Religion & Liberty Online

Acton University and building the free society

Last week well over 1000 people flocked to Grand Rapids to listen to more than 80 inspiring faculty members lecture on a wide variety of topics touching on liberty, faith, and free-market economics. This is the 13th renewal of Acton University, Acton’s yearly four-day conference exploring the intellectual foundations of a free society. AU is all about “building the foundations of freedom,” by bringing together leaders in business, ministry, and development, as well as students, professors, entrepreneurs, and members of the media.

Alejandro Chafuen, one of Acton’s current managing directors, was at Grove City College in October to accept the Grove City College Alumni Association’s Jack Kennedy Memorial Alumni Achievement Award for his substantial work in advancing the cause and research of liberty.  As the GēDUNK put it, Chafuen and other GCC alumni seek to “build the political and intellectual infrastructure that [makes] it possible to provide voters and policy makers the means to restore the nation’s compromised principles.”

Building the political and intellectual infrastructure is the same work that Chafuen continues here at the Acton Institute; Acton University is one strong example. For four days, hundreds of people from all around the world gathered to learn and to commune with others who share their values of faith and liberty. As any retreat leader can attest, much of the fervor and excitement from being on retreat inevitably dies down when normal life returns—some people refer to this as “retreat high” or “a mountain-top experience.” While the excitement is still running high as attendees and faculty return home from our summit at DeVos Place, it seems an appropriate time to reflect on the infrastructure that we have built for liberty. Where might cracks still lie in that infrastructure?  Who are we reaching and who are we not?  Is our message coming through less strongly in some places than others?  What can we do to change that?

Alejandro Chafuen, while on the same trip to GCC in October, also addressed current students about the disproportionately vast impact that a small institution such as Grove City has on the wider liberty movement. It’s about the people, Chafuen concluded, the people who, like himself, commit themselves to “contributing to freedom…until the day I die.” Acton University 2018 is over, but the work continues.