In May this year, 50 bright, active-minded men and women from 23 countries embarked on a serious study program of Ayn Rand’s books and Leonard Peikoff’s books and courses. This is the launch of the Prometheus Fellowship, initiated and funded with a $2.3 million dollar grant by my Prometheus Foundation.
Wolf Von Laer (CEO) and Kenneth Wagner (COO) of Students for Liberty have met with me over the last few years and discussed the need for a philosophic foundation for their mission of promoting liberty throughout the world.
(Mr. Von Laer and Mr. Wagner have either started or completed Leonard’s lengthy course The History of Philosophy: Founders of Western Philosophy: Thales to Hume. Wolf himself holds a PhD in philosophy and has been delighted with the clarity and integrity of Leonard’s course.)
Among the first initiatives that resulted from these meetings with Students for Liberty was a pamphlet that Craig Biddle and I wrote. Following other successful initiatives with SFL, we kicked off the ambitious Prometheus Fellowship.
The Fellowship study program lasts for two years. Each year, 50 of SFL’s top activists are selected based on their ability to express (in essay form) why they’re interested in Ayn Rand’s ideas and how they intend to apply them to their lives and careers.
In October, after participating in multiple online courses discussing essays from a vast reading list, the first cohort of over 50 Fellows arrived in Miami, Florida for the first in-person, on-the-ground seminar. I attended. The enthusiasm, the ambition, and the intelligence of the carefully selected Fellows was thrilling.
The students attended more than a dozen lectures and workshops and had ample time to engage with instructors, sparking stimulating conversations that will continue into the future. The topics included Ayn Rand’s epistemology, the virtues of black-and-white thinking, Romantic art, free speech, and praising the admirable as a matter of justice. The students’ preparatory reading list included selections from Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, For the New Intellectual, The Virtue of Selfishness, and other works.
For more details about the Prometheus Fellowship and the in-person event, see this PDF.
We are just getting started. This is a pilot program that will be expanded in the future, including to other organizations. In fact, because demand for the program among SFL members has exceeded expectations, there is already a proposal from SFL to double the number in each yearly cohort to 100. (This is in addition to other proposals in-process with SFL, which I’ll blog about later.)
Today’s students and young professionals become tomorrow’s thought-leaders. Through the Prometheus Fellowship, they will have a deeper understanding of Objectivism and be able to apply it in their chosen professions of education, law, politics, journalism, and finance.
If a small number of people adopt Objectivism, the positive change that results might be small and could take a long time to take hold. If a large number of people adopt it, that positive change could take hold much more quickly. This is precisely the point of what Prometheus and SFL are doing.
Carl B. Barney
December 22, 2022