• asi1

    American Studies Institute

    Providing a unique approach to citizenship education in contemporary national and international affairs.

    Upcoming Lectures
  • asi2

    American Studies Institute

    Visiting speakers bring relevant issues to life through real world experiences.

    Upcoming Lectures
  • asi-5

    American Studies Institute

    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.

    Upcoming Lectures

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.

Upcoming ASI Lectures

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.

President's Welcome

Bruce McLarty

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
Harding University

"....one of the most prestigious lecture series in the south." WSJ Senior Editorial Board Member Stephen Moore, speaking to Arkansas Business

Mission Statement

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.

Historical Synopsis

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:

Leadership Program

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

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.


News: Harding ranks among best Christian colleges and 100 college buys Read More...


For further information, contact:


Or write to:

Harding University
American Studies Institute
Box 10705
915 E. Market Ave.
Searcy, AR 72143-5615
U. S. A.

ASI also coordinates:

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.

Advisory Board

Harold Smethills
, chairman, founder and manager, Sterling Ranch LLC

Executive Committee 

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

Peter Searson, chairman, Gallagher Bassett Group, Capalaba, Australia

Mark Stansberry, founder and chairman, The GTD Group (Global Trade and Development)

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

Jody Venkatesan, partner, Holloway & Company

David Waldron, owner/contractor, Waldron Homes

Donald (Buddy) Wray, president (retired), Tyson Foods Inc.

Lynn Wright, group president, Regions Bank

Albert R. Yarnell, chairman, Yarnell Ice Cream Company

Earl Young, advisor, U.S. Rare Earth Minerals


Patriot's Endowment Club

Mr. and Mrs. Blair Bryan
Mrs. June Carter
Coca-Cola Refreshments
First Security Bank
Mrs. Margaret Helms
Dr. Robert and Bonnie Hooper
Mr. and Mrs. Jack McNutt

America's Club

Dr. Kyle and Kellee Blickenstaff
Mr. and Mrs. Larry Boone
Mr. and Mrs. Brad Bradley
Dr. David and Leah Burks
Mr. and Mrs. Byron Carlock Jr.
Dr. Jim and Maralyn Citty
Drs. Richard and Debbie Duke
First Community Bank
Mr. and Mrs. Topper Long
Mr. and Mrs. Paul Maynard
Dr. Bruce and Ann McLarty  
Mr. and Mrs. Roger McMennamy
Mrs. Treva Pryor    
Regions Bank   
SCM Architects PLLC    
Mr. and Mrs. Jody Venkatesan
Mr. and Mrs. Lynn Wright Jr.
Unity Health
Young America’s Foundation
White River Flooring 

Liberty Club

Dr. Glen and Nancy Blue
Johnny Brock Excavating    
Dr. Cliff and Louise Ganus
Mr. and Mrs. Blake Hendrix
Mr. and Mrs. John Howard
Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Leggett
Mr. and Mrs. Lundy Neely
Mr. and Mrs. Greg Niblock
Mrs. Lois Schwartz   
Simmons First Bank   
Dr. Mark and Connie White   

Constitutional Club

Drs. Tommy and Martha Bush
Dr. Jim and Susan Carr
Dr. Kris and Jenny Citty
Dr. Jared and Casey Cox
Mr. and Mrs. Larry Crain
Mr. and Mrs. Brooks Davis
Mr. and Mrs. Bradley Dell
Scott and Cheryl Finley
Mr. and Mrs. C. Alvin Fowler Jr.  
International EZUP Inc.    
Dr. Mike and Elaine Justus
Brett and Kim Kirkman   
Kelly and Anna Koonce
Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Ray
Mr. and Mrs. J. Guilford Rice
David and Jo-Ann Ridings  
Dr. Jack and Marjorie Ryan           
Bill Spear III    
John and Grace Steuri   
Wayne Stover
The Bug Man Inc. of Searcy
Mr. and Mrs. David Waldron
Maj. Dennis and Dr. Cheri Yecke   

Free Enterprise Club

Mr. and Mrs. David Allen      
Dr. and Mrs. Finis Bailey
Mrs. Patricia Berry
Dr. Rich and Laura Brown
Mr. and Mrs. Brant Bryan
Dr. Bryan and Laura Burks
George Carder   
Mr. and Mrs. Richard Cargile
Charlie’s Auto Paint and Body
Dr. David and Beth Collins
Dr. and Mrs. Bob Corbin
Mr. and Mrs. Keith Cronk
Dr. Dan and Alisa Davidson
FL Davis Home Center
Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Dillard
Fran Dugger
Edward Jones  
Entergy Arkansas  
Mr. and Mrs. Jim Fielder  
Mr. and Mrs. Scott Finley   
Mr. and Mrs. Al Fowler Jr.   
Dr. Al and Pam Frazier
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Gallo
Larry and Virginia Hansen
Mr. and Mrs. Rick Harper
Dr. and Mrs. Budd Hebert     
Mr. and Mrs. James House   
J.R. and Dr. Kathy Howard
Charlie and Liz Howell
Dr. Allan and Carole Isom   
Drs. Fred and Alice Jewell  
Dr. Bruce and Lisa Johnson
Mr. and Mrs. Carl Lindsey   
Mr. and Mrs. Brian Maddox        
Dr. and Mrs. Edward McAdams  
Dr. and Mrs. Randy McLeod
Mike Millar   
Mr. and Mrs. Paul Morgan
Mossy Oak Properties   
Mr. and Mrs. Dan Newsom
Dr. Howard and Jane Norton
Mr. and Mrs. Joel Pritchett
Proctor & Gamble    
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Raley III
Dr. and Mrs. Bob Reely
Dr. and Mrs. Porter Rodgers   
Mr. and Mrs. Craig Russell   
Dr. Leon and Marilyn Sanderson
Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Sloan     
Mr. and Mrs. Ty Swindle   
Tipton & Hurst   
Zearl and Betty Watson   
Mr. and Mrs. Donald Wray
Mr. and Mrs. Albert Yarnell
Don and Doris Yates