America on Trial: A Weekend Conference for College Students

April 16-18, 2021
Houston, TX

A Student Leadership Conference in Houston

You’ve heard the arguments on your campus, on social media, and in the news: The American Founding is nothing to celebrate.

Many modern criticisms of the Founding have turned into full-fledged attacks on America and its history.  

And the critiques don’t come only from progressives. Some prominent thinkers on the right are also challenging our understanding of the Founding.

How can you thoughtfully respond to these claims? Can you defend the American Founding without whitewashing the past? 

Join like-minded students for an immersive weekend conference exploring the American Founding: its successes and its critics. Over the course of the weekend you will get to learn from some of the most prominent scholars in this field and meet fellow students who may become lifelong friends.

Some of the speakers you will hear from include:

  • Patrick Deneen, whose widely discussed book Why Liberalism Failed has sparked vigorous debate on the right about the merits of the Founding
  • Robert R. Reilly, whose own book America on Trial is a defense of the Founding against critics like Deneen  

This conference will take place in Houston, Texas, April 16–18.


The application deadline for this conference has passed.

Speakers Include

William B. Allen
William B. Allen

William B. Allen is Emeritus Professor of Political Philosophy at Michigan State University’s James Madison College. In 2018–19 he served as the Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at the University of Colorado Boulder. Dr. Allen is currently Chief Operating Officer at the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE). He previously chaired the United States Commission on Civil Rights and served on the National Council for the Humanities. His books include Rethinking Uncle Tom: The Political Philosophy of Harriet Beecher Stowe and George Washington: America’s First Progressive.

Patrick J. Deneen
Patrick J. Deneen

Patrick J. Deneen is the author of the widely discussed book Why Liberalism Failed, which has received praise from the likes of New York Times columnists Ross Douthat and David Brooks, the American Conservative’s Rod Dreher, and former president Barack Obama. Professor Deneen holds the David A. Potenziani Memorial Chair of Constitutional Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He has also taught at Princeton and Georgetown.

Kenneth Grasso
Kenneth Grasso

Kenneth Grasso is professor of political science at Texas State University, where he also chairs the Political Science Department. He specializes in religion and politics, democratic theory, liberal theory, and American constitutionalism. Dr. Grasso has edited or coedited several books, including Theology and Public PhilosophyDefending the Republic, and Rethinking Rights: Historical, Political, and Philosophical Perspectives.

Robert R. Reilly
Robert R. Reilly

Robert R. Reilly is the author of America on Trial: A Defense of the Founding, which was a finalist for ISI’s 2021 Conservative Book of the Year award. Reilly serves as director of the Westminster Institute. In his twenty-five years of government service, he served as special assistant to the president, director of the Voice of America, and senior advisor to the secretary of defense. Reilly has taught at National Defense University. 

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