HBU Initiative to Teach Civic Education Receives Major Support

Houston Baptist University’s Center for Law and Liberty received a $600,000 grant from the Charles Koch foundation and Sherry Smith and Jim R. Smith to greatly expand its programmatic offerings.  The Center is dedicated to promoting the principles of liberty, limited government, the rule of law, and free markets. With this gift, it will be able to offer more programs to our students, the HBU community, and the public.

“I am excited to partner with the Charles Koch Foundation and Houston Baptist University in its expansion of the Center for Law and Liberty,” said Jim Smith, longtime friend and Advisory Trustee. “The principles of liberty and free markets are the most powerful concepts mankind has ever embraced to eliminate poverty, enhance prosperity, and enable the pursuit of happiness. We’re proud to support this effort to educate the next generation about free market principles and the values associated with our nation’s founding.”

The gift will allow the Center to build on curriculum initiatives that were started in 2013 under the leadership of Dr. Chris Hammons, professor of government and Director of the Center for Law and Liberty. Faculty affiliated with the Center engage HBU students and Houston-area educators in a conversation about how best to improve the human condition. Three primary questions are explored: What is the purpose of government? What is liberty? How do we improve the human condition? The Center offers extracurricular activities such as a reading group focusing on classical texts and current issues, workshops for teachers exploring great ideas and events in Western Civilization, and an interdisciplinary campus lecture series that explores the human condition from the perspectives of literature, art, history, philosophy and other disciplines. The Center also works closely with the University’s Legal Studies and Government programs and with HBU’s award-winning Mock Trial team.

“We are excited to be able to build on our efforts to promote constitutionalism, the principles of the American republic, and the values that stood at the core of the American founding,” said Dr. Robert Sloan, President of Houston Baptist University “We are thankful for the support of Sherry and Jim Smith and the Charles Koch Foundation, which will help the center achieve its vision to transform lives through education.”

As part of the grant, the Center for Law and Liberty will induct its initial class of Smith Scholars -named after economist and political philosopher Adam Smith – in the fall of 2017. A group of ten students will each be paired with a faculty member who will help the student with a year-long research project on a topic of mutual interest. The student will present a final paper during a University-wide scholarship symposium at the end of the year.

“The grant will allow us to reach more students and bring them into this important conversation about the principles of liberty, limited government, the rule of law, and free markets,” said Dr. Hammons. “I’m excited that this will create a really unique educational opportunity for students from a variety of backgrounds who can take what they learn here at HBU back to their homes and communities. Our goal is not just to educate, but also to transform lives.”