Kirby Center Mission Statement

Hillsdale College was founded in 1844 to provide “sound learning” in support of “civil and religious liberty and intelligent piety.” The College founded the Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship to extend that mission to Washington, D.C. The practice of constitutionalism requires the moral and intellectual virtues cultivated by liberal education, and in turn cultivates those virtues in those who live under a Constitution. It requires a College devoted to these truths to awaken Washington to them.

 

Hillsdale College
in Washington, D.C.

 

America’s Founders understood that the preservation of freedom would depend on the capacity of the American people to remain faithful to the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They knew equally well that this fidelity would not be easy or automatic. The American experiment in liberty was thus staked upon a certain kind of education—an education aimed at providing citizens the knowledge and character required to govern themselves and defend their God-given rights.

The Kirby Center is dedicated to re-establishing the fundamental conditions of freedom: true civic education in our schools and universities, the practice of self-government within society, and an understanding of enduring principles and their application in our politics.

“I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves,” Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1820. “And if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”

Through teaching the principles and practice of American constitutionalism, the Kirby Center seeks to promote citizenship and statesmanship worthy of the blessings of liberty. To that end, the Center sponsors a variety of programs for students, citizens, and policymakers.