Program areas at Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty
Education:The Education Department of the Acton Institute seeks to equip current and future leaders in business, education, and religion through quality educational programming to understand the moral basis for a free economy that creates an environment in which all have the opportunity to flourish. These programs are open to all who are interested, but special consideration is given to those with a proven track record of effectuating change and influencing those in their institutions, communities, and denominations both nationally and internationally.The Institute's educational programming includes both large and small conferences. Acton's flagship event, Acton University, an annual four-day conference that explores the foundations of a free society, drew over 1,000 participants from more than 60 nations in 2019. Many of those who attend Acton Institute conferences, including Acton University, receive financial support to cover expenses such as room and board, conference fees, and travel in cases of need. The staff of the Education Department also invests considerable time in cultivating ecumenical networks of religious leaders, students, educators, and businesspeople in order to expand the Institute's reach, develop strategic partnerships, and remain connected to the needs and demands of the Institute's constituencies.
General Education and Communications:The Institute reaches out to business leaders, policymakers, students, and religious and community leadership groups through lectures, media products, web and social media, and various writings. The 2019 annual dinner celebrating 29 years of the Acton Institute was held to promote outreach and to thank supporters for their partnership. The dinner and program festivities included discourse with prominent public speakers and Institute supporters. Over 900 attended, representing many states and several foreign countries, and admission was charged to defray expenses incurred. The Acton Lecture Series and Acton Film Series hosted over 25 local events during the year in our conference center for discussions of a variety of topics related to our work. The Institute also sponsored several other luncheon and dinner lectures around the country. Our facility in Grand Rapids allowed us to host an increasing number of downtown events offered to the general public.Acton Institute also operates a bookstore to promote and sell its own publications, in addition to outside publications, related to our mission and program outreach areas. These educational materials were sold, distributed and exhibited at a variety of events throughout the world.Our rich and robust web presence centers on the Acton website (www.acton.org), and includes other Acton sites such as the PowerBlog as well as a great deal of current and historical Acton-produced content. The Institute has a broad and growing presence in social media. This platform has steadily increased the scope and frequency of Acton's outreach to the general public. The Communications Department manages the growing family of Acton websites, blog, podcasts, and social media which use leading technology to integrate text, audio, and video content in easily accessible formats and venues to promote Acton's message to web users. It publishes the print and digital editions of Religion & Liberty, Acton Notes, and the weekly email newsletter, Acton News & Commentary. The Communications Department also connects Acton experts with print and broadcast journalists covering faith and policy issues.
Research:The Institute's academic investigations are conducted by its Research Department. This work centers on theology, economics, philosophy, and history, among other topics. Additionally, the investigations produced at the Acton Institute are delivered locally in Grand Rapids as well as at national and international conferences with the goal of reaching the scholarly community at large.The Research Department publishes books, journals, monographs and occasional papers, and its staff regularly publishes books with external publishing houses. The Journal of Markets & Morality is a semi-annual refereed journal that provides a forum for scholars to engage issues concerning the morality of the marketplace. The Christian Social Thought Series examines, in each volume, a key economic issue facing Christians. Non-Christians have also written articles and books addressing relevant themes of interest to the Acton Institute. The Research Department also manages Acton's academic scholarship programs. Fellowships were awarded to provide financial assistance, in the form of academic fellowships and travel grants, to promising seminarians and graduate students who are advancing an understanding of the connection between economic liberty and religious values. The annual Novak Award recipient is presented with a prize to acknowledge and reward new research on the relationship between religion, economic freedom, and the free and virtuous society.Lastly, the Research Department manages a number of programs, including (1) small specific conferences for scholars and graduate students that mostly are held in Grand Rapids, (2) larger conferences for leading religious figures, and (3) the scholarly and programmatic outreach of Acton's Rome office.Internationally, we have held conferences on various topics such as economic liberty, poverty and development, Catholic social teaching, Judaism and the economy, intellectual property rights, and limited government. Our office in Rome also held regular small lectures at the office.