Center for the American Idea

Center for the American Idea
About Us

The Free Enterprise Institute, a non-profit educational institution founded in 1976, through its American Idea programs, supplements the education of high school teachers on the principles and historical roots of America’s freedom and prosperity, including market economy, limited government, and personal responsibility.  It does this through engaging teachers in a reflection on the great ideas, the great books, and the great persons that together make up the Western tradition and our American cultural heritage.  Our American Idea programs offer teachers, as guardians of our heritage of liberty and virtue, an understanding of the true history of liberty, from Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome, through London and Philadelphia, and to the present day.

The Institute’s interdisciplinary approach to teaching the roots of American ordered liberty affords it the opportunity to bring a wide variety of teachers together from diverse backgrounds into a forum where the pursuit of truth reigns.  Our goal is to offer teachers a well-rounded education, the product of which is, as Mortimer Adler describes, “a good mind, well-disciplined in its processes of inquiring and judging, knowing and understanding, and well furnished with knowledge,” so that they are in a position to awaken, in turn, the moral imagination and seeds of wisdom in their students.  The thousands of teachers who have attended American Idea programs reach hundreds of thousands of students every year.  

Although all men are born free, slavery has been the general lot of the human race. Ignorant – they have been cheated; asleep they have been surprised; divided – the yoke has been forced upon them. But what is the lesson?…the people ought to be enlightened, to be awakened, to be united, that after establishing a government they should watch over it…It is universally admitted that a well-instructed people alone can be permanently free.
-James Madison

Freedom is the exception in world history.  Where freedom reigns among men, a higher law must reign in their hearts.  Our freedom is the fruit of shared history and culture.  Free people must, indeed, be enlightened as to the roots of our institutions and way of life, awakened as to the duties that underlie our rights, and united in our commitment to freedom and the common good.




Board of Trustees

Board of Academic Advisors

Academic Alliance Members

The Center for the American Idea is a program of the Free Enterprise Institute.