Who We Are

We inspire students and professors to engage with the ideas of freedom. We support them in advancing the principles and practice of freedom in their careers. We connect them to a community of individuals committed to the power of freedom and of ideas. 

Our Mission

The mission of IHS is to support the achievement of a freer society by discovering and facilitating the development of talented students, scholars, and other intellectuals who share an interest in liberty and in advancing the principles and practice of freedom.

What We Do

We inspire students and professors to engage with the ideas of freedom. We support them in advancing the principles and practice of freedom in their careers, and we connect them to a community of individuals committed to the power of freedom and of ideas. Here’s how:

  • We inspire and educate college students through intensive summer seminars, weekend events, on-campus programs, and Learn Liberty online videos and seminars.
  • We connect students and recent graduates to intellectual and career opportunities.
  • We support future professors. Each year, IHS awards more than $1 million in scholarships to hundreds of students from around the world. In addition, we offer an integrated suite of academic career programs including individualized mentoring, research grants, career-development seminars, online resources, and placement support.
  • We facilitate the impact of professors across and beyond campus, partnering with faculty to run programs on their campus and connecting scholars to opportunities to impact policy debates.
  • We partner with allies and supporters to advance freedom.

Our History

The Institute for Humane Studies was founded in 1961 by Dr. F. A. “Baldy” Harper, a former economics professor at Cornell University. Part of a generation that lived through two devastating world wars and saw the rise of numerous totalitarian dictatorships, Harper set up an institute devoted to research and education with the conviction that a greater understanding of human affairs and freedom would foster peace, prosperity, and social harmony.

History has demonstrated the great capacity of humans to solve problems through “the practice and potentials of freedom,” and Harper envisioned this as the primary focus of the Institute for Humane Studies. “Not in government or force, not in slavery or war, but in the creative, and thereby spiritual, power of freedom, shall our inspiration be found,” he wrote in an early proposal for the Institute.

Based for many years in Menlo Park, California, IHS moved to Fairfax, Virginia, in 1985 and associated with George Mason University. At George Mason, IHS has been able to pursue its mission more effectively in cooperation with other organizations affiliated with the university.

Our Values

At IHS, we believe in the power of freedom and of ideas to create a better future—a future in which individuals are better able to unleash their unique potential and help create a more just, peaceful, and thriving world. That future will be created by intelligent and motivated people who are dedicated to the principles of a free society.

The team at IHS is united by advancing the mission of IHS and by a culture dedicated to lifelong learning and responsible action. Our values drive the personal and professional fulfillment of all team members and guide our daily decisions and efforts.

We Are Curious.

We value ideas and cherish the intellect. We strive for learning and growth and look to multiple sources of learning, internally and externally. Because we are curious, we value opposing views and welcome both challenges and the challenger alike. We understand that we never have “the answer” ourselves, and that humility and mutual respect are the key to our personal success and the success of our mission.

We Are Accountable.

We commit to and measure results. We are solutions-oriented. We learn from failure, celebrate success, and take ownership of both. Because we are accountable, we commit ourselves to the pursuit of continuous progress, and we are conscientious stewards of the trust and resources invested in us.

We Are Responsible.

We insist on personal integrity, lawful behavior, and open, honest communication at every level at IHS and with those we engage externally. We succeed by sharing knowledge, behaving ethically, and helping each other. Because we are responsible, we keep our promises, we value transparency, and we extend and expect goodwill.

We Are Enterprising.

We have a bias for action. We are proactive, looking for opportunities to improve ourselves and our work, to fill gaps, and to support our colleagues and allies. We experiment with new approaches, learn and adapt best practices, and optimize roles based on individual strengths. Because we are enterprising, we constantly evaluate the status quo, appreciating what works, yet committed to discovering what may work better.

Our Alumni

IHS Alum Award winner Professor Tom Bell

Prof. Tom Bell of Chapman University was the recipient of the 2015 Charles G. Koch Outstanding IHS Alum Award.

Tom Bell, a professor at the Fowler School of Law at Chapman University, is the thirteenth winner of the annual Charles G. Koch Outstanding IHS Alum Award. Tom studied law to “learn how best to protect individual freedom” and has carried that passion into his teaching, scholarship, and work on policy issues.

After practicing law in Silicon Valley and Washington, DC, he jumped at the chance to enter teaching—not only as a law faculty, but at IHS seminars, where he has continued to teach summer after summer. He has also been featured in IHS Learn Liberty videos and in 2014 worked with IHS to create an online course on intellectual property and entrepreneurship.

Our Staff



Marty Zupan

President & CEO

Marty Zupan is President and CEO of the Institute for Humane Studies. She joined IHS …


Chad Thevenot

Executive Director

Chad has served at the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) since October 2004. He is …


Laura Barnett Cheplak

Senior Director of Operations

Laura Cheplak is the Senior Director of Operations at the Institute for Humane Studies where …

Thompson_Jennifer copy

Jennifer Thompson

Senior Director of Programs

Jennifer K. Thompson is Senior Director of Programs at the Institute for Humane Studies, where …


Daniel Butler

Director of Development

Dan joined IHS in 2004 after spending 4 years trading ETF’s on the floor of …


Gary Leff

Chief Financial Officer

Gary Leff is Chief Financial Officer for the Mercatus Center and Institute for Humane Studies …


Todd Noebel

Senior Director of Hiring and Professional Development

As Senior Director of Hiring and Professional Development, Todd is a consultative advisor on all …


Todd Hathaway

Senior Director of Information Technology

Todd Hathaway is the Senior Director of Information Technology at IHS and Mercatus, leading the …

Work at IHS

You can find our current job openings by clicking the link below. In addition, IHS accepts applications for positions not yet listed. New and diverse job opportunities become available throughout the year, so if you are interested in IHS but don’t see a suitable opening, we still encourage you to send us an application.

Click here to see our current opportunities!


Interested in interning with IHS?

Learn more about the Harper Internship Program!