The University of Texas at Austin - Civitas Institute

Summer Honors Symposium

The Civitas Institute at the University of Texas at Austin is a community whose members study the foundations of the American constitutional republic to advance human flourishing in a free society. We form thoughtful leaders through a civic education that prizes careful study of the American story as well as wisdom for how to live a good life. While political polarization threatens American civic life, at Civitas we advance the virtues of civil discourse. We organize our work around the three pillars of the American political tradition: liberty, constitutionalism, and property. We value reasoned deliberation, intellectual curiosity, and free speech.

Highlights from our inaugural Summer Honors Symposium


The Civitas Institute at the University of Texas at Austin invites undergraduate students to consider applying for the Civitas Summer Honors Symposium 2024. The event will take place at a secluded luxury resort in Dripping Springs, TX, on August 9 – 12. All expenses will be covered by the Civitas Institute.  

The Summer Honors Symposium brings together a community of students and scholars to discuss a theme relevant to the political, ethical, or economic dimension of human liberty. The theme of our next symposium is expressed by its title: The Theory and Practice of Happiness. During three leisurely days in early summer, our student fellows will discuss readings on happiness as seen from the point of view of philosophy and public policy.   

They will begin with Aristotle, who famously defined happiness as the activity of soul in accord with virtue. Moving from classical to modern thought, our fellows will study Montaigne, who counseled moderation through variation, as opposed to focusing on any one human good, as the key to leading a happy, fulfilling life. Fellows will cap off their philosophical readings with Tocqueville, who analyzed the restlessness of soul that so characterized American democracy, and democracy as such, for both good and ill.  

Tocqueville, who was consistently practical in this thinking, will rightly serve as a bridge to the symposium’s next set of readings and discussions: happiness as seen from the point of view of public policy. Community and individualism, dynamism and stagnation, as well as the current state and prospects of social capital in the United States, will be the primary but by no means only topics covered in this portion of the symposium. Guided by some of the best scholars in their field, our fellows will explore these topics by reading selections from the works, among others, of Wilhelm Röpke, Robert Nisbet, and Robert Putnam. 

Application Dates and Requirements 

Applications for the Summer Honors Symposium are now open.  Apply here.

Admission decisions will be made on a rolling basis until the symposium cohort has been selected. Spots are limited and typically fill by end of February.  

You must be an undergraduate student with a GPA of at least 3.5 at the time of your application.  

Graduating seniors may apply.  

Students who applied to last year’s Summer Honors Symposium may reapply to the program this year. 

Students may apply to both the Summer Honors Symposium and the Society of Fellows. 

Please address inquiries to:

Antonio Sosa 
Associate Director 
Civitas Institute 
University of Texas at Austin 

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement 

The University of Texas at Austin, as an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, complies with all applicable federal and state laws regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action. The University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions.