Introduction to Ayn Rand, Objectivism and ARI
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The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Irvine, California, works to introduce young people to Ayn Rand’s novels, to support scholarship and research based on her ideas, and to promote the principles of reason, rational self-interest, individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism to the widest possible audience. The Institute is named for novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand (1905-1982), who is best known for her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. ARI has a distinguished Board of Directors and a staff of more than 40 employees.
ARI seeks to spearhead a cultural renaissance that will reverse the anti-reason, anti-individualism, anti-freedom, anti-capitalist trends in today’s culture. The major battleground in this fight for reason and capitalism is the educational institutions—high schools and, above all, the universities, where students learn the ideas that shape their lives.
Ayn Rand’s philosophy—known as Objectivism—holds that historical trends are the inescapable product of philosophy. To reverse the current political and economic trends in America and throughout the world requires a reversal of our society’s fundamental philosophy. Victory in this war of ideas will ultimately mean the defeat of the widely held, pernicious ideologies that dominate contemporary culture and threaten our liberty—ideologies such as collectivism, moral relativism and multiculturalism.
ARI undertakes a two-pronged strategy:
Through its education programs, ARI finds, trains and supports individuals who thoroughly understand Ayn Rand’s ideas and can communicate and apply them professionally.
Through its outreach programs, ARI disseminates Ayn Rand’s books and ideas to the general public.
A major ARI objective is to cultivate a generation of intellectuals who will be effective advocates for the fundamentals of reason, rational self-interest, individual rights and capitalism. These professionals will be capable of articulating those ideas, at the highest level, to peers and students through publishing and teaching.
Our plan to cultivate individuals with the ambition and aptitude to become these intellectuals entails a multi-step process. ARI’s “education funnel” (see below) illustrates the Institute’s integrated approach for finding, training and supporting the future Objectivist intellectuals who will advocate Ayn Rand’s ideas in the culture.
High Schools: Free Books to Teachers, Essay Contests
Our educational initiatives begin in the high schools—introducing young people to Ayn Rand’s books and ideas.
First, ARI offers free copies of Ayn Rand’s books to teachers across North America. Through this Free Books to Teachers program, educators receive, upon request, free classroom sets of Anthem or The Fountainhead—along with teacher’s guides and lesson plans. Some classrooms are also eligible to receive Atlas Shrugged.
To date, more than 1.4 million copies of these Ayn Rand novels have been donated to 30,000 teachers in 40,000 classrooms across the United States and Canada. Based on a projected shelf life of five years per book, we estimate that more than 3 million young people have been introduced to Ayn Rand’s books and ideas as a result of our programs to date.
The chart below depicts our progress to date and future projections for the cumulative number of Ayn Rand’s books read in high schools.
ARI sponsors annual high school essay contests, in which students submit essays based on questions drawn from Ayn Rand’s novels Anthem, We the Living, and The Fountainhead. Since this program began in 1986, more than 255,000 students have taken part in these competitions. ARI has awarded more than $895,000 in prizes to winners and runners-up. During the last academic school year, more than 24,000 students competed for $99,625 in prize money—making this the largest such educational competition in the United States.
Finally, we offer free copies of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged to the thousands of students who participate in our annual essay contests—giving them the opportunity to further their reading of Ayn Rand as they proceed through high school and go on to colleges and universities.
High Schools: Online Resources for Students, Teachers
Aynrandnovels.com: a resource site designed to provide students with important information about Ayn Rand and her works. The site is a helpful tool for students who want a better understanding of the novels—or for anyone else who is a fan of Ayn Rand’s fiction.
In addition, teachers who assign Ayn Rand’s novels to their students have a comprehensive resource at aynrandeducation.com, a Web site for educators. The site features information about Ayn Rand’s works and ideas, as well as sample lesson plans and teaching materials, with much more to come.
Colleges and Universities
Once students arrive on college campuses, they are typically confronted with a series of destructive, anti-reason ideas—anti-capitalism, moral relativism and multiculturalism, to name a few. ARI supports college students who reject these ivory-tower dogmas and seek an alternative.
Currently, ARI supports campus clubs for students at more than forty campuses across the United States and Canada. In addition to providing books, audio and video recordings and the like, we also provide speakers for on-campus lectures. During a typical academic school year, ARI speakers deliver more than forty college campus lectures and panel discussions.
The Institute also sponsors an annual Atlas Shrugged essay contest for college students, awarding more than $26,000 in prizes annually.
Moreover, ARI has established the Objectivist Academic Center (OAC), a distance-learning program offering courses, seminars and career training to future Objectivist intellectuals. The OAC curriculum is meant to supplement, not replace, a standard college education.
Currently more than 140 students, representing some sixty colleges and universities, take part in the program. These students are being trained and mentored to uphold rather than assault freedom, capitalism and the foundations of Western civilization. As they write, teach, and work in their chosen fields, they will help to make a positive impact on our culture’s philosophic trends well into the future.
Further support for these future professional intellectuals is provided in the form of grants to support graduate studies, article writing, dissertations and books. In a typical year ARI awards more than $75,000 in grant funding.
Finally, partnerships have been established between ARI and the corporate community to advance Ayn Rand’s ideas in the universities. Through ARI’s assistance, Ayn Rand’s ideas are taught and studied at more than 50 of America’s most influential institutions of higher education, including: Clemson University, Duke University, University of Virginia, University of Texas at Austin, University of Pittsburgh, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brown University, University of Kentucky, University of South Carolina, University of Florida, University of West Virginia and Wake Forest University.
Research and Publishing
ARI offers a number of research services to scholars and writers through the Ayn Rand Archives. The Ayn Rand Archives acquires documents in all media, reflecting the range and scope of Ayn Rand’s life, work and influence. These documents include originals and facsimiles of her papers and related documents.
ARI works to educate the general public, the corporate community and academia in Ayn Rand’s ideas.
ARI has a media and public policy center in Washington, D.C.—the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights—bringing a voice of reason to the nation’s capital. The Center is charged with arguing the philosophical case for a free market to the public policy and business communities, the media and the general public, and to policy-makers.
ARC op-eds and letters to the editor were published nearly 600 times in newspapers and on Web sites last year, reaching an audience estimated at more than forty-five million readers. ARC spokesmen also appear on major news networks, including interviews on Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC and C-SPAN. ARC's blog—Voices for Reason—analyzes and comments on current events from the perspective of Ayn Rand's philosophy of reason, individualism, and capitalism.
ARC’s multimedia Web site, ARC-TV, collects recordings of ARC media appearances, including lectures, TV and radio interviews, video op-eds and much more. Content includes recordings hosted by ARC, as well as links to recordings of ARC speakers on other sites.
Principles of a Free Society provides an overview of Ayn Rand’s political theory and was conceived as a means of capitalizing on the growing number of people reading Atlas Shrugged. It lays out key political principles underlying freedom in an integrated manner that both new comers and long time readers may find beneficial.
Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged sold more than 500,000 copies in 2009, more than double the previous record set in 2008, reports Penguin USA, publisher of the four American editions. For the first time, combined annual sales of Ayn Rand’s four novels totaled more than 1,000,000.
The Ayn Rand Bookstore, a for-profit business operated by the Ayn Rand Institute, offers the widest selection of books, audio and videos by and about Ayn Rand and her philosophy, Objectivism.
Our speakers deliver numerous lectures to community groups including political groups, alumni associations, area clubs and civic organizations.
On September 12, 2002, Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, inaugurated the ARI Lecture Series before a crowd of 600 with a lecture titled “9/11—One Year Later: Why America Is Losing the War!” Since then our speakers have delivered about six free public talks per year on topics ranging from ethics to foreign policy to history. With the opening of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights in Washington, DC, the ARI Lecture Series was renamed the ARC Speaker Series. A complete collection of video recordings of these lectures is available online at the ARC Speaker Series page.
Each summer in July, ARI hosts a nine-day summer conference for the general public. In recent years, these conferences averaged nearly 500 attendees. In 2012 the summer conference will be held in San Diego, California.
The Ayn Rand Center has a leadership development program for business executives. The explicit purpose of the program is to show how the ideas of Objectivism can provide the basis for success in business. The program—which can be customized to our clients’ needs—is offered to corporations in America and around the world.
The Institute offers a number of academic support programs for high school teachers and college professors who are interested in studying and teaching Ayn Rand’s ideas:
Writing grants for scholarly research
Lesson plans and teacher’s guides
Referrals to possible funding sources for professors
In-house research at ARI facilities
Specialized courses in Rand’s philosophy and literary works
Seminars on teaching Rand in the classroom
Professional speakers on specialized topics related to Rand’s works
ARI has several “free books” programs available for educators:
For high school teachers, free classroom sets of Anthem and The Fountainhead, teacher’s guides for the two novels and chapter-by-chapter lesson plans with exercises and suggestions for classroom activities.
For university professors, free review copies of Ayn Rand’s works, both fiction and nonfiction.
Under a new program, free copies of Atlas Shrugged to all incoming MBA students at selected universities.
Additional outreach programs to the academic community include a new program for capitalism and philosophy at Clemson University. ARI and Clemson University host a conference each summer for professors and deans involved in the various programs for capitalism and in philosophy. The focus is on seminars and discussion about teaching Rand in the classroom.
ARI offers an integrated program of educational projects that focuses on introducing young people to the ideas that are at the foundation of a free, capitalist society. ARI provides support for those students who plan to undertake intellectual careers defending the philosophy necessary for free enterprise. Finally, ARI works to educate the general public, the corporate community and academia in Ayn Rand’s ideas.
Our successes in recent years support an integrated strategy we have developed to accelerate our influence. Here’s how it works:
Through our Free Books to Teachers program, we introduce more than a million young people to Ayn Rand’s novels annually.
Through our essay contests we encourage young people to not just read the novels, but to think about them.
Through our program to offer free copies of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged to essay contest participants, we hope to spur their continued interest in Ayn Rand’s ideas.
Through our college and university programs, we work to cultivate a continued interest in reason, individualism and capitalism among students and educators.
For those students who have the ambition and aptitude to study these ideas in-depth, and are planning intellectual careers, we offer an extensive and rigorous professional curriculum.
For those who succeed in earning graduate degrees, we help create opportunities in academia to find work, advance their career and receive support for their research and publications.
Corollary ARI programs provide corporate training, publication support, lectures, conferences and seminars, and an extensive presence in the mass media and on the Internet. These programs not only serve as important public outreach, but offer writing and speaking opportunities to the intellectuals whose careers we support.
Several new initiatives are being planned for expansion of the Ayn Rand Institute’s programs for 2012. These include:
Plans to augment our high school educational programs—offering additional online courses to both students and teachers to enhance their understanding of Ayn Rand’s books and ideas.
The Atlas Shrugged Initiative—a major expansion of efforts to promote Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged to high school and college students.
The Ayn Rand Institute Campus program. The Campus aims to become, within the next decade, the primary source of education on Ayn Rand, her books and ideas, and their application to everyday life.
Plans to increase activities for our Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights in Washington, D.C.—allowing increased “real time” access to the nation’s media centers, permitting greater access to policymakers, “think tanks” and intellectuals, and facilitating stronger relationships with the business community.
In these pages we have outlined a number of ARI programs designed to introduce Ayn Rand and her ideas to young people—the leaders of tomorrow.
Our goal in establishing this wide-ranging, multi-year educational process is to train and support a generation of new intellectuals—future leaders who will lead the philosophic battle for reason, rational self-interest, individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism in the universities, the media and the business world.
Our vision for the culture is perhaps best summed up in Ayn Rand’s own words:
My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, all of the Ayn Rand Institute’s programs are funded solely by tax-deductible contributions from private individuals and organizations.
By making an annual contribution of $35 or more, you will receive a 12-month print subscription to Impact, the newsletter of the Ayn Rand Institute. Impact will keep you apprised of upcoming events and new publications on Ayn Rand and Objectivism. In addition, it provides provocative interviews with leading Objectivist intellectuals, a regular column for fans who want to learn more about Ayn Rand’s philosophy, and many other features to keep you plugged in to the latest information.
For more detailed information on the benefits provided to ARI contributors, consult the Support ARI section of our Web site.
With the moral and financial support of the many admirers of Ayn Rand’s ideas, ARI can and will succeed in putting these ideas into practice—reshaping tomorrow’s world according to Objectivism’s uplifting vision of life and of mankind.
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