American Studies Institute
The Purpose of the Program
Constitutional Government, Capitalism and Christian-Judeo Ethics
The late president emeritus of Harding University, Dr. George Benson, articulated the "three C's." From these three C's one can see a multitude of values flowing, such as respect for authority, respect for human life, work ethic and discipline.
Harding University's American Studies Institute (ASI) can be successful through the support of people who share in these same values in order that we may return 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.
Harding University is pleased to present its quality program in American citizenship education. The University's American Studies Institute stands as a tribute to the heritage that has made America the great nation that it is.
A 77-year history of educational excellence at Harding has provided the atmosphere for free enterprise education in a nation that was founded upon Christian principles of faith, liberty and human dignity. Harding University strives to enhance the appreciation of that heritage through the American Studies Institute's focus on basic principles of free enterprise.
The American Studies Institute encompasses thousands of individuals and corporations who participate in the program each year.
Dr. Bruce McLarty, President
"....one of the most prestigious lecture series in the south." WSJ Senior Editorial Board Member Stephen Moore, speaking to Arkansas Business
The American Studies Institute is to be an educational bastion to the broad countercultural trends that we see sweeping our nation from one decade to the next. Its answer is to go back to the fundamental values that made this country great. As Dr. George S. Benson, the late president in Harding University, first articulated as Constitutional Government, Capitalism, and Christianity. From these three C’s, American Studies Institute can see a multitude of values flow such as a respect for authority, respect for human life, the work ethic, and discipline.
This long-established tradition continues to be highlighted by its marquee, Distinguished Lectureship Series, and emphasis on educational programs, such as the National Leadership Forum and the Belden Center for Private Enterprise Education. For the future, efforts are being explored, such as the Sino American Studies Institute.
Harding University will always uphold and study America’s role it plays in making this country and the world a better place in which to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The American Studies Distinguished Lecture Series has had 500+ distinguished lecturers on campus over all of these years. An example of the quality of the lectures in illustrated by the following list: Gerald Ford, William Crowe, Dan Quayle, Lynne Cheney, Helmut Schmidt, Benazir Bhutto, Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney, Margaret Thatcher, George Bush, John Major, Colin Powell, Lech Walesa, Mikhail Gorbachev, Barbara Bush, Malcolm S. Forbes Jr., and Brian Mulroney. Further evidence of the American Studies Institute program being the marquee program of the university, it has been awarded Freedom Foundation medals from the very earliest to date to a total of over 45, for contribution to the community and country.
1925 Dr. George S. Benson goes to China as a missionary and personally experiences Communism and Socialism
1936 Dr. George S. Benson returns to Harding University as the university’s second president; Dr. Benson established his National Education Program (NEP), emphasizing Godliness and Patriotism and his three C’s of Constitutional Government, Capitalism, and Christianity (over 25 million people a week came in contact with Dr. Benson’s thoughts on these through his radio program and publications)
1936 Dr. Kimmerer of Princeton University; first American Studies speaker
1949 First Freedom’s Foundation medal awarded to Harding University by General Dwight D. Eisenhower
1952 School of American Studies established; Dr. Clifton L. Ganus named Dean
1953 First educational tour for students
1954 American Studies for Teachers program begun
1956 Youth Citizenship Seminar began for High School juniors and seniors
1965 Dr. Billy Ray Cox named Director of the American Studies program
1973 Management Seminars begun as a part of the American Studies program
1979 The Dell Belden Center for Free Enterprise Education was established
1982 Lecture Studio Library was begun; Dr. David B. Burks, Dean of the School of Business, named director of the program
1985 The Walton program was established
1987 American Studies Program changed to American Studies Institute and an advisory board was formed with Co-Chairmen Jack Stephens and Sam Walton
1987 Dr. Jim Carr named Director of the American Studies Institute and Dr. Bob Reely named Executive Associate Director
1988 American Studies Institute Conference Center was established
1988 Arkansas American Legion Auxiliary Girls’ State
1990 American Studies Distinguished Student upper level Honors program formed
1992 Arkansas State Special Olympics hosted by the American Studies Institute
1992 Stephens Scholars Program begun
1993 Youth Citizenship Seminar (YCS) changed to National Leadership Forum (NLF)
1993 Summer Economics Institute for Teachers had begun, graduating approximately 25 teachers a year for seven years totaling of 175 graduates, influencing as many as 150 students per year, giving a multiplier of possibly thousands of students to be influenced in Economic Education
1999 Arkansas Home School Conference hosted by Conference Center
2004 Sino/American Studies Institute began. Presently, 16 Chinese scholars have graduated from Harding University and there are 36 that are currently enrolled
2006 National Leadership Forum celebrating its 50th Anniversary with approximately 10,000+ High School students influenced over these years in godliness and patriotism
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:
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.
China Scholar Program
The American Studies Institute values Sino-American relations and exchanges, and thus invites Chinese government, business and educational leaders to experience U. S. culture and study U. S. governmental, business and educational systems.
- A Master of Science in Educational Leadership program is designed to cater to the needs of Chinese educators and school administrators who desire to further their professional knowledge and skills in educational leadership and school administration.
- A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program is designed to meet the needs of Chinese businessmen and business leaders who desire to further their professional knowledge and skills in business administration and organizational leadership.
- Special programs can be designed to meet the special needs and interests of Chinese business leaders and school administrators who come to study and research on a weekly, monthly, or semester basis.
- Lecturers include professors with Ph. D’s, and leaders and experts in various fields, such as college presidents and deans, business CEOs, successful bankers, and local political leaders.
- Lectures or courses for non-credit programs can include topics such as American industries and business, American politics, American business laws and ethics, American school administration, American educational leadership, Sino-American trade, Sino-American relations, etc.
- Field trips can include U.S. businesses, industries, schools, cultural events, the state capital, and other places of interest.
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For further information, contact:
Or write to:
American Studies Institute
915 E. Market Ave.
Searcy, AR 72143-5615
U. S. A.
ASI also coordinates:
- Distinguished Lecture Series
- Business Consultation and Training
- Walton Program
- Stephens Scholars Program
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. The program itself, along with 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, bringing national opinion leaders in business and politics to local constituents. Harding was a pioneer, and continues to be a leader, in the promotion of free enterprise education, preparing students to build a better nation. The expanded services of the American Studies Institute assure that these goals will continue to be achieved.
Harold Smethills, chairman, founder and manager, Sterling Ranch LLC
Chris Bequette, president, American Coaches Wealth Management
Charles W. Bradley, chief executive officer, Senderra Capital
Don Brown, retired, Mead Johnson Nutritional Group
Blair Bryan, managing director, Jones Lang LaSalle Americas Inc.
Brant Bryan, principal, CresaPartners, Fairways Equities
Brian Bush, executive vice president, Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs
Byron Carlock, president & CEO, CNL LifeStyle Company
Larry Crain, president, Crain Management Group
John Paul Hammerschmidt, U.S. Representative (retired)
J. Leon Johnson, circuit judge, Pulaski County, Arkansas
Tory Kiam, president, RPI Corporation
Dennis Leggett, (retired) Aerojet
Topper Long, president and chief executive officer (retired), Textron Engine Marine and Land Systems
J. Stanley Marshall, founding chairman, The James Madison Institute for Public Policy Studies
Paul Maynard, partner, Deloitte & Touche, Minneapolis
Bruce McLarty, president, Harding University
Jack McNutt, president (retired), Murphy Oil Corporation
Lundy Neely, president and chief executive officer, Crown Solutions
Wayne Ridout, president, Ridout Lumber Company
Porter R. Rodgers, surgeon (retired)
Reynie Rutledge, chair, First Security BanCorp
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Fritz S. Steiger, president, Deltox Inc.
Jeff Tennyson, chairman and chief executive officer, EquiFirst Corporation
Lt. Gen. Herman O. Thomson, U.S. Air Force (retired), H.O. Thomson Associates Inc.
W. Barger Tygart, vice chairman (retired), J.C. Penney Company
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