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TFAS Public Policy Fellows Explore the American Political Tradition


This year’s cohort of the 2022-23 TFAS Public Policy Fellows embarked on an enriching journey that commenced in the fall and forged new friendships, growing close as a cohort. Engaging in spirited discussion and debates, the group considered the most important questions facing fusionism through study of key thinkers during series of academic discussion sessions and weekend retreats.

Public Policy Fellows discuss the work of Russell Kirk.

Throughout the year-long program, these promising young professionals focused on answering the question, “What is conservatism?” They analyzed post-war conservatism and the efforts made by scholars such as F.A. Hayek, Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley Jr. and Frank Meyer to determine how best to resolve the conflict between freedom and order in public policy.

Each month, fellows discussed topics essential to republican government with public policy professionals, academic and political leaders. They discuss topics like “The History of the Conservative Movement,Hayek & the Constitution of Liberty” and “The Political Thought of William F. Buckley Jr.” Distinguished speakers led discussions providing their valuable expertise and sharing their varied experiences. Speakers included TFAS senior scholar Dr. Donald Devine, TFAS regent emeritus Dr. Lee Edwards, president and CEO of The Federalist Society Eugene Meyer, George and Sally Mayer Fellow and TFAS vice president of academic affairs Dr. Anne Bradley, senior fellow at American Enterprise Institute Matthew Continetti, Novak ’08 and senior editor at Reason Stephanie Slade, Novak ’16.

Annette Kirk shares stories of her late husband’s life and their home, Piety Hill.

Fellows gathered at the Russell Kirk Center in October for a three-day retreat, during which they explored Western civilization and the American political tradition as discussed in “The Roots of American Order.” TFAS was excited to partner with the Russell Kirk Center for the first time this year. The partnership allowed fellows to explore these concepts at Kirk’s own home in Mecosta, Michigan.

Dr. Michael Federici, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Middle Tennessee State University and Dr. Jason Jewell, professor and chair of the Department of Humanities at Faulkner University, joined the fellows at the Kirk Center to lead the discussion on The Roots of American Order as the Foundation for a New Fusionism.  

Fellows explore Philadelphia during winter retreat.

Bobby Miller, PPF ’22, discussed how impactful his time at the Kirk Center was in an article for the National Review.

“The organizers gave us the space to make sense of the philosophical and attitudinal fissures tearing the Right asunder in the post-Trump era,” Miller said. “For some of us, this was the first time we had the chance to do so in an off-the-record setting.” 

In February, the fellows traveled to Philadelphia to discuss constitutional conservatism with Dr. Gary Gregg from Louisville University and Dr. Jeff Polet from the Gerald Ford Presidential Foundation. Fellows debated on the Founding Fathers vision for the American republic as expressed in The Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers and how to apply their principles to overcome the country’s obstacles.

Dr. Jeff Polet leads a discussion in Philadelphia.

Faith Brown, PPF ’22, shared that this fellowship allowed her to grow her network and engage in meaningful discussion with her peers.

“I was worried that I would miss the academic life after graduating, but it’s been so refreshing to have this intellectual community where I can go to read and discuss ideas that I don’t normally encounter in my daily work,” she said. “D.C. can be an overwhelming place both personally and professionally, but this fellowship has provided me with an incredible professional network and deepened many friendships.”

Thanks to the generous support of the John William Pope Foundation, the 2022-23 TFAS Public Policy Fellowship allowed these young professionals to foster strong connections with peers working in public policy while building an understanding of the principles of fusionism through deliberation and debate.

Applications for the 2023-2024 Public Policy Fellowship are due on July 14, 2023. Visit TFAS.org/PPF for more information and to apply.


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