Bob Headshot

Robert Pasnau, Director of the Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization

Role and Mission

The Benson Center promotes critical reflection on the distinctive traditions and political perspectives that characterize Western Civilization. The Center encourages residents of Colorado and the United States to more fully understand and appreciate their past, their future and a free and creative American society within an International environment.

Integral to this mission is the Center's commitment to fostering research, debate and dialogue about the fundamental ideals of our time. Our efforts are grounded in academic research and study that foster an understanding of the historical context of Western Civilization. The Center focuses on and explores the values that grow out of historical Western traditions and trace their influence on the world, and, in particular, to study their role in the foundations and ongoing institutions of the United States.

The Center provides a forum for free and open discourse, study and research. It seeks to promote a lively and balanced conversation, ranging over both conservative and liberal ideals, to maintain the full diversity of political, economic and philosophical perspectives on the CU Boulder campus. By stressing intellectual rigor and the highest academic standards, the Center offers a venue for students, scholars and citizens of Colorado to fully understand our nation's political and cultural traditions. By focusing on the Western values of individual liberty and independence, both political and economic, the Center will provide members of the CU community, and residents of our state more generally, a place to understand the ideals that shape our understanding of an important aspect of American cultural heritage.

Fellowships and Grants

Fundamental to the Center's mission is to bring a diversity of voices into the University by sponsoring annual fellowships for scholars from other institutions, as well as some from CU. At the heart of its mission, the Center will encourage collaborative relationships with the many CU Boulder scholars who are leading figures in their fields. The Center will stimulate conversation and debate over how conservative and liberal ideologies have impacted Western traditions across a wide-range of topics--science, economics, history, literature, the arts, philosophy, law and politics--in their various ancient, medieval and modern forms.

The Center organizes an annual series of Dialogues that bring to Boulder scholars who are at the forefront of teaching and research on issues that animate contempoary debates in politics and culture. We seek to understand the values that underlie these debates and where these values come from. Through discussing these issues among a diverse group of scholars, we seek to understand the debates that run through various spheres of American society, and how conversation can yield a shared understanding of the issues that confront us.

We also fund proposals from members of the CU community that seek to promote the study of Western Civilization in any of its aspects. See the Grants page for more information.