Free-market group gives to Political Theory

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Brown’s Political Theory Project was awarded a $10,000 prize last week by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, a free-market think tank.

The Political Theory Project will receive Atlas’s 2008 Templeton Freedom Award for Special Achievement by a University-Based Center, which includes the prize money.

The Atlas Economic Research Foundation is dedicated to the belief that its “vision of a free society can be achieved through respect for private property rights, limited government under the rule of law, and the market order,” according to its Web site.

The Political Theory Project was founded by Associate Professor of Political Science John Tomasi in 2003. According to its Web site, the project, whose mission is to “invigorate the study of institutions and ideas that make societies free, prosperous, and fair,” offers undergraduate courses, hosts academic conferences, supports research, secures resources and funding for graduate work and hosts a lecture series through the student-run Janus Forum.

According to Dina Egge, program manager for the political science department, Tomasi was notified of the award via e-mail on Oct. 3. Atlas announced the award winners on Oct. 20.

Egge said that the $10,000 will be used to finance a variety of programs. Primarily, though, it will go towards funding the Janus Forum, which promotes political discussion on campus. She said that programs such as its lecture series and the forum’s newly formed Brown Political Union will benefit from funding, as will smaller events like its presidential debate-watching parties.

“The broad impact will be for all undergraduate students who participate in Janus activities,” Egge said.

Both the Political Theory Project and the Janus Forum are nonpartisan – the project’s Web site affirms that it is not committed “to any particular ideological orientation” and draws upon ideas from across the political spectrum.

Anish Mitra ’10, the current College Republicans representative to the Janus Forum and a Herald columnist, said that the Political Theory Project’s intellectual approach is beginning to “change the general way of thinking,” and noted recent efforts to establish a single concentration in philosophy, politics and economics.

Sixteen think tanks received Templeton Freedom Awards this year, according to the foundation’s Web site. Awards were distributed among eight categories, each with two winning institutions – one that is older than eight years and considered an “established institute” and one that is not and is considered an “emerging institute.” The Political Theory Project, an “emerging institute,” won in the same category as George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.