Liberty is the most fragile possession of the human race. The great historian Arnold Toynbee challenges us even today with this statement:
"The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years. History seems to confirm the saying that people of past civilizations have passed through nine steps to complete a cycle beginning and ending in bondage. People in bondage have developed a spiritual faith; spiritual faith has given them courage; courage has brought them liberty; liberty has given them abundance; abundance has caused selfishness; selfishness produced complacency; complacency brought on apathy; apathy begot dependency; dependency brought forth its natural result: bondage again!"
Needed Now More Than Ever!
In a country where drive-by shootings are an indication of the decline in the values of our youth, what are we to do?
The answer is, "We go back to the fundamental values that made this country great!" The late president emeritus of Harding University, Dr. George S. Benson, articulated these values as "the three C's." The first value was Constitutional Government. The second was Capitalism, and the third C was Christian-Judeo Ethics. From these three C's one can see a multitude of values flowing, such as respect for authority, respect for human life, the work ethic and discipline.
It is ironic that in the post-Cold War era, Russia and Eastern European countries are clamoring for seminars on entrepreneurship that teach the fundamental values that this country was built upon, such as the work ethic, trust and respect for human dignity. At the same time, our own country moves in the direction of more big government, more taxes, devaluation of human life, and more crime.
The American Studies Institute is an educational bastion against these broad trends that we see sweeping our nation. However, we know no man is an island, and no man stands alone. The same can be said for the programs such as American Studies.
Harding University's American Studies Institute cannot do it alone! We must have the widespread support of people who share in the values that are promulgated by Dr. Benson's famous three C's. Only through locking arms and taking a stand can we have any hope of reversing some of these trends, returning this nation to the greatness it once held, and ensuring its place in the world as the pre-eminent leader of liberty.
Establishing the Program
The American Studies Institute traces its roots to a program at Harding University that began in 1953 as the School of American Studies. Initiated to work toward bringing about a better understanding of the American way of life, the program had an impact on the education of every student. In the ensuing years, the program of American Studies at Harding has become one of the most-honored programs of its kind in the nation.
Continuing the Tradition
Harding's program for American Studies continues to work toward increasing awareness of the American tradition. Expanded in 1988 under its new name, the American Studies Institute is broadening its base of emphasis in a Christian educational environment that encourages students to continue the traditions that made America great. Rooted in such concepts as freedom, liberty, democracy, faith in God, family and values, the heritage of American society rests in ideals fostered by the founding fathers of this great nation. Twelve specific programs are coordinated by the American Studies Institute:
The ASI Leadership Program conducts conferences, seminars and training either on campus or at various locations throughout the United States. Featuring national opinion leaders, these conferences are designed to develop American leadership and to promote the values that are important to this country as it approaches the 21st century.
Conference hotel facilities are also available for use by business firms and organizations who desire to plan their own programs. A multi-faceted Conference Center with state-of-the-art audio/visual technology is housed in the University's American Heritage Center.
Entrepreneurial Development, BUSINESS Consultation and Training
Consultation and training on behalf of the private and public sectors to enhance the efficiency of government, business and industry is a key program of the American Studies Institute. The American Studies' Center for Management Excellence assists with this service.
Distinguished Student Honors Program
Harding University students of all majors are eligible to apply to the American Studies Institute Distinguished Student Honors Program. The prerequisites for application include a 3.5 grade point average or above and standing as a junior, senior or member of Harding University's Honors Program. The grade point average for the students who are now participating in this program is 3.76 and above.
Educational tours of various cities and major metropolitan areas throughout the United States are conducted for Harding's American Studies Honor Students, allowing them to meet business leaders, government officials and educators each year. Normally, one tour is a part of the annual schedule, including one to Washington, D.C., on occasion.
National Leadership Forum
Each year the American Studies Institute hosts a National Leadership Forum on the Harding campus. Co-sponsored with regional civic clubs, the seminar promotes leadership education for high school students from a five-state region.
The Belden Center for Private Enterprise Education
The Belden Center for Private Enterprise Education at Harding University emphasizes a back-to-the-basics approach to economic enlightenment. Endowed by the late Del Belden, former chairman of Lomanco Inc., the Belden Center attempts to translate values into practical education programs.
As part of the program, the University's student economics team has participated in the "Students in Free Enterprise" intercollegiate competition since 1979. The team won the national championship in 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984 and 1985 and were national runners-up in 1979, 1983, 1986 and 1988 1993.
Central American Entrepreneurial Seminars
Seminars are conducted on entrepreneurial skills and their application in promoting economic development in two Central American countries. More than 200 attendees per country is typical of the interest in this seminar program. Local and national business leaders participate in the presentations. This program nurtures and strengthens the ties between not only Harding University's American Studies Institute and the Central American countries but also with graduates of the Walton Scholar Program who have finished their educations and have returned to enhance the free enterprise systems of their own countries.
Evaluating the Results
The benefits of the American Studies Institute have been visibly significant. Unequaled educational opportunities have been provided to students in many disciplines. The program has a long-standing tradition of recognition from the Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge, Pa., receiving numerous awards in the area of community service. In fact, either the program itself or faculty and administrators at Harding have won a Freedoms Foundation award every year for the past 44 years.
Harding's continuing emphasis on the principles of freedom has made an indelible mark on students through the years. Their influence continues to permeate and influence those around them.
The American Studies Institute at Harding University is truly unique. I know of no other program in America that brings to its constituencies the same caliber of national opinion leaders in business and politics. Harding was a pioneer, and continues to be a leader, in the promotion of free enterprise education.
Harding University is making a difference. Its educational program in free enterprise and in the American way of life is preparing students to build a better nation. The expanded services of the American Studies Institute assure that these goals will continue to be achieved.
Dr. James W. Carr
American Studies Institute