The University of Texas at Austin - Civitas Institute


Truth Shall Set You Free engraved into the University of Texas Main Building.


We prepare civic-minded leaders through the study of the ideas and institutions that sustain a free society

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.

Political polarization and the decline of civility, rational inquiry, and good-faith dialogue weaken our society and threaten our institutions. Knowledge of the historical, philosophical, moral, and economic foundations of a free society is needed now more than ever, and universities have a crucial role to play in preserving and improving our democracy for the next generation.

Civic education has long been part of the core mission of public higher education, and it is a central aspect of liberal education. From the Latin root liber, meaning free, a liberal education is an education in and for freedom. The Civitas Institute carries this vision forward by promoting a truly liberal civic education, one that liberates from prejudice and parochialism, making one free to form and exercise reasoned judgment and engage in society to improve our world.

Liberal education is at once a liberating education and a quest for wisdom about how to live well. Such a liberating education is indispensable for future civic leaders, who are the custodians of the American polity, and it rests on open inquiry, reasoned debate, civil discussion, and freedom of thought and speech. In these challenging times for American higher education and for the American polity, revitalizing liberal and civic education is a critical endeavor.

Will you join us?