Intercollegiate Studies Institute

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Intercollegiate Studies Institute
Intercollegiate Studies Institute logo.png
Abbreviation ISI
Motto Educating for Liberty
Formation 22 June 1953
Type Nonprofit Educational Organization
Headquarters Wilmington, Delaware
Christopher G. Long
Board Chairman
Alfred S. Regnery

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Inc. (or ISI), is a nonprofit educational organization founded in 1953 and headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware. ISI's mission is to inspire college students to discover, embrace, and advance the principles and virtues that make American free and prosperous.[1] ISI supports limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility, the rule of law, a free-market economy, and traditional values.[2]

By educating students in the ideas behind the free market, the American founding, and Western civilization, ISI aims to educate future leaders who will shape American culture through academia, journalism, politics, business, law, and other areas. ISI uses programs intended to supplement a collegiate education and provides access to resources that help achieve an education based primarily on works of influential men and women in the European and Christian traditions. ISI reaches more than 10,000 student and faculty members in the United States through an integrated program of campus speakers, intensive conferences and seminars, student-led newspapers and clubs, fellowships and scholarships, books and magazines, and online resources.

Since 2011, the organization’s president has been Christopher G. Long. ISI’s founding president was William F. Buckley Jr.[1]

GuideStar, an information service that reports on nonprofit organizations, gives ISI its Gold-level rating, demonstrating the Institute’s commitment to transparency.[3]


In the early 1950s journalist Frank Chodorov called for a “fifty-year project” to revive the American ideals of individual freedom and personal responsibility “by implanting the idea in the minds of the coming generations.” To that end, in 1953 he founded ISI as the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, with a young Yale University graduate, William F. Buckley Jr.,[4][1] as president. E. Victor Milione, ISI’s next and longest-serving president, was the enterprising individual who realized Chodorov’s plan by developing publications, a membership network, a lecture and conference program, and a graduate fellowship program. The name was changed to the current in 1966.

Intercollegiate Society of Individualists ad in the New Individualist Review Vol 3, Nr 3, Autumn 1964.

The University of Chicago Chapter of ISI, was the initial sponsor of the New Individualist Review which reached a national audience of readers between 1961 and 1968. It declared itself “founded in a commitment to human liberty.” Its contributors spanned the libertarian-conservative spectrum.[5]

Over the years, ISI has established itself as a leading conservative educational organization. As historian Lee Edwards observes in Educating for Liberty, a history of ISI during its first fifty years (1953–2003): “ISI is today the educational pillar of the conservative movement and the leading source of information about a free society for the many students and teachers who reject the postmodernist zeitgeist.”[6] President Ronald Reagan said:

By the time the Reagan Revolution marched into Washington, I had the troops I needed—thanks in no small measure to the work with American youth ISI had been doing since 1953. I am proud to count many ISI products among the workhorses of my two terms as President.

Former Reagan administration official T. Kenneth Cribb Jr. served as president of ISI from 1989 until 2011, when current president Christopher G. Long took over.[7] Cribb is credited with expanding ISI's revenue from one million dollars that year to $13,636,005 in 2005.[8][9] Charity Navigator gives ISI an overall rating of 61,51, which is in the range of "excellent." They note that 84.4% of expenses go to program expenses.[10] In 2010, they gave ISI a 4-star rating for the 7th consecutive year, which is a result only one percent of charities accomplish.[11]

Core values[edit]

Personification of Faculty of Arts. A liberal education aims at granting an understanding of human nature and perennial values - concepts that are questioned in modern curricula.

Although ISI does not have any official partisan affiliation, the Institute embraces conservative positions. One of the principal intellectual fathers of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute was Russell Kirk, who secured a place for the eighteenth-century Anglo-Irish statesman Edmund Burke in American conservatism. Other major twentieth-century intellectual influences include William F. Buckley Jr., Frank Meyer, Robert Nisbet, F. A. Hayek, Richard Weaver, and Whittaker Chambers. One of the primary reasons given for the existence of ISI is that education in the modern university is insufficiently liberal (in the traditional sense, i.e., liberal arts) to meet the needs of a classical education.

Leadership Development Programming[edit]

On-Campus Groups and Events[edit]

ISI works with thousands of students and faculty members on college campuses across the country. It organizes and mentors campus conservative groups, or “ISI Societies.” These groups are designed to offer intellectual conservative students a forum for discussion and serve as a vehicle for ISI’s campus lectures, debates, and conferences. An example of an ISI-affiliated group isYale's Federalist Party, a member of the Yale Political Union. Groups receive resources from ISI, including books, magazines, journals, financial grants, and mentoring.

ISI also hosts dozens of lectures, debates, conferences, and other events on campuses with prominent conservative speakers and academics. Events discuss themes including Western civilization, political philosophy, economics, literature, technology, and more. Recent events include: a debate between Dr. James Stoner and Dr. Michael Munger on the topic “Is There a Moral Basis for the Free Market?” at Jacksonville State University;[12] a debate between PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel and author George Gilder on “The Prospects for Technology and Economic Growth” at Stanford University;[13] a lecture by Heritage Foundation scholar Ryan T. Anderson at Boston College on his book What Is Marriage?;[14] and a lecture by Anthony Esolen titled “Dante and the Good Life” at Salve Regina University.[15]

ISI fights alleged political correctness and liberal bias on collegiate campuses. It holds the yearly "Polly Awards" which sheds media scrutiny on questionable campus events across the nation.[16]

Leadership Conferences[edit]

ISI steers its brightest and most talented students into high-level leadership development programs. The organization hosts weekend Regional Leadership Conferences for talented undergraduates throughout the school year. In addition, each summer it hosts a number of weeklong conferences.

ISI’s most selective leadership program for undergraduates is the Honors Program, founded in 1995. Open to undergraduates in all disciplines, the Honors Program offers the best and brightest students the opportunity to study the roots of Western civilization with top professors.

Each year, ISI selects sixty Honors Scholars from a national pool of applicants. The yearlong program begins with a weeklong summer conference. That intellectual retreat consists of lectures and small-group seminars led by ISI professors from the humanities, social sciences, and arts. The 2013–14 ISI Honors Program Summer Conference was held in Richmond, Virginia, on the theme “Rights and Duties.” The 2014–15 class of Honors Scholars will be divided into two summer conferences, one held in Richmond and the other in Seabeck, Washington; those conferences will focus on “The Traditions of Liberty.”[17]

Each Honors Scholar is paired with a professor, and throughout the following school year the Honors Scholars engage in an independent course of study on the free society with their faculty mentors. In addition, they participate in weekend seminars that ISI runs in partnership with Liberty Fund.

Collegiate Network Student Newspapers[edit]

ISI’s student journalism program, the Collegiate Network (CN), sponsors and mentors independent newspapers on approximately sixty college campuses.[18] Publications in the CN include the Dartmouth Review and the Stanford Review.[19] ISI provides financial and technical assistance as well as advice to student editors on layout, advertising, fund-raising, and other matters. ISI also runs training conferences where student editors learn directly from professional journalists. These weekend-long training seminars include Start the Presses, for students planning to launch new publications, and the Editors Conference, an annual event for top editors at the CN’s member publications.

ISI also grants its most talented student journalists summer internships and yearlong fellowships that give them their start in the professional media. ISI Collegiate Network fellows and interns work at publications including USA Today, The Hill, National Review, the Dallas Morning News, The American Conservative, First Things, and the Raleigh News and Observer.[20]

The Collegiate Network awards an William F. Buckley Award annual to the writer of the best campus-focused article published in all CN publications that year.[21]

Graduate Fellowships[edit]

ISI awards a number of fellowships to talented graduate students pursuing careers in higher education. ISI graduate fellows receive tuition and/or stipends, along with book allowances. The program includes four fellowships:

  • The Richard M. Weaver Fellowship supports graduate students who intend to teach at the college level and are dedicated to the ideal of liberal education.
  • The Western Civilization Fellowship supports advanced graduate study of the institutions, values, and history of the West.
  • The Salvatori Fellowship is designed for graduate students who are exploring issues related to the American founding.
  • The Bache Renshaw Fellowship goes to doctoral students in education who aim to influence the discipline with the ideas, values, and institutions that are fundamental to America’s Western tradition.[22]


Alumni of ISI and its Collegiate Network student journalism program include:

ISI Books and Publications[edit]

ISI introduces the major disciplines through a series of Student's Guides.

Publications play an important role in ISI’s educational program. ISI’s flagship magazine, the Intercollegiate Review, is sent to student members free of charge twice per year and is maintained as a running blog at ISI also publishes the quarterly journal Modern Age. Until 2012, the semi-annual journal The Political Science Reviewer was published by ISI. It has also published Continuity: A Journal of History.

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute also operates ISI Books, which publishes books on the humanities, the foundations of the American republic, Western civilization, and conservative thought.[23] The Founding Fathers have been highlighted in a series of books, as have a number of modern thinkers. In providing what ISI calls a “classically liberal education” to its member students, ISI Books publishes a series called the Student Guides to the Major Disciplines. These short books, including A Student’s Guide to Liberal Learning and A Student’s Guide to U.S. History, provide a classical introduction into several disciplines.[24]

ISI Books publishes approximately five new titles annually and offers a selection of more than two hundred books.[23] It also offers a discount program called the Readers Club, as well as Kindle Liberty, an e-reader loaded with fifty conservative classics.[25]


  1. ^ a b c About ISI homepage.
  2. ^ Principles ISI homepage.
  3. ^ Intercollegiate Studies GuideStar.
  4. ^ Peele, Gillian (2011). "American Conservatism in Historical Perspective". In Gillian Peele, Joel D. Aberbach. Crisis of Conservatism? The Republican Party, the Conservative Movement, & American Politics After Bush. Oxford University Press. p. 29. 
  5. ^ New Individualist Review
  6. ^ Lee Edwards: Educating for Liberty: The First Half-Century of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute Regnery 2003.
  7. ^ The Canon, spring 2011.]
  8. ^ Intercollegiate Institute, Inc.
  9. ^ Edwin J. Feulner: Introduction to T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr. Introductory speech at ISI 50th Anniversary.
  10. ^ Intercollegiate Studies Institute Charity Navigator.
  11. ^ Charity Navigator Awards ISI Its Seventh Consecutive 4-Star Rating Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  12. ^ Jeb Blackwood: Is there a moral basis for the free-market? Intercollegiate Review, October 23, 2013.
  13. ^ Peter Thiel and George Gilder debate on "The Prospects for Technology and Economic growth ISI at
  14. ^ Eleanor Hildebrandt: Anderson Delivers 'A Case Against Gay Marriage' The Heights, September 27, 2013.
  15. ^ Dante and a Good Life with Esolen at Salve
  16. ^ Intercollegiates Studies Institute Campus Volunteer Guide
  17. ^ Here's an extraordinary opportunity
  18. ^ About Collegiate Network
  19. ^ Member publications
  20. ^ CN Internships & Fellowships
  21. ^ "CN Presents William F. Buckley Jr. Award". The Intercollegiate Studies Institute. 
  22. ^ Do great things
  23. ^ a b Readers Club Subscription
  24. ^ Student Guides to the Major Disciplines
  25. ^ ISI Kindle Liberty

External links[edit]