The Values & Capitalism Summer Honors Program is a series of fully-funded, intensive, one-week seminars in Washington, DC for Christian college students. The program gives students an unparalleled chance to immerse themselves in a particular area of study with leading scholars and policy practitioners. In selective cohorts of 20–25 students, participants will attend a day of core lectures and four days of smaller, discussion-based classes focusing on various topics related to public policy, economics, law, and faith. The honors program will also offer opportunities for students to sharpen professional skills through career coaching, site visits, and networking events.

Washington, DC

June 5–9 or June 19–23, 2017

Housing, meals on class days, travel, and $250 for expenses during the week.

All students who apply for the V&C Summer Honors Program will automatically be considered for admission to the 2017 V&C Summer Conference and do not need to apply for both opportunities. To read more about this conference, visit our event page here.

Questions? Contact V&C Program Associate Tatenda Mabikacheche at Tatenda.Mabikacheche@aei.org

We are no longer accepting applications for this program.
Applications will open for the 2018 V&C Summer Honors Program in late 2017.

Candidates may apply to join one of four tracks:

TERM 1: JUNE 5–9, 2017

Track A:
International Economic Development: Why Institutions Matter
Stephen Smith, Hope College

Course summary:
The past 50 years have seen tremendous material progress in much of the developing world, epitomized by the fact that global absolute poverty is now at a historic low. But progress has been uneven, crisis-filled, and in some cases, stalled. Policy choices, particularly between market-led and state-led approaches to development, remain contentious. In this seminar, participants will analyze the current evidence and various viewpoints about economic development and growth. Participants will discuss the roles (and challenges) of enlisting aid, the rule of law, and trade and foreign direct investment to advance development. They will also explore China’s promotion of state-led capitalism, as well as consider how best to address environmental problems. Finally, the course includes discussion of Christ-centered microfinance—business training, discipleship, loans, and savings—and its role in helping the poorest communities break cycles of physical and spiritual poverty.

Dr. Stephen L.S. Smith is professor of economics at Hope College, and is currently serving as the Values & Capitalism Visiting Professor for the 2016–2017 academic year. He is also the co-author of Economic Growth: Unleashing the Potential of Human Flourishing (AEI Press, 2013).

Track B:
The Morality of Democratic Capitalism: Principles & Practices
Michael Strain, American Enterprise Institute

Course summary:
What are the principles that underlie our most controversial economic debates? Why does the left tend to focus on income inequality, raising the minimum wage, and government intervention, while the right focuses on growth, taxes, and the private sector? What are the inherent tradeoffs in each? Through this course, students will come to understand these and many other aspects of domestic macroeconomic policy. From Adam Smith, to John Maynard Keynes, to Friedrich Hayek, participants in this session will come away with a deeper understanding of the role of economic policy and a newfound respect for the complex decisions that policymakers must face.

Dr. Michael R. Strain is director of economic policy studies and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. His research interests include labor economics, applied microeconomics, public finance, and social policy.

TERM 2: JUNE 19–23, 2017

Track A:
Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference
John Inazu, Washington University School of Law

Course summary:
The reality of America’s increasingly pluralistic society challenges our vision for “a more perfect union.” Is it possible to live together peacefully in spite of deep and sometimes irresolvable differences over politics, religion, sexuality, and other important matters? In this seminar, participants will consider the constitutional commitments and civic practices that could allow us to survive—and even thrive, despite our differences.

Dr. John Inazu is the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law & Religion at Washington University School of Law. He is the author of Liberty’s Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly (Yale University Press, 2012), as well as Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference (University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Track B:
K-12 Education: The Foundation of American Democracy, Society, and Economy
Michael McShane, Show-Me Institute and AEI

Course summary:
Since the first public education law was drafted in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1647, America’s K-12 education has developed in a haphazard and decentralized fashion. Today, more than 100,000 public schools in 14,000 districts educate over 50 million school children, not to mention the 6,800+ charter schools, tens of thousands of private schools, and millions of families who home-school their children. It is a complex web of organizations and institutions that forms the bedrock of our democracy, our society, and our economy. In this seminar, students will discuss the origins of the American education system, debate its purpose, learn about issues facing it today and tomorrow, and discuss potential improvements.

Dr. Michael Q. McShane is an adjunct fellow in education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and director of education policy at the Show-Me Institute, where he studies and writes about K–12 education policy, including private and religious schools and the politics of education. He was previously a high school teacher.


  • Applicants must be current undergraduates. Preference will be given to rising juniors and seniors, and to students who have not previously participated in the summer honors program.
  • Applicants planning to take other jobs or internships during the summer are eligible and encouraged to apply
  • Applicants may be accepted to the V&C Summer Honors Program OR the AEI Summer Honors Program, but not both.
  • Applicants must have a brief recommendation from a faculty member at their college or university.
  • International students are eligible.

Application Instructions:

  • Applicants must submit a resume, unofficial transcripts and a cover letter explaining 1) their interest in public policy and economics and 2) why they want to be a Values & Capitalism Summer Honors Program student.
  • Applicants must secure a recommendation from a faculty member at their college or university in order to apply. Faculty members may submit their recommendations online at this link.
  • Applications will only be accepted to one of the four available tracks, but can apply to be considered for several. Students will list their course preferences on their application.

“I loved everything about this program and found it to be an invaluable experience for me professionally and personally. I really respect that AEI provided us with a plethora of different viewpoints on policies so that we could weigh each policy option ourselves before making a judgment.”

“The program really helped me clarify some of my values, some of which I didn’t even realize how strongly I felt about. I learned a lot, and I feel like my passion for international development has been further confirmed.”

“I thought I was going to be a token Democrat in the program, and came not expecting to make any friends because of my political beliefs. I was very surprised—it turned out to be one of the best weeks of my summer and I made so many good friends.”

“I love this program and feel honored to have been a part of it. I am very thankful that there are institutes like AEI who value supporting the next generation of professionals.”

“The students in the program were all charitable in their interactions.
Everyone was kind and open to discussion.”