Who We Are

The Institute for Humane Studies supports and partners with professors to promote the teaching and research of classical liberal ideas and to advance higher education’s core purpose of intellectual discovery and human progress.


Our vision is to ensure higher education becomes a place where classical liberal ideas are regularly taught, discussed, challenged, and developed, and where free speech, intellectual diversity, and open inquiry flourish.

What We Do

At IHS, we believe the principles of the classical liberal tradition – including individual liberty and responsibility, limited government, economic freedom, the rule of law, free speech, and open inquiry – are the foundation of a just, peaceful, and prosperous world.

We believe for those ideas to take root, they must be taught, explored, and challenged in higher education.

That’s why IHS has built the foremost network of scholars across the country who are researching and teaching classical liberal ideas. We are a partner throughout their academic careers, offering guidance, resources, and access to a passionate, supportive community.

From the undergraduate student just beginning to develop an interest in classical liberal ideas to the established professor, IHS is a champion for each individual’s intellectual journey – and together we are partners for a free and open society.

Our History

The Institute for Humane Studies was founded in 1961 by Dr. F. A. “Baldy” Harper, a former economics professor at Cornell University. Part of a generation that lived through two devastating world wars and saw the rise of totalitarian dictatorships, Harper set up an institute devoted to research and education with the conviction that a greater understanding of human affairs and freedom would foster peace, prosperity, and social harmony.

Based for many years in Menlo Park, California, IHS moved to Fairfax, Virginia, in 1985 and affiliated with George Mason University (GMU). IHS is proud to be part of the community at GMU, which has built a culture that values intellectual diversity and freedom of thought and expression.

Our Values

At IHS, we believe freedom and the marketplace of ideas create a better future—a future in which individuals are able to unleash their potential as they strive to build a more just, peaceful, and prosperous world. That future will be molded by intelligent, motivated people who are dedicated to individual liberty, the rule of law, limited government, spontaneous order, and tolerance.

The team at IHS is united by our mission and by a culture dedicated to lifelong learning and responsible action. Our values drive the personal and professional fulfillment of all team members and guide our daily decisions and efforts.

We Are Curious.
We value ideas and cherish the intellect. We strive for learning and growth and look to multiple sources, internally and externally. Because we are curious, we value opposing views and welcome both challenges and challenger alike. We understand that we never have “the answer” ourselves and that humility and mutual respect are the key to personal success and the success of our mission.

We Are Accountable.
We commit to results and measure them. We are solutions-oriented. We learn from failure, celebrate success, and take ownership of both. Because we are accountable, we commit ourselves to the pursuit of progress, and we are conscientious stewards of the trust and resources invested in us.

We Are Responsible.
We insist on personal integrity, lawful behavior, and open, honest communication within IHS and between IHS and outside organizations. We succeed by sharing knowledge, behaving ethically, and helping each other. We keep our promises, value transparency, and extend goodwill.

We Are Enterprising.
We have a bias for action. We are proactive, looking for opportunities to improve ourselves and our work, to fill gaps, to solve problems, and to support our colleagues and allies. We experiment with new approaches, learn and adopt best practices, and optimize roles based on individual strengths.

Our Relationship with George Mason University

IHS runs programs and engages faculty and students across the country, but we are also a strong local partner of George Mason University. The university is one of the top venues for IHS programs with leading scholars engaged in the most critical debates in academia and American society.

GMU is a national leader in freedom of thought and expression in higher education. Our shared values make the university a natural fit for IHS. We are proud to be part of the Mason community.

Our Alumni

James Otteson receives the 2019 IHS Outstanding Alum Award

James R. Otteson

The Institute for Humane Studies is pleased to announce Professor James Otteson as the recipient of our 2019 Charles G. Koch Outstanding IHS Alum Award. Professor Otteson was presented the award at a reception in New York City in June when he showcased his most recent book, Honorable Business: A Framework for Business in a Just and Humane Society.

A renowned economist, Professor Otteson serves as the John T. Ryan Jr. Professor of Business Ethics at the University of Notre Dame. He specializes in political economy, the history of economic thought, Adam Smith, and the moral foundations of capitalism.

Board of Directors

Prof. Scott Beaulier
North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND
Prof. Christopher J. Coyne
George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Prof. Tyler Cowen
George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Mr. David C. Humphreys
Tamko Building Products, Joplin, MO
Mr. Charles G. Koch, Chairman Emeritus
Koch Industries, Wichita, KS
Mr. Brian Hooks
Stand Together, Arlington, VA
Mr. James Arthur Pope, Chairman
John William Pope Foundation, Raleigh, NC
Mr. Chris J. Rufer
The Morning Star Company, Woodland, CA
Prof. Virgil Storr
George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
Mr. Ryan Stowers
Charles Koch Foundation, Arlington, VA
Prof. Todd J. Zywicki
George Mason University, Arlington, VA


Kyle Hartz

Managing Director of Information and Community Strategy

Kurt Kehl

Managing Director of Communications and Marketing

Careers at IHS

To learn how you might contribute to our mission, view our current job openings. New job opportunities become available throughout the year, so if you are interested in IHS but don’t see a suitable opening at this time, we still encourage you to send us your resume and cover letter.