“The political problem in our time is not with our politics but with our civics. Civil society is broken because tribalized social media and mercenary mainstream media are pulling us apart. We must strengthen civil society with the cement of reasoned debate.”

– Tim Kane

Vision

The Vision of The American Lyceum is to create a true marketplace of ideas. That starts with rebuilding policy debates that serve both as a platform for innovative thought leaders and as a model for future presidential debates.

Values

The Values that guide the advocacy and operations of the American Lyceum come from the roots of the U.S. civil tradition – embodied in the Constitution and the ideals of classical liberalism:

Leadership

Tim Kane

Tim is the President and co-Founder of the American Lyceum. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution and a veteran Air Force intelligence officer. Tim has been a guest on CNN, CNBC, NPR, and FOX News. His book The Immigrant Superpower was published by Oxford University Press in January 2022.

Bob Litan

Bob is a co-Founder of the American Lyceum. He is also a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, where he has previously been a Senior Fellow on staff, and Vice President and Director of Economic Studies. Bob has authored or co-authored 30 books and edited another 14. He was awarded a Ph.D. and J.D. from Yale University. His latest book is Resolved: Debate can Revolutionize Education and Help Save our Democracy.

J-P Conte

Jean-Pierre Conte is the leading Trustee of the American Lyceum. J-P also serves as the chairman and managing director of Genstar Capital, a leading middle-market private equity firm. A second-generation immigrant, American businessman, philanthropist and policy advocate, J-P has founded and funded multiple philanthropic organizations to support educational equity, immigration reform and conservation.

How it started ...

Tim Kane and Bob Litan were longtime scholars in DC who worked on opposite sides of the political spectrum in a time where ideas came first and partisanship came second. Bob is a Democrat who worked in the Clinton White House. Tim is a Republican who ran for Congress and advised numerous presidential campaigns. Bob was affiliated with left-leaning think tanks such as Brookings. Tim worked at right-leaning think tanks including Heritage and Hoover. The two economists still have different perspectives on almost every policy, but share a friendship that stretches over a decade. Indeed, they worked together for many years to promote ideas to federal lawmakers that enhance economic growth and entrepreneurship.

... from college debate ...

And, over many years and countless animated meals together, they debated. In fact, it wasn’t long before they discovered that they shared something in common: college debate. Bob was leader of the University of Kansas Debate Team in 1970s. Tim was captain of the Air Force Academy debate team in the 1980s. One of the things they also shared was a love of presidential debates, but also a shocking disappointment at the way presidential debates, especially in the primaries, devolved over the years. Here is something directly hurting civil society and failing at its mission of identifying the best leaders in a democracy.

... to the 2020 election

After the 2020 election, Tim and Bob decided to start building a new forum for debate – a kind of “TED talk for debates” that would bring three people together to search, competitively, for solutions to one problem at a time. It would welcome scholars from all corners: think tanker, academics, journalists, and even the braver elected officials. The idea of the Lyceum was born.

The Lyceum Movement

The LYCEUM of ATHENS is where Aristotle established his school thousands of years ago. That was an inspiration to the American republic in its early years.

What became known as the Lyceum Movement swept the United States in the 19th century – places for continuous, free learning for adults. These were the center of adult education long before colleges and graduate degrees were the norm. Lyceums helped launch the career of Abraham Lincoln & gave a platform to early advocates for women’s rights.

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