What is conservatism? College explores foundations of freedom

What is conservatism? What does it mean to be a conservative?

The founders of modern conservatism, from Russell Kirk and William F. Buckley Jr. to Ronald Reagan, had a well-informed understanding of conservatism. Kirk said that conservatism is less an ideology than it is an attitude. Conservatives believe in the “permanent things,” in an “enduring moral order” based on Biblical and natural law, and in “ordered liberty” anchored in both faith and freedom.

Many contemporary conservatives, however, are not so well-grounded. They can struggle to articulate conservatism’s distinctive ideas in today’s political climate.

Recognizing that challenge, Grove City College – one of the most conservative liberal arts and sciences colleges in the country – sees an opportunity to explore, articulate, and advance the ideas and principles underpinning conservatism.

This coming academic year, The Institute for Faith & Freedom at Grove City College is launching an important new lecture series entitled “The Conservative Mind: A Lecture Series on Understanding Conservatism and the Foundations of Freedom.”

Grove City College is perfectly situated to present such a thought-provoking lecture series, according to Dr. Paul Kengor, a professor of Political Science who serves as senior director and chief academic fellow for the Institute. “We’ve been dubbed the most conservative college in America — the college ‘most nostalgic for Reagan’ and ‘Freedom’s College,’” he said.

The Institute for Faith & Freedom, the College’s conservative think tank, was established in 2005 to advance the foundations of America’s freedom through thought leadership. In addition to its nationally recognized Ronald Reagan Lecture held every year at Grove City College, the Institute presents programs, white papers, and opinion pieces articulating and reinforcing the importance of conservative values. The Institute convenes an annual conference that examines ongoing issues and seeks to provide answers to the question of what it means to be conservative.

“We see the need to take that work a step further, to do a more lasting examination of this question,” Kengor said.

Each semester, the lecture series will welcome leading scholars and opinion leaders to talk about conservative ideas and conservatism. The series is open to all students and the public, will be available on the website, and transcribed for publication in a series of companion volumes.

Speakers for the inaugural season of “The Conservative Mind: A Lecture Series on Understanding Conservatism and the Foundations of Freedom” include:

  • Jonah Goldberg, conservative commentator, podcaster, and author of several books, including “The Suicide of the West” and “Liberal Fascism.” Goldberg is a fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, a senior fellow at the National Review Institutec, and longtime contributor to the National Review’s magazine and website. Goldberg writes a column for the Los Angeles Times and serves as editor in chief of The Dispatch. He will speak on campus at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18 in the Morledge Great Room of Rathburn Hall on campus.The lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Register here: faithandfreedom.com/goldberg.
  • Dr. Joseph Loconte, historian, author, and Distinguished Visiting Professor and Senior Research Fellow at The Institute for Faith &Freedom. Loconte is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington, D.C., and the author of the New York Times bestseller “A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918.” He is working on a forthcoming documentary film based on the book. Loconte will speak in the spring.

“This series will be a wonderful learning opportunity for anyone seeking to understand the conservative mind. This is a subject that The Institute for Faith & Freedom and Grove City College are uniquely positioned to tackle,” Kengor noted.

A full schedule of speakers and lecture times will be announced later by The Institute for Faith & Freedom at faithandfreedom.com.

What is conservatism? College explores foundations of freedom

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