About Defining Ideas

With its distinct intellectual assets and ongoing programs of policy-oriented research, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University is a uniquely distinguished contributor to the marketplace of ideas.

Defining Ideas builds on the strength of Hoover’s research: publishing on-line the original work of Hoover fellows and affiliated scholars, as well as that of task force and working group members, whose scholarship lies within the fields of economics, history, law, and political science.

This online journal is the result of our concerted efforts to be part of America’s most important conversations, conveying to the public and to lawmakers an in-depth understanding of key public policy issues. Crucial to this effort is a commitment to develop enduring solutions for the challenges that face our nation and our world—in effect, to advance ideas defining a free society.

The mission of the Hoover Institution is to promote the principles of individual, economic and political freedom, private enterprise, and representative government. In doing so, the Institution seeks to safeguard peace, improve the human condition, and limit government intrusion into the lives of individuals.

Hoover has a broad and far-reaching program of communications, including the Hoover Press and three journals, Policy Review, Hoover Digest, and Education Next. Our fellows also publish frequent commentaries and opinion pieces in the mainstream press. Building on this profile, we have also launched a new opinion Web site, Advancing a Free Society, which will feature short commentaries from our fellowship. Defining Ideas is intended to complement these publications, offering in-depth essays that showcase the Institution’s scholarly efforts.

Further, our academic teams, organized as “virtual faculties,” build on the strength of Hoover’s research program. Scholars from within Stanford as well as other universities and research organizations collaborate with Hoover fellows on defined topics and projects.

Ten teams of scholars are envisioned, many of which are active and mature. The teams can be categorized as follows:

Three working groups based on broad scholarly disciplines:

  • National and Global Economic Markets
  • Critical Junctures in American Government and Politics
  • The Role of History in Policy Formation

Three working groups based on specific policy arenas:

  • K–12 Education
  • Health Care Policy
  • Energy Policy

Two working groups based on culture, ideology, and national security:

  • National Security and Law
  • Islamism and the International Order

Two working groups based on our founding principles:

  • Property Rights, Freedom, and Prosperity
  • Virtues of a Free Society

Throughout history, ideas have had consequences for the human condition, both beneficial and detrimental. The Hoover Institution’s working groups have been convened to promote ideas that advance freedom, peace, and prosperity. Defining Ideas is intended to illuminate the work of these groups.