NAS was founded to confront the rise of campus political correctness. Our accomplishments include the passing of legislation drafted by NAS members; the development of new academic programs; the establishment of higher education reform organizations; and the publication of reports on academic content.


NAS was founded in 1987 by Dr. Stephen Balch and others. For several years before that the founding members had been meeting under the name Campus Coalition for Democracy. Balch at the time was a professor of political science at John Jay College. NAS was created to confront the rising threat of politicization of colleges and universities and to summon faculty members back to the principles of liberal education and disciplined intellectual inquiry.



2018 – NAS publishes The Irreproducibility Crisis of Modern Science, which describes the failure of a large amount of scientific research to discover true results because of slipshod use of statistics, groupthink, and flawed research techniques.

2017 – NAS publishes Outsourced to China, a study of how China exerts influence on American higher education by way of its Confucius Institutes.

2017 – NAS publishes Making Citizens: How American Universities Teach Civics, an in-depth report on how “the New Civics” substitutes progressive activism for traditional civics education.

2016 – NAS publishes The Disappearing Continent, a critique of how progressive bias distorts the College Board’s Advanced Placement European History examination.

2016 – NAS publishes The Architecture of Intellectual Freedom, NAS President Peter Wood’s statement defining the place and importance of intellectual freedom.

2015 – NAS publishes Inside Divestment: The Illiberal Movement to Turn a Generation Against Fossil Fuels, a comprehensive account of the campus fossil fuel divestment movement.

2015 – NAS publishes Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism, the first critical account of the sustainability movement in higher education.

2014 – NAS begins its successful campaign to reform the College Board’s Advanced Placement United States History examination.

2013 – NAS publishes What Does Bowdoin Teach? How a Contemporary Liberal Arts College Shapes Students, an in-depth case study to learn what a contemporary liberal arts college education consists of.

2013 – NAS publishes Recasting History: Are Race, Class, and Gender Dominating American History?, an investigation by the Texas Association of Scholars on whether race, class, and gender are displacing other important approaches to the study of American history.

2012 – NAS moves from Princeton, New Jersey to New York City.

2012 – NAS publishes A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California, a report prepared for the UC Regents by the California Association of Scholars. 

2011 – NAS publishes new edition of Beach Books for the 2011-2012 academic year. 

2011 – NAS publishes The Vanishing West: 1964-2010, a report on the gradual disappearance of once-vital Western Civilization courses from college curricula. 

2011 – NAS launches its Center for the Study of the Curriculum to “document and to analyze important changes” to college curricula and “to propose improvements.”

2010 – NAS publishes the first comprehensive study of college common reading programs and the books these programs assign, Beach Books: What Do Colleges and Universities Want Students to Read Outside Class?

2009 – Stephen Balch receives the Jeane Jordan Kirkpatrick Academic Freedom Award from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the American Conservative Union Foundation.

2009 – Peter W. Wood becomes NAS’s second NAS president and Stephen Balch becomes chairman.

2007 – Stephen Balch receives the National Humanities Medal from President George W. Bush for his contributions to liberal education.

2007 – NAS publishes The Scandal of Social Work Education, a report on the ideological mandates imposed on students at schools of social work in the United States.

2004 – NAS creates the Association for the Study of Free Institutions, now head-quartered at the University of Nebraska, Omaha.

2003 – NAS holds second national workshop for academic program designers at Princeton University with a focus on the study of free institutions.

2001 – During the run-up to the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger (the racial-preferences-in-college-admissions cases), NAS publishes a detailed examination, Race and Higher Education, of the principal research report put forward by the University of Michigan in support of its admissions policies.

2000 – NAS publishes Losing the Big Picture: The Fragmentation of the English Major Since 1984, a study of the disintegration of the English major between 1964 and 1998.

1998 – NAS helps establish The Historical Society, committed to fostering serious historical scholarship, now located at Boston University.

1997 – NAS holds its first national workshop for academic program designers at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, with a focus on Great Books programs.   

1996 – California voters pass Proposition 209—legislation drafted by NAS members, also known as the California Civil Rights Initiative—banning racial and ethnic discrimination in California public universities.

1996 – NAS publishes The Dissolution of General Education: 1914-1993, a report documenting the erosion of higher education’s commitment to providing undergraduates with a broad and rigorous exposure to major areas of knowledge.

1995 – NAS proposes and helps establish the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), a higher education reform group devoted to working with governing boards and donors, now located in Washington, D.C.

1994 – NAS proposes and helps establish the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics (now the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers), dedicated to enriching the quality of literary scholarship, now located at Boston University.

1993 – NAS publishes a widely-noted statement on campus sexual harassment policies, “Sexual Harassment and Academic Freedom.”

1993 – NAS, working with its members on campuses around the country, inaugurates a nationwide campaign to establish new academic programs on Western civilization, the study of free institutions and the American founding. Over forty such programs have since been created.

1992 – NAS proposes and helps establish the American Association for Liberal Education (AALE), an accreditation body focused on liberal education, now located in Washington, D.C.

1988 – The first issue of NAS’s quarterly journal Academic Questions is published.

1988 – NAS’s first national membership conference is held in New York City.

1987 – The National Association of Scholars opens its first office in Princeton, New Jersey.