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The John W. Pope Lecture Series

The John W. Pope Foundation hosts Clemson's largest and most important lecture series. Held once per semester, each lecture is free and open to the public. Lectures in the past have focused on topics in political science and economics.

Past Pope Lectures

Is Western Civilization Worth Saving?

Western Civilization has been under attack on America's college campuses in recent years. Two of America's most thoughtful public intellectuals, Andrew Sullivan and Yaron Brook, engage in a robust discussion on the virtues and vices of Western Civilization. They discuss what is worth preserving in the Occident and what should be reformed. Andrew Sullivan is an author, blogger and contributing editor at New York magazine. Yaron Brook is the host of the Yaron Brook Show and former executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.

The Postmodern Critique of Liberal Education: Philosophy and the Purpose of the University (Fall 2019)

The politicized battles over education are mostly not about politics but about philosophy. Policy battles are heated not only because the practical stakes are high but because they affirm or deny entire philosophies of life. In his talk, Dr. Stephen Hicks, Professor of Philosophy, Rockford University and Executive Director, Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship, pits postmodern against Enlightenment philosophy to highlight why and how liberal education is now subject to strong critique and institutional abandonment.

A Talk by James Piereson (Spring 2019)

The year 1968 included two major assassinations, violent protests in big cities, upheavals on college campuses and a riot at the Democratic National Convention all while an unpopular war was raging in Vietnam. In this tumultuous atmosphere, the country saw clear divisions between liberal and conservative culture.

Fifty years later, Dr. James Piereson, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, reflects on this division to explain the unexpected outcome of our country's most recent presidential election.

The Long March: How The Cultural Revolution of the 1960s Changed America (Fall 2018)

Roger Kimball is an American art critic and social commentator. He is the editor and publisher of "The New Criterion" and the publisher of Encounter Books. Kimball first gained prominence in the early 1990's with the publication of his book, "Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Higher Education."

Capitalism vs. Socialism: Which is the Moral System? By Dr. Yaron Brook (Spring 2018)

Yaron Brook is chairman of the board of the Ayn Rand Institute. Dr. Brook can be heard weekly on The Yaron Brook Show, which airs live on the BlogTalkRadio podcast. He is the co-author of several books and has had his articles published in the Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily and USA Today.

The Death of Free Speech? By Dave Rubin, Onkar Ghate and Jordan Peterson (Fall 2017)

Free speech is under assault on America's college campuses. Increasingly, college campuses are being defined by censorship, indoctrination, political correctness and violence. Can anything be done to stop the assault on free speech?

Socialism: A Century Of Death And Destruction by Richard Ebeling (Spring 2017)

Dr. Richard Ebeling reviews the history of socialist revolutions, revolutions that were hailed as the wave of the future, bringing freedom, prosperity, equality and peace to humanity. Yet the actual result of socialism-in-practice was mass murder, economic stagnation and poverty, and brutal political tyrannies. Why did the dream of a "better world" become a hell-on-earth, and what lessons does it offer us for our own times?

The Betrayal of Liberty on America's Campuses (Spring 2016)

Co-founder of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and Professor at the University of Pennsylvania Alan Charles Kors spoke about how universities once believed themselves to be sacred enclaves where students and professors could debate the issues of the day and arrive at a better understanding of the human condition. Today, sadly, this ideal of the university is being quietly betrayed from within. Universities still set themselves apart from American society, but now they do so by enforcing their own politically correct worldview through censorship, double standards and a judicial system without due process. Faculty and students who threaten the prevailing norms may be forced to undergo "thought reform." In a surreptitious about-face, universities have become the enemy of a free society, and the time has come to hold these institutions to account.

Photo of George F. Will

America's Great Debate: James Madison vs. Woodrow Wilson By George F. Will (Fall 2015)

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George F. Will is one of our most widely read political writers. His popular twice-weekly column for The Washington Post syndicate reaches nearly 475 newspapers throughout the United States and Europe. Mr. Will has provided the following description for his talk: "American political thought can be understood as an argument between two Princetonians - James Madison and Woodrow Wilson. Madison represents the natural rights, limited government tradition. Wilson represents the progressive rejection of that tradition, a rejection rooted in the idea of a 'living Constitution' that imposes negligible inhibitions on government, and especially executive, power." Thank you to all our attendees for this event. We had about 700 people in the audience, who gave Mr. Will several standing ovations.

Is ObamaCare Constitutional? A debate with Steve Simpson and Neil Siegel (Spring 2015)

Steve Simpson of the Ayn Rand Institute and Neil Siegel of Duke University School of Law debate the constitutionality of perhaps the single most important and controversial law passed in the last 50 years, President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

"Bootleggers and Baptists" by Dr. Bruce Yandle (Fall 2014)

Bruce Yandle, Dean Emeritus of the Clemson College of Business, spoke about how policy analysts, academics and journalists lament the influence of money on politics. But in the political economy, politicians often carefully design regulations so that two very different interest groups will be satisfied: the "bootleggers" who seek to obtain private benefits from the regulation and the "Baptists" who seek to serve the public interest. This talk was based on Dr. Yandle's book titled, "Bootleggers and Baptists in the Garden of Good and Evil: Explaining America's Regulatory Journey."

Champion of the Market: The Life and Ideas of F.A. Hayek (Spring 2014)

Professor Bruce Caldwell, one of the world's leading Hayek scholars and general editor of the Collected Works of F.A. Hayek, presented a lecture on the life and ideas of the Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek.

Was Jesus A Socialist? Robert P. George and Ron Sider Debate (Fall 2013)

Distinguished scholars Robert P. George, Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, and Ron Sider, Professor of Theology at the Palmer Theological Seminary, held a high-minded conversation on economics and religion.

The Seven Principles of Economic Freedom by Lawrence Reed (Spring 2013)

Economic freedom is what makes our modern way of life and standard of living possible. Drawing on real-life stories from dozens of countries, Lawrence Reed will lay out seven fundamental principles that have transformed poverty into prosperity around the world.

The Free Market Revolution by Dr. Yaron Brook (Fall 2012)

Yaron Brook offers a strident defense of laissez-faire capitalism and the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Dr. Brook calls for a Free Market Revolution in the way people think about markets and about the central activity that defines market activity: the pursuit of profit. Brook argues that Rand's philosophy of rational self-interest holds the solution to America's political and economic ills, including the debt crisis, looming inflation and the swelling entitlement state.

The Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen (Fall 2011)

America has been through the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, unemployment numbers are frightening, median wages have been flat since the 1970's and it is common to expect that things will get worse before they get better. Certainly, the multi-decade stagnation is not yet over. How will we get out of this mess?

As Tyler Cowen argues, our economy has enjoyed low-hanging fruit since the seventeenth century: free land, immigrant labor and powerful new technologies. But during the last forty years, the low-hanging fruit started disappearing, and we started pretending it was still there. Cowen reveals the underlying causes of our past prosperity and how we will generate it again. This is a passionate call for a new respect of scientific innovations that benefit not only the powerful elites but humanity as a whole.

Socialism's Legacy by Alan Charles Kors (Spring 2011)

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, many optimists claimed that the world was now somehow "after socialism." There are reasons, however - structural, political, moral and intellectual - why the collapse of Communism did not entail the end of socialism. This talk by Alan Kors explained why there can be no "after socialism" until the West comes to ultimate terms with the catastrophic legacy of international communism.

The Higher Education Bubble and What Comes Next by Glenn Reynolds (Fall 2010)

Over the past few decades, college and graduate tuition has climbed much faster than the rate of inflation and the growth of household income, with the difference being made up by debt taken on by students who assumed they'd have no trouble paying it off after graduation. Now students are graduating with big debts, but no jobs. This process can't go on forever. What happens when it stops?

Glenn Reynolds is the Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee. The author most recently of "An Army of Davids: How Markets And Technology Empower Ordinary People To Beat Big Media, Big Government, And Other Goliaths," Reynolds is also a Contributing Editor at Popular Mechanics, a columnist at the Washington Examiner, and the host of "InstaVision" on PJTV.

The Right Kind of Rules: What Washington Can Learn from Twitter by Virginia Postrel (Spring 2010)

Virginia Postrel, author of "The Future and Its Enemies" and "The Substance of Style," delivered the John W. Pope Foundation lecture on February 24th, 2010. The title of the lecture was "The Right Kind of Rules: What Washington Can Learn from Twitter."

Leadership and Values by John Allison (Fall 2009)

John A. Allison, IV, chairman and former CEO of BB&T Corp., delivered the Fall 2009 John W. Pope Lecture.

Allison's lecture addressed the genesis and implementation of his BB&T Values program at the company. He explored how today's confusion about values has led to poor leadership and how an integrated vision of values can help develop better leaders as well as serve as a practical means to achieve success and happiness.

The Moral and Economic Foundations of Capitalism by Richard Epstein (Spring 2008)

World-renowned University of Chicago law professor, Richard A. Epstein, delivered the Spring 2008 lecture in the John W. Pope Lecture Series.