Ayn Rand declared, “What we need today are ‘new intellectuals’,” which she said includes “any man or woman who is willing to think, meaning: any man or woman who knows that man’s life must be guided by reason, by the intellect, not by feelings, wishes, whims, or mystic revelations. Any man or woman who values his life and does not want to give in to today’s cult of despair, cynicism, and impotence….”
In connection with this, Rand advised businessmen to support “the advocates of reason, individualism, and capitalism” who “are a very small… valiant minority of authentic fighters struggling against overwhelming odds” at today’s colleges and universities. I agree with Rand’s recommendation, all the more so today.
“Money is a great power,” she wrote elsewhere; “it is a frozen form of productive energy. And, therefore, the spending of money is a grave responsibility.” I have frozen energy and I will provide it to fund scholarships and grants for the academic advancement of new intellectuals.
I’m doing this already for intellectuals at Duke University, the University of Maryland, Clemson University, and other colleges and universities around the world, which receive funding from me personally or from the Prometheus Foundation. But what I have in mind here is much larger.
The purpose of this post is to raise questions and begin a discussion toward the establishment of an Ayn Rand Scholarship Foundation. This could be separate from the Prometheus Foundation and dedicated to scholarships and academic grants.
One of the most successful and well-known scholarship programs in the world is the Rhodes Scholarship, which is an international post-graduate program for top students to study at the University of Oxford in England. It’s a highly competitive scholarship with an acceptance rate of about 1%. Roughly 90 scholarships are given annually. The Rhodes Scholarship covers tuition and all other expenses, including flights to and from the U.K., for at least two years at Oxford. Students can use the funds toward a second bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or a doctoral degree in a variety of subjects.
My proposed Rand Scholarship Foundation would aspire to (eventually) become as well-known and as large as the Rhodes Scholarship Trust. This would take many years; however, I think it would be one of the most effective, long-range ways to advance Objectivism. To begin with, it could offer a dozen or more scholarships each year and build up to many dozens or scores of scholarships annually—even hundreds! 😊
Each scholarship could range from approximately $25,000 to $75,000 per year. It could include tuition, fees, and living expenses. The students would commit to studying Ayn Rand’s works, starting with Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, The Virtue of Selfishness, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, The Romantic Manifesto, and A Companion to Ayn Rand. And they would take Leonard Peikoff’s courses, such as “Foundations of Western Philosophy: Thales to Hume,” “Modern Philosophy, Kant to the Present,” “Introduction to Logic,” “Objective Communication,” “The Philosophy of Objectivism,” “Understanding Objectivism,” and “Objectivism Through Induction.” Students would also study his books with an emphasis on OPAR.
The Rand Scholarship Foundation would be international. Initially, the scholarships might be limited to students of philosophy, or it could also be open to students in psychology, political science, business, and economics who have demonstrated rationality, purposefulness, and productiveness. An Awards Committee would receive and vet applications using SAT/GRE scores, an essay of intent/purpose, transcripts, resumes, and/or references.
As the number of students receiving scholarships grows, the Foundation could foster relationships with study partners, mentors, and tutors, thus creating a worldwide cooperative intellectual community. This is already occurring to some degree through the Prometheus Network in Europe and America. But the Rand Scholarship would expand upon it.
If you’re interested in being part of this program, whether by contributing specialized knowledge or skills, participating in the staffing of the scholarship program, or simply by offering ideas, I’d love to hear from you—feel free to comment below.
These are some of the questions to be answered:
- Should the program be for PhDs, Masters students, undergrads, or everyone?
- Should it include a MacArthur Grant-type program for academics?
- Should it include joint grants that pair a student with a professor or mentor?
- What should be the qualifying criteria for scholarships and academic grants?
- Which knowledgeable firm or individual could help to establish the foundation?
- Is there someone in our community who would want to lead the establishment of it and/or run it? Or participate as a trustee or director?
- How much funding would it initially need? I would fund it with $10 million to start with. Later, it could be open to funding from others.
- What are the best ways to publicize scholarships to students and academics worldwide?
- What should be the criteria for accepting a host university? My thought is that, unlike the Rhodes Scholarship which is limited to Oxford, the Rand Scholarship would be applicable toward education at a variety of universities worldwide.
There are many more questions as well, but these should begin a discussion.
I welcome your thoughts and ideas regarding this program.