American Studies Institute

Programs & Training

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. A number of programs are coordinated by the American Studies Institute:

Distinguished Lecture Series

The American Studies Institute traces its roots to a program that started at Harding in 1953 called the School of American Studies. Expanded and renamed in 1988, the Institute is designed to supplement the academic training of students by promoting a complete understanding of the institutions, values and ideas of liberty and democracy. It does so by providing up-to-date reflections from national and international leaders in business, government and education.

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 Harding faculty and administrators have won a Freedoms Foundation award every year for over 45 years. 

The Distinguished Lecture Series is open to our students, faculty, staff, and our community to bring the values and ideas of liberty and democracy in person.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, our lectures have been delivered in person to smaller audiences as well as virtually to an audience all over campus, town, the nation, and the world.

Upcoming Lectures »

American Studies Conference Center

The ASI Leadership Program conducts conferences, seminars, and training on campus in our full range conference center. Large meeting rooms, small meeting rooms, auditoriums, 50 hotel rooms, state of the art AV technology, and catering options are available to our campus and community.  We offer various services to help plan the events, from advisory roles to full-service planning and execution.

Distinguished Scholars

This is a photo of the ASI Officers.

2020-2021 ASI Officer Council
From left to right: Mackenzie Cobb (Senior Nursing from Fort Smith, AR), Holden Montgomery (Senior Communication Studies from Nashville, TN), Martha Pike Weaver (Senior Medical Humanities from Memphis, TN) Noah Hernbeck (Senior Accounting from Nashville, TN), Mary-Grace Golden (Junior Public Administration from Franklin, TN), John Rowe (Senior Accounting from Little Rock, AR), Carson Swede (Junior Accounting from Little Rock, AR), Konrad Heyen (Junior Computer Science and Math from Houston, TX), Everett Belle Kirkman (Junior Public Relations from Searcy, AR), Seth Sims (Junior Biochemistry and Premed from Woodward, OK), Emily Nixon (Junior Accounting from Nashville, TN), Eric Johnson (Junior American Studies from Columbus, OH), and Ella Horton (Sophomore Nursing from Little Rock, AR). Not pictured: Emily Whitehorn (Junior Mid Level Education from Brentwood TN), and Grant Countess (Junior Accounting and Information Systems from Shelbyville, TN).

Harding University students of all majors are eligible to apply to the American Studies Institute Distinguished Scholars program. The prerequisites for automatic invitation include a 3.8-grade point average or above and standing as a junior, senior, or freshman member of Harding University's Honors Scholar Program. Each fall there is an open application process for those with an automatic invitation and those who have a 3.6-grade point average available through Pipeline.

The value of membership greatly outweighs the small, one-time membership fee.  The generous sponsors to our program make these membership benefits available for ASI Distinguished Scholars: 

  • Be a guest to dinners before  Distinguished Lecturers where members meet and dine with the campus, community, and state leaders.
  • Attend Harding Leadership Forum with other leaders from across campus.  This annual event is held in the spring and has been held at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion since 2016.
  • Receive an ASI T-shirt and an ASI cord to wear as part of the graduation regalia.
  • Service opportunities include setting up the 911 Memorial on campus, serve at the annual Veterans Day breakfast, and participate in monthly meetings.
  • Serve on the Officer Council to plan and implement all of the events and activities with the American Studies Institute.

ASI Officer Council

Each year the ASI Officer Council is a group of top ASI Scholars. The ASI Officer Council assists the executive director in Distinguished Lecture events, serves as hosts at ASI dinner events,  works with ASI sponsors, leads ASI scholar meetings and induction, and plans student leadership events.

Educational Tours

Educational tours of various cities and major metropolitan areas throughout the United States are conducted for Harding's American Studies Scholars, allowing them to meet business leaders, government officials and educators each year. 

As soon as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, ASI will resume these trips.

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 multi-state region.