Who We Are
Kirk on Campus, a project of the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, celebrates and defends the permanent things at America’s colleges and universities. A unique source of cultural conservative thought, Kirk on Campus fills a critical niche in the national conversation about the meaning of America, the West, and the conservative tradition.
Strengthening the Foundations of Western Civilization
For more than twenty years, the Kirk Center has enjoyed a national and international reputation as a haven of higher learning, linking together generations past and present in an educational journey to discover and nourish the roots of America’s political, economic, and religious heritage. Civilization can only thrive, Edmund Burke once wrote, as a partnership of “those living, those who are dead, and those who are yet to be born.” The Kirk Center is first and foremost engaged in conserving—and at times reforming—a living tradition. Civilizational memory and community can together foster the kind of continuity in beliefs, practices, and institutions necessary if a culture is to foster authentic human flourishing.
Kirk on Campus will bring scholars unashamed but not uncritical of the great legacy of America and the West to schools across Michigan and its neighboring region. In doing so it will help contribute to a greater variety of thought and informed opinion, as well as to cultivate much-need civilized discourse.
Russell Kirk on Campus and Viewpoint Diversity
Russell Kirk was not just counted among America’s leading thinkers, as described by both Time and Newsweek, he was one of the most popular campus speakers of the past half-century. Kirk was a campus missionary, taking the living tradition of American conservatism to more than 400 colleges.
In an age not noted for being particularly welcome to conservative ideas in the college classroom, Kirk challenged consensus liberalism in some of the most high-profile college debates of his generation. He debated socialists such as Michael Harrington and Norman Thomas; liberals such as Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, Carey McWilliams, and Arthur M. Schlesinger; libertarians such as F. A. Hayek, Karl Hess, and Ayn Rand; radical activists such as Dick Gregory, Tom Hayden, and William Kunstler; and political organizers and human rights activists such as Saul Alinsky and Malcolm X.
The Kirk on Campus initiative takes for its inspiration this remarkable legacy of genuine conservative educational engagement. Surely the tide of conservatism that rushed onto the shores of the American political scene in the 1980s was in no small measure due to Russell Kirk’s energetic efforts to introduce young conservatives of his era to the timeless tradition of American conservative thought–sometimes seemly against all odds.That challenge remains for the current generation.
Fortunately, we have for guidance today Dr. Kirk’s written legacy of more than thirty books, hundreds of essays, and his syndicated columns. But it is his on campus witness that inspires the Kirk on Campus program.
Kirk made the American conservative tradition and our inheritance of first principles respectable on campus. He pointed to a conservatism of cultural continuity as a much-needed alternative to ideologues on the Left and Right who reject the American tradition and regularly subvert its institutions and norms. In so doing he contributed to the renewal of American education by increasing what we now call “viewpoint diversity.”
That voice is needed on our fractured campuses as much now as it was in his time. Noted scholars and public intellectuals will be engaged by the Center to explore dimensions of conservatism and American liberty seldom considered in the classroom. In so doing, Kirk on Campus events and programs will contribute to the increase in viewpoint diversity and political depolarization by reclaiming American conservatism from the forces of radical ideology and presenting it afresh for today’s college students.
HAVE A QUESTION?
Get in Touch with Kirk on Campus
Follow us on social media