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In the Acton Institute’s grant programs, ‘iron sharpens iron.’ Apply now

Ideas are inherently social. Teaching and learning, talking and listening, and all forms of salutary social change are cooperative. As the prophets teach, “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?” (Amos 3:3) The Acton Institute’s mission “to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles” naturally extends beyond itself. As such, the Acton Institute seeks to equip and empower others who share its mission.

One of the ways it does this is through its academic grants and awards.

In many corners of the world, there is a growing distrust and suspicion of economics, profit, limited government, rule of law, and free markets. There is a need to redeem these concepts by relating them to theology, human dignity, and the principles of a free and virtuous society.

To encourage such developments, the Acton Institute’s academic grants and awards programs support future religious, intellectual, and moral leaders who show the potential to help others understand these relationships.

The Calihan Academic Grants provide financial assistance to graduate students and seminarians currently studying theology, philosophy, economics, or related fields whose academic work demonstrates excellence. These are students of the free and virtuous society whom we seek to help grow in the knowledge and understanding of the cultural and institutional frameworks necessary for human flourishing.

The Novak Award – which honors the life, work, and legacy of Michael Novak – is given annually to current doctoral candidates and recent graduates of Ph.D. programs. It recognizes scholars early in their academic career who exhibit outstanding intellectual merit in advancing the understanding of theology’s connection to human dignity, the importance of the rule of law, limited government, religious liberty, and freedom in economic life. These are the students who have contributed to our understanding of the free and virtuous society.

Each year the recipient of the Novak Award presents his or her research to the public in the form of the Calihan Lecture. Last year’s winner, Gregory M. Collins, spoke this January on Aristotle, Edmund Burke, F.A. Hayek, and the role of economics in the social order:

While the Acton Institute is a place of teaching and learning for scholars, clergy, professionals, and the general public, much of this essential education occurs in the formal settings of colleges, universities, and seminaries.

The purpose of this mini-grant program is to enhance the effectiveness of the teaching and research of market economics by faculty at colleges, universities, and seminaries across the United States and Canada. The Acton Institute invites proposals from faculty in one or more of the following broad categories: course development and faculty research. Winners of the 2020 Mini-Grants on Free Market Economics were assisted in bringing about the exploration of the free and virtuous society in their own institutions and classrooms.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). The difficult work of building the free and virtuous society is one that must be taken up by many hands in many places. Applications for the Calihan Academic Grants, the Novak Award, and the mini-grant program are now open to those who wish to share in this work.

Dan Hugger

Dan Hugger is Librarian and Research Associate at the Acton Institute.