University of Notre Dame Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s “Natural Law and the American Order” Conference

The University of Notre Dame’s chapter of the Network of enlightened Women is proud to have recently supported the campus’s Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s (ISI) “Natural Law and the American Order” conference on campus. The conference took place from February 11th – 12th and was aimed at surveying the intersection between the American Founding, Natural Law, and Conservatism. Those in attendance were students and academics from Notre Dame, Louisiana State University (LSU), Hillsdale College, and the University of Dallas.

The ISI conference was kicked off Friday night with a lecture by the Honorable Paul Ray, who is the director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation. Ray, who served as the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) during the Trump administration, spoke on “In Defense of American Locality: The Necessary Future of the Administrative State.”

Saturday morning began with a panel discussion between Professor James Stoner from LSU and Professor Sherif Girgis from the Notre Dame Law School. Stoner is known for his work in political theory, English common law, and American constitutionalism while Sherif’s interests lie at the intersection of philosophy and law. The two academics explored and walked the audience through the relationship between natural law and common law.

A second panel featured Professors Khalil Habib and Adam Carrington from Hillsdale. Focusing on the founding, Habib and Carrington followed the philosophical roots that ran between the European tradition and the American experiment. The afternoon consisted of a third panel, which hosted Gabrielle Girgis, a Postdoctoral Teaching Scholar with Notre Dame’s Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government, and Professor Daniel Burns from the University of Dallas. The two honed in on threats to the American project, with Girgis focusing her talk on the legal challenges and Professor Burns on the growing threat of secularization. Following these panels, students and participants had the chance to engage with each other and the conference’s topics through small seminar discussions.

The ISI conference wrapped up its weekend with a final panel discussion on Saturday night. The panel featured Professors Girgis, Stoner, and Burns and was moderated by Notre Dame Professor Phillip Munoz. Known for his work on constitutional law and the American Founding, Professor Munoz is the Director of the Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government at Notre Dame.

NeW at Notre Dame was honored to co-host this conference and learn more about the American Founding, Natural Law, and Conservatism. Aviva Lund, Chapter President of NeW at Notre Dame, expressed that “It was such an honor to be able to discuss the practical implications of Natural Law as the foundation of our nation’s constitution and political design with leading conservative intellectuals and visiting students! Can’t wait for the next conference.”



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