The University of Texas at Austin - Civitas Institute


What is the Civitas Institute?

The Civitas Institute is a community of scholars committed to exploring the ideas and institutions that sustain a free society and enable individuals to flourish. We value independent thought, civil discourse, free speech, reasoned deliberation and intellectual curiosity. Our programs facilitate inquiry into the foundational principles of a free and enduring society: individual rights and civic virtue, constitutionalism and the rule of law, and free enterprise and markets.

Why “Civitas”?

Civitas takes its name from The University of Texas at Austin motto, Disciplina Praesidium Civitatis, a condensed Latin rendering of Mirabeau Lamar’s famous phrase that a “cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy.”

The seal of The University of Texas at Austin sets this motto against a blue background, emphasizing the importance of sincerity to the academic enterprise. An open book in the top field of its heraldic shield symbolizes the study of the past — its accumulated wisdom and lessons — which is the discipline necessary to sustain free and flourishing societies in the future.

After he designed this seal, Professor William Battle described the motto as “at once the justification of the University’s existence and the ideal of its future.”