IHS Grant for Free Speech & Open Inquiry

Program Overview

With generous support from the Clifford S. Asness Family Foundation, IHS is proud to offer our Grant for Free Speech and Open Inquiry. The grant is designed to support faculty who are interested in fostering free speech and civil discourse in academia as they undertake research, plan campus events, or develop student curricula exploring the past, present, and future of free speech.

At the discretion of the IHS review committee, awards will range in size from $5,000 to $25,000. Relevant subject areas include, but are not limited to, the history and theory of free speech, philosophical and legal defenses of free speech, and the importance of open inquiry and intellectual diversity in higher education.

IHS is particularly interested in proposals that explore how the classical liberal tradition of individual rights, free markets, and self-governance have contributed to, or intersect with, the development of free speech and open inquiry.

These grants may be used to underwrite direct expenses; pay research assistants, editors, or other contractors; or buy out time. As a non-profit organization, the Institute for Humane Studies has a policy against supporting institutional overhead or indirect costs when making grants to university scholars.


To be eligible to apply for a major research award from IHS, you must:

  • Be employed as a full-time faculty member at a four-year degree granting institution. Preference will be given to institutions based in the United States.
  • Possess a strong research interest in or knowledge of liberalism and/or classical liberal scholarship as demonstrated in the proposed research project.

IHS supports a diverse collection of faculty members across a wide range of academic disciplines within the humanities and social sciences. Qualifying fields of study include economics, political science, philosophy, PPE, law, history, sociology, business, psychology, literature, the visual and performing arts, and related disciplines in the social sciences and humanities.

COVID-19 Implications

Implications for Travel

Given the significant uncertainty around travel due to COVID, IHS will continue to offer travel support via IHS Grant for Free Speech & Open Inquiry with the following stipulations:

  • For travel-related expenses, we will only issue awards after the activity takes place, and you must complete the originally proposed activity (e.g. if you are receiving funding for travel to a conference, IHS will transfer funds only after the conference has occurred).

Awardees own and assume the risk of any travel-related expenses from cancelled activities (e.g. if your conference has been canceled, we will not pay for any costs or fees associated with modified or canceled flights, room reservations, conference fees, and the like.

Implications for Events

In light of continued uncertainty about the duration of the COVID pandemic and related governmental and institutional guidelines and policies, all IHS-sponsored programs will be online through the 2020 calendar year. We will continue to monitor the situation for spring 2021 events.  Additionally, IHS will not offer grants for any large-scale events, conferences, or programs that take place in person this fall.  IHS may consider grants for small gatherings that meet all state, local, and university guidelines and policies AND have the ability to move online if circumstances change, e.g. a book club or reading group.

Application and Deadlines

Applications are currently being accepted for the 2021-2022 academic year and are open to academics at any stage of their careers. Applications deadlines are listed below:

April 1, 2021 | Applications for fall 2021 projects due
May 28, 2021
| Decisions announced

Award notifications will be sent to applicants within four weeks after each deadline. Successful applicants may be asked to visit the IHS headquarters in Arlington, Virginia to present relevant research to a select group of IHS staff members.

Unsuccessful candidates still seeking funding are encouraged to apply to our other funding opportunities.

For more information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.