The Athenaeum

The Athenaeum (Athena + eum) is a university center that contributes to the quality of intellectual life on campus at The University of Texas at Austin. It invites guests and hosts debates in person and online. We seek to promote civil discourse, reasoned dialogue, and the value of dissent in a dignified environment.

The Athenaeum is interdisciplinary. It is focused on how people think, speak, and approach discourse, not the specific subject matter of it. So the subjects of our events are wide-ranging; they include law, policy, philosophy, and the arts.

The Athenaeum values diversity of thought and opinion. It’s nonpartisan; it appreciates both conservative and liberal perspectives and encourages productive debate between them. The Athenaeum offers political variety and hosts guests with a range of views.

The Athenaeum means to advance the Socratic tradition of inquiry. That’s the underlying theory of the enterprise and the reason for its name. (But it’s a no-hemlock zone.) The norms of the Athenaeum are the Socratic rules of engagement explained here (pdf).

To learn more about the Athenaeum, or to support it, contact Ward Farnsworth at

Upcoming Events

May 7, 2024: The Role of the Courts, a conversation between Prof. Steve Vladeck and Jonathan Mitchell, at 7:00 p.m. at The McCullough Theater.

Athenaeum - Vladeck & Mitchell - 2024-5-7

Our Past Events