Institute for Humane Studies
|Type||501(c)(3) public charity|
|Tax ID No.||941623852|
|Founder(s)||F. A. "Baldy" Harper|
|Key people||President Marty Zupan|
|Area served||United States|
|Focus(es)||Civil society, civic engagement and social entrepreneurship|
|Mission||Peace, prosperity, and social harmony from a greater understanding of human affairs|
|Method(s)||Research and education|
The Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) is a libertarian non-profit organization that offers educational and career programs. The educational programs include seminars for university students, awarding scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students, an interactive website based on a multi-axis model of political thought, and an archive of recorded lectures. The career assistance programs include paid internships for students and recent graduates, recognition of alumni accomplishments, and a networking website for classical liberal academics.
Founded by F. A. "Baldy" Harper in 1961, the organization later began an association with George Mason University and in 1985 moved to Fairfax, Virginia. The institute is currently located in Hazel Hall on the Arlington campus of George Mason University.
The Institute for Humane Studies was founded in 1961 in Menlo Park, California by F. A. Harper in order to promote peace, prosperity, and social harmony by fostering a greater understanding of human affairs and freedom.  Initially serving as the secretary and treasurer, Harper became the Institute's president in 1966, a position he held until his death in 1973. Following Harper in the role of president were Louis M. Spadaro and Leonard Liggio, who served as president from 1980 to 1989. From 1998 to 2000 Stanford graduate David C. Nott, now with the Reason Foundation, led the organization as president. The current president Marty Zupan, a former editor of Reason magazine, was appointed in 2001, after serving as vice-president since 1989.
After beginning an association with George Mason University, Liggio, Walter Grinder, and John Blundell moved the institute to Fairfax, Virginia in 1985. The organization is currently located in Hazel Hall on the George Mason University Arlington campus, along with sister organization the Mercatus Center.
Organization and funding
The institute is governed by a board of directors, currently chaired by Charles G. Koch. The other members of the board of directors are John Blundell, Richard H. Fink, Jerome Fullinwider, Timothy Otis Browne, Tyler Cowen, Art Pope, David Humphreys, Eric O'Keefe, Todd Zywicki, William Sumner, Kristina Kendall, and Craig Johnson.
IHS has received funding from a number of foundations, including the Sarah Scaife Foundation, the Koch Family Foundations, and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. In March 2012, in the midst of a legal dispute between Charles Koch and the Cato Institute that caused renewed scrutiny of Koch's political philanthropy, IHS's chief financial officer told the New York Times that Koch is "a longtime and generous supporter of ours, but we’re not involved as a political organization."
Each summer, IHS runs a series of free, week-long summer seminars for university students from around the world. Seminars are interdisciplinary and include lectures on history, economics, philosophy, law, and political science. Seminar themes include the value of property rights, limited government, peace, natural rights, free trade, individual autonomy, and free markets. There are introductory and advanced seminars, as well as seminars geared toward students planning careers in public policy, academia, and journalism. IHS also runs weekend on-campus seminars during the academic year. IHS and Liberty Fund co-sponsor the Advanced Topics in Liberty program, which is an invitation-only, discussion-based weekend conference series. For graduate students pursuing academic careers, IHS sponsors invitation-only Career Development Seminars designed to help students "land a job in academia, gain tenure, and contribute to the academic and intellectual conversation."
Through its Humane Studies Fellowship program, IHS awards scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students embarking on "liberty-advancing careers in ideas." Each summer, through the Summer Graduate Research Fellowship, IHS gives $5,000 stipends to young academics "to refine and complete a publishable scholarly article or thesis chapter that engages ideas within the classical liberal tradition."
In the Daily Caller, Matthew Zwolinski wrote that IHS trains professors to expose students to libertarian ideas: "[IHS] mentors graduate students through the process of finishing their classes and writing their dissertations. And it helps them find jobs. In the 50 years of its existence, IHS has put over 1,200 professors into classrooms across the country where they teach over a quarter of a million students each year. And those students are exposed to libertarian ideas not just in a 30-second advertisement or debate answer, but for an entire semester, rigorously and in depth."
In 2010, IHS launched LearnLiberty.org, a website providing educational videos on libertarian ideas. The site's stated goals are “to provide a starting point for conversations on important questions: What is the nature of man and society? What are the best ways to organize human society? What is the proper role for government?” Notable guest lecturers featured on LearnLiberty include David Schmidtz of the University of Arizona and Jeffrey Miron of Harvard University.
IHS also operates Politopia.com, an educational interactive website based on the Nolan Chart. Through a series of questions, the website places participants on a four-sided political map. Its purpose is to help individuals conceptualize political views.
IHS maintains Kosmosonline.org, a networking website for classical liberal academics. The site's goal is to "provide career advice and intellectual resources for liberty advancing academics." The term "kosmos" comes from Friedrich Hayek's use of the term in Law, Legislation and Liberty.
Each summer, for more than 20 years, IHS hosted the Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program. The program is now hosted by the Charles Koch Institute. The program ran for 10 weeks, and included a paid public policy internship with two career and policy seminars. Fellows were placed at one of 80 partner think tanks and policy organizations across the United States. IHS also ran a year-round journalism internship program that places aspiring journalists who support individual liberty, free markets, and peace at media companies and non-profit newsrooms, but both the journalism and policy internship programs appear to have been discontinued, according to IHS's website.
Each year, IHS awards an alumnus of its programs with the Charles G. Koch Outstanding IHS Alum Award. The award is given in recognition of "significant contributions to advancing liberty." Past award winners include libertarian legal theorist and law professor Randy Barnett; Kris Mauren, co-founder of the Acton Institute; law professor Todd Zywicki; Kristina Kendall, executive producer for John Stossel; political science professor John Tomasi; Scott Bullock, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice; economist Peter Boettke; John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation; and David Schmidtz, a professor of philosophy and economics.
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