The National Association of Scholars is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that seeks to reform higher education. We uphold the standards of a liberal arts education that fosters intellectual freedom, searches for the truth, and promotes virtuous citizenship. To accomplish this mission we defend the academic freedom of faculty members, students, and others through individual advocacy; investigate issues affecting academic freedom, the integrity, purpose, and neutrality of the university and publish our findings as in-depth reports; educate the public about policies and legislation that would preserve the liberal arts and protect academic freedom. These create three pillars from which our work stands: individual advocacy, research reports, and public advocacy.
The National Association of Scholars upholds the standards of a liberal arts education that fosters intellectual freedom, searches for the truth, and promotes virtuous citizenship.
The standards of a liberal arts education that the NAS upholds include reasoned scholarship and civil debate in America’s colleges and universities; and individual merit in academic and scholarly endeavor. We expect that ideas be judged on their merits; that scholars engage in the disinterested pursuit of the truth; and that colleges and universities provide for fair and judicial examination of contending views.
We expect colleges to offer coherent curricula and programs of study. We uphold a view of institutional integrity that includes financial probity as well as transparency in the curriculum and classroom. We uphold the principles of academic freedom that include faculty members’ and students’ freedom to pursue academic research; their freedom to question and to think for themselves; and their freedom from ideological imposition.
We expect colleges and universities to prioritize education as academia’s main purpose. And we understand education in our time and place to entail providing students with a breadth of understanding of core subjects including Western civilization and American history. We recognize that the vitality of American education arises in large part out of the freedom of colleges and universities to experiment and to offer diverse curricula. That robust diversity, however, must be anchored in respect for the abiding ideals of the pursuit of the truth and the cultivation of virtuous citizenship.
We view the liberal arts as foundational in higher education. The liberal arts provide the essential intellectual skills, substantive knowledge, and cultural context that underlie every discipline within the university. We expect the university as a whole to abide by the standards enunciated in the liberal arts.
We view colleges and universities generally as serving the need to prepare students for virtuous citizenship, which for citizens of the United States entails an understanding of the nature of democratic institutions, including representative government. More broadly, virtuous citizenship is upholding the principles of the rule of law and taking a positive role in shaping public life.
What We Do
We publish a quarterly journal, Academic Questions, which explores the vices and virtues of the contemporary university. Issues are often themed and include scholarly articles, book reviews, poetry, and items of academic interest. A subscription to Academic Questions is included in NAS membership.
We regularly publish studies that examine curricula and other aspects of higher education policy and practice. These studies document trends in contemporary academia. They aim to stimulate improvements to the quality of education in our colleges and universities.
NAS’s website presents daily opinion and commentary on developments and trends in higher education. A high-traffic destination linked by major online publications, NAS.org publishes substantial op-ed style articles by guest authors and NAS staff, along with debates and videos.
NAS and our members are involved in efforts to pass legislation for true and salutary higher education reform. We file friend-of-the-court briefs in legal cases, defending freedom of speech and conscience, and the civil rights of educators and students. We give testimony before congressional and legislative committees and engage public support for worthy reforms.
NAS holds national and regional conferences that focus on important issues and public policy debates in higher education today. At these meetings and conferences, those concerned about higher education convene to discuss issues of the moment, propose reforms, and recognize individual achievements.