Liberty Fund, founded in 1960 by Pierre F. Goodrich, an Indianapolis lawyer and entrepreneur, ranks as one of the world’s preeminent educational non-profit organizations. It holds annually dozens of colloquia around the world, bringing together intelligent persons from all walks of life to undertake civil and intensive conversations on a set of prescribed readings related in some way to the idea of liberty.  Fellows of the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) have had the distinct honor of being invited frequently to participate in Liberty Fund colloquia.  On March 9, AHI Senior Fellow Lee Cheek and AHI Executive Director Robert Paquette traveled to the Conrad Hotel, Indianapolis, Indiana, for a three-day conversation on “Calling and the Professions in the Free Society.”

Directed by Matthew Myer Boulton of the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis and Richard B. Gunderman, Indiana University School of Medicine, the conference explored six themes: “The Experience of Calling,” “Consequences of the Calling,” Discovering One’s Calling,” “Nature of a Calling,” “Professional Calling,” and “Recovery of Professional Calling.”  Readings included the book of “Exodus, Plato’s Apology, St. Augustine’s Confessions, Max Weber’s Vocation Lectures, and Josef Pieper’s Leisure:  The Basis of Culture.

“Participating in this great conference,” observed Dr. Cheek, Dean of Social Sciences and Professor of Political Science, East Georgia State College, “allowed me to have a greater appreciation for how others are struggling to understand and respond to the inability of the modern academy to promote humane learning in a comprehensive manner.  True learning must include contemplation and active engagement with the great works that have informed our understanding, especially in the humanities and the social sciences.  In many regards, the conference was a strong affirmation of the work of the Alexander Hamilton Institute and our mission to explore the ‘marketplace of ideas.’  The conference provided an opportunity to reconsider the calling of teaching and its vital role in shaping the calling of undergraduates.”

“During my thirty-six year academic career,” Paquette added, “Liberty Fund colloquia stood out as an oasis in an academic desert.  Once the barbarians succeeded in making knowledge congruent with ideology, then it was but a small step from there to insist that there was no need to converse with others. One merely had to dismiss them, marginalize them, or threaten them into silence.  Liberty Fund Senior Fellow Steve Ealy, a dear friend of the AHI, once again deserves congratulations for helping to put together a superb event with an impressive array of truly diverse talent:  in medicine, business, theology, law as well as in history, philosophy, and political science.”