While our mission is two-fold, the Center’s primary objective is to probe the nature and prospects of liberal democracy and its core principles, practices, and institutions. We promote the investigation of arguments for and against liberal principles and institutions, as well as the study of texts written by exponents and critics of the liberal tradition.

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 balances among 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 relates specifically to the University of Wisconsin. It is to advance intellectual diversity at the University by taking ideas seriously that we believe have not always enjoyed sufficient respect 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.