Explore the history and promise of civil society in the United States with a focus on the role of philanthropy in civil society. Participants will be graduate students in the humanities and social sciences. Classic works by Adam Smith and Alexis de Tocqueville, as well as contemporary scholarship, will be discussed. Emily Skarbek, Assistant Research Professor in the Political Theory Project at Brown University, will lead this program’s four online sessions.  

We will convene online using the video conferencing platform Zoom.

If your application is accepted, IHS will provide a $500 honorarium for your full participation in this program.  

This program was conceptualized by Lenore Ealy of the Charles Koch Institute and Professor Daniel J. Smith of Middle Tennessee State University; it was developed in partnership with Professor Smith and MTSU’s Political Economy Research Institute. 

View the reading list here.


About Emily Skarbek

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Emily is an Associate Professor of Political Theory (Research) in the Political Theory Project and the Director of the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics research seminar at Brown University. Before joining Brown in 2017, she was a tenured lecturer in the newly-formed interdisciplinary Department of Political Economy at King’s College London. It was here that she worked with colleagues to develop new undergraduate degree programs in both political economy and philosophy, politics, and economics. She also served as program director of the masters in political economy. Emily’s two streams of research sit within the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics framework. The first examines how civil associations function to produce governance institutions under challenging circumstances such as natural disasters or the absence of state capacity. Her second stream of work examines the history of economic thought with an eye to how economic theory influences public policy. Emily’s work in this area has benefited from her time as a Fellow at the Center for History of Political Economy at Duke University in 2011-2012.


Thank you for your interest in this program. The Foundations of Civil Society program is currently closed. Please check back later for updates on future IHS Discussion Colloquia events.