The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) is pleased to announce that it will offer two courses for the spring semester, 2024. All AHI courses are free and open to the public.

Course #1: Dr. David Frisk will lead both a Zoom and in-person course, “An Introduction to Conservative Thought.”

Course #2: Former Pentagon speech writer Lauren Weiner will lead a second course, “Israel’s Battle for Survival,” using Zoom.

Course #1: “An Introduction to Conservative Thought” — David Frisk, Ph.D., instructor

Dr. Frisk’s online course will meet Monday evenings by zoom from February 5 through May 6, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Eastern time.

Dr. Frisk’s in-person course will meet on Wednesday evenings at AHI headquarters, 21 W. Park Row, Clinton, NY, from February 7 through May 8, at 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., Eastern Time, in the Presidential Room at AHI headquarters.

 Advance signup is requested. To sign up, contact Dr. Frisk at: or 202-999-5751 (c). For more information, please contact Dr. Frisk.

This course on conservative political and social thought will cover mostly, but not only, American conservative thought. A substantial amount of conservative thought is British and continental European, and the class will give some attention to that as well.

Readings will be primarily from the intellectual historian and thinker Russell Kirk’s classic work The Conservative Mind (1953). Course members are asked to buy a printed copy.  Should you not be able to afford a copy, AHI will purchase it for you.  A paperback version of the book is available for purchase on Amazon. In addition, a moderate amount of reading by other authors, including some influential conservative thinkers, will be assigned and provided. Total reading will be 25 to 30 pages per week.

Each session will begin with a short lecture by the instructor. Discussion on the week’s readings and topic, or topics, will follow. We take a 5- to 10-minute break, and refreshments are provided for the in-person group.

The instructor, AHI Resident Fellow Dr. David Frisk, has taught a wide variety of adult classes in political science, history, and political thought at the AHI for the past decade. He holds a doctorate in political science (specialties: American politics and political philosophy) from Claremont Graduate University.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed book If Not Us, Who?: William Rusher, National Review, and the Conservative Movement (2014). Dr. Frisk describes the course further:

“People who were in some of the AHI’s classes in recent years — including those on “The Federalist Papers,” Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Richard Hofstadter’s The American Political Tradition, “Roots of the Red/Blue Divide,” “Liberty: The History of an Idea,” and “Majority Rule and Equality: The Challenges of Democracy in American History” — may find they have especially good preparation for parts of this course. But no special background is needed to get a lot out of it!

We will emphasize philosophy, not politics — but philosophy that is more real-world than what is usually called “philosophy.” We will examine political and social thought about how, according to conservative thinkers, society — including “political man,” or citizenship — works and should work.

Our class will not deal primarily with political conflicts in American history or today. It also won’t heavily emphasize individual liberty, small government, or free-market economic policy — in short, classical liberalism. These overlap with philosophical conservatism and therefore will get some attention — but aren’t at all identical with it and can conflict significantly with it.

This class will not be a forum for debating recent politics. But class members will learn both why real conservatism has been politically rather weak in America, and why what is (semi-accurately) called conservative politics has, nonetheless, often had significant success in the U.S. — due to the ways in which many Americans are conservative.”

Course #2: “Israel’s Battle for Survival”

The group will meet Thursday nights online via zoom for 12 weekly sessions, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time, beginning on February 15th and continuing to May 9th. There will be no class March 7. To sign up or for additional information, please contact Lauren Weiner at: Advanced sign-up is strongly encouraged.

“Israel has the chance to prove itself for what it really is: the outpost of the fight against terrorism and the defense of democracy.” These words, written in 2003 by the Italian-Israeli journalist Fiamma Nirenstein, press upon us urgently in the wake of the Hamas massacre of October 7, 2023.

This course will be devoted to brief texts by Nirenstein and other journalists, as well as statesmen and academics, that will give us a sense of what’s at stake in Israel’s war against Hamas—for the Jewish people and for Western civilization. Our historical/political frame will take in the founding of the Jewish State and the broad question of religious freedom, including in the United States of America, Israel’s most important ally. Among our authors: George Washington, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Natan Sharansky, Amos Oz, Edward Said, Judith Butler, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Ruth Wisse, Robert S. Wistrich, and more.

Discussion leader Lauren Weiner spent time in Israel. Her life has taken her to jobs as an editor, reporter, Capitol Hill staffer, and Pentagon speechwriter. She penned literary reviews as well, and these have appeared in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Claremont Review of Books, the Weekly Standard,, the New Criterion, the Washington Times, and the Baltimore Sun.