The Center’s primary mission is to probe the nature and prospects of liberal democracy and its core principles, practices, and institutions. Broadly speaking, we ask questions like: What is the appropriate relationship between state power and private citizens? By what objective principles should we measure both state and individual decisions? How might the institutions of our constitutional republic best encourage free and responsible citizenship?
Promote an Understanding of Liberal Democracy
The first mission is to promote appreciation and critical understanding of the cardinal principles and institutions of liberal democracy, including, but not limited to constitutionalism and rule of law; the meaning and scope of freedom and free markets in a democratic order; the place and role of religion in liberal democracies; the relationship between liberty and equality; the balance between security, liberty, and privacy in a dangerous world; the role of the military in a free society; education and the state; and competition between liberal democracy and competing ideologies, including various forms of autocracy and new political religions.
Advance Intellectual Diversity
The second mission seeks to advance intellectual diversity at the University of Wisconsin–Madison by encouraging wide-ranging civil discourse and taking ideas seriously that we believe are not afforded sufficient consideration on campus. Such ideas include the various strands of conservative political thought and libertarian thought, in addition to thought addressing religious liberty, foreign policy, and the role of the military in American society and on campus. At the same time, our belief in the pedagogical benefits of intellectual diversity means that we also support critical challenges to the assumptions underlying these ideas. We aspire to be a model of intellectual diversity in action for the University of Wisconsin–Madison.