussion will be Socratic—that is, question-driven—and will include a range of expertise levels. Discussion Colloquia do not include any lectures, workshops, or presentations. They depend entirely on the quality of discussion each member brings to the table and the questions offered by the discussion leader. A full Discussion Colloquium consists of six sessions of one and a half hours each, and participants are required to attend all sessions as well as all social events (including meals).

Additional Details

  • To be eligible for consideration, participants must either be full-time PhD students or faculty members at a degree-granting college or university.
  • IHS provides accepted participants with all meals and shared housing accommodations for the duration of the seminar, based on dual-occupancy with another participant of the same gender.
  • Accepted participants will be eligible for a travel stipend to cover airfare or ground transportation to and from the seminar.

IHS Discussion Colloquia provide unique opportunities for scholars to explore classical liberal ideas at an advanced level, inspiring and informing further research.

Most importantly, participants will have a chance to meet peers who share their passion for ideas.

If you are new to IHS and would like to take advantage of other IHS resources, you can learn about our scholarship and grant programs here.

For more information, contact DiscussionColloquia@TheIHS.org.