The Institute for Humane Studies is the leading institute in higher education dedicated to championing classical liberal ideas and the scholars who advance them.

Our vision is that 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.

Our Vision

Our vision is for free speech, open inquiry, and intellectual diversity to flourish on college campuses; for all college students to have an opportunity to study and debate the ideas of a free society; and for a growing community of scholars to research and teach the principles and practice of freedom.

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 and prosperous world.

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

That’s why we have built the foremost network of scholars across the country who are leading the advancement of classical liberal principles. 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 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 pursues its mission most effectively 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 advancing its 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 adapt best practices, and optimize roles based on individual strengths.


Our Relationship with George Mason University

IHS operates 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.

IHS hires more GMU alumni than graduates of any other university, and more than 90 IHS alumni have been hired by GMU.

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

Howard Baetjer

Howard Baetjer, Jr.

Howard Baetjer, Jr., lecturer in the department of economics at Towson University, is the 2017 winner of the Charles G. Koch Outstanding IHS Alum Award.

Howie is one of IHS’s most prolific and best-loved teachers. Participants at IHS seminars know him as an engaging speaker and listener, dedicated to helping his students understand the market process. He has taught more than three dozen IHS programs and hosted some of our most popular Learn Liberty videos.

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
Koch Industries, Wichita, KS
Mr. Brian Hooks
Charles Koch Foundation, Arlington, VA
Ms. Kristina J. Kendall
New Balloon Media, New York, NY
Mr. James Arthur Pope
John William Pope Foundation, Raleigh, NC
Mr. Chris J. Rufer
The Morning Star Company, Woodland, CA
Mr. Ryan Stowers
Charles Koch Foundation, Arlington, VA
Prof. Todd J. Zywicki
George Mason University, Arlington, VA


Ifat Lerner

Managing Director of Academic Talent Development

Work at IHS

To see 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, we still encourage you to send us an application.