Founded in the immediate wake of America’s dramatic 2016 presidential elections, Northern Michigan’s Center for Academic and Intellectual Freedom (C.A.I.F.) provides a unique space for thoughtful reflection and reasoned civil dialogue in a time of political polarization among mutually uncomprehending extremisms, dogmatisms, and institutionalized thought-policing. Our “Athens on the shores of Lake Superior” aims to celebrate both the love of wisdom and spirit of public liberty that animated that ancient democracy!



We promote freedom of mind and respect for individual rights, both in education and elsewhere, amidst the competing cultures of conformism typified by today’s widespread anti-intellectualism, totalitarian populism, fear of knowledge and hatred of reason.

Celebrating ethical pluralism; affirming principled cognitive ecumenism; stimulating viewpoint diversity; defending robust free speech and open inquiry in a dynamic forum adjacent to today’s dominant academic discourse (cultural relativism plus identity politics): the Center offers students, faculty, and the community at large escape from the prevailing collectivist ideology into an open horizon defined by active, critical engagement with the human inheritance, as embodied in traditions of classical liberalism and the Great Books of Western civilization.

Toward these ends…

  • We host public talks by leading scholars engaged with the urgently necessary task of redescribing and reinterpreting our shared understandings of civil society in a rapidly changing technological situation and fluid cultural context. In this regard, “the more things change, the more we remain the same”—in the sense that the C.A.I.F. stands for ongoing, deep engagement with the timeless inheritance of Western civilization as the greatest resource for coping with an oftentimes bewildering contemporary reality.
  • We provide special seminars for students and faculty to productively engage with premier intellectuals and authors of major works on the state of our nation and the world today. #OpenInquiry is the name of the game at these events, where thoughtful dialogue is the rule.
  • We put on debates between exemplary thinkers exploring inescapable social, political, and economic questions of unparalleled import. #ViewpointDiversity is our watchword!
  • Our purpose is helping to renew liberal education and freedom of mind for a generation and in a time that desperately needs it.
  • On this website, you will find a record of past C.A.I.F. events and information about upcoming ones.
  • As of now, all that’s missing is your voice… So please come to our events and discover a rare and uniquely valuable experience of participation in robust free speech and dialogue about the pressing issues of our day and the great themes of Western Civilization!
  • To get on our mailing list and receive updates about forthcoming events, please click the Contact tab above.



Douglas Murray Explains the Rise of Islam in Europe and its effects on Israel, in a discussion led by Gadi Taub

“Israel is Still Living in History”
CAIF Senior Research Fellow, Gadi Taub, recently moderated a discussion between The Spectator Associate Editor and author, Douglas Murray; Ariel University Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, Dr. Dina Lisnyansky; and Director of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa, Dr. Dan Scheuftan. Convened at Tel Aviv University, in Israel, the panel explored themes of nationalism and multiculturalism, as they relate to Islam, Europe and Israel, which Murray presents in his book, The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam. Taub and the others also deliberated over the source of a unified European identity, separate from populism, and what role truth-telling plays in constructing a national, sociopolitical narrative. According to Murray, the difference between the European and the Israeli ethos relates to a perception of “people living after” or “people living in” history. “Obviously modern Europe is the clearest example of a people who think they’re living after history, that is after historical events,” Murray said. Adding that, “Israel is clearly still living in history,” he stressed “that means you know things can still happen, you still have things to fight for.” According to Taub, a united, liberal elite is to blame for propagating populism in the West because it attacks “democracy by delegitimizing nationalism” and, with it, the nation state. “Europeans are overestimating their own tolerance and then reacting violently,” Taub said. “My fear is not just that European culture is committing suicide or going down, but that its resurgence may indeed be dangerous and violent.”



The Public Liberty Podcast, Episode 3: Benny Morris on the Future of the Armenian Genocide — Ethnic Cleansing of Christians, ‘Islamophobia’ and The Middle East Conflict

About the episode: “Benny Morris on the Future of the Armenian Genocide — Ethnic Cleansing of Christians, ‘Islamophobia’ and The Middle East Conflict,” with Benny Morris. On the eve of the April 2019 Israeli legislative election, Don Q. and Sancho sit down with eminent Israeli historian Benny Morris to discuss Morris’ new book, co-authored with Dror Zeevi, The Thirty-Year Genocide: Turkey’s Destruction of its Christian Minorities, 1894 – 1924, and to …
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The Public Liberty Podcast, Episode 2: The Alt-Right, Far Left and the Jews — Ronald Beiner’s Dangerous Mind

About the episode: “The Alt-Right, Far Left and the Jews — Ronald Beiner’s Dangerous Mind,” with Ronald Beiner. Joined by professor Jonathan Allen, Don Q. and Sancho sit down with Canadian political theorist Ronald Beiner to discuss Beiner’s new book, Dangerous Minds: Nietzsche, Heidegger, and the Return of the Far Right, and to explore the radicalism of theory, how the intellectual left has advanced alt-right ideologies, the global right, contemporary anti-semitism …
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The Public Liberty Podcast, Episode 1: Peace and Intellectual Freedom in the Middle East

About the episode: “Peace and Intellectual Freedom in the Middle East,” with Asaf Romirowsky. We put together this first episode of the Public Liberty Podcast with rubber bands, chewing gum, paperclips and one microphone for three people. Still, we’re very proud of the results. In this inaugural edition of the PLP, Don Q. and Sancho sit down with Dr. Romirowsky to explore root causes of ongoing tensions between Israelis and …
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Safe Space for Intellectual Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity?

The academic year 2016-17 saw a spike in illiberal repression of speech on American college campuses. Six eminent professors, alumni of Middlebury College, spoke out when the violence came to their alma mater. In doing so, they helped inspire the CAIF’s mission, exemplifying our shared values in an eloquent statement. They wrote, on June 1, 2017, in Real Clear Politics: As university professors and administrators, we are deeply concerned with …
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Democracy for Me But Not for Thee: I’ll Take That as a No…

By Guest Blogger, Prof. Gregory Lobo, Department of Languages and Culture, University of the Andes, Bogota, Colombia. Lobo is currently the 2018-19 International Scholars at Risk Program Fellow at the CAIF. I watched in dismay recently as Rep. Ilhan Omar, the freshman Democratic Congresswoman from Minneapolis, in effect provided cover—whether she knew it or not—for Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro, on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. While some …
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Reforming Campus Speech Codes: Don’t Wait for an Executive Order

By Guest Blogger Timothy Eggert, Research Assistant and Undergraduate Fellow, the CAIF President Trump teased an executive order on Saturday, speaking to activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference. As he told the crowd at CPAC, he plans to issue an order to help guarantee free speech at colleges and universities—threatening to withhold their federal aid if they do not protect the viewpoints held by students of all political ideologies. …
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