Objective Standard Institute’s Terrific 2022

by and | Nov 30, 2022 | OSI Events

Objective Standard Institute (OSI) has had a wonderfully productive year teaching the rising generation about the importance of philosophy, principles of Objectivism, and related ideas for living fully and advancing liberty. (You can support our work here.)

We’d like to share some highlights.

OSI Courses

Since January, OSI’s instructors have taught a dozen in-depth courses (ranging from six to twenty-four hours in length) to a total of 349 students. These include:

  • Ayn Rand’s Morality for Life, Liberty, and Happiness;
  • How to “Read” and Enjoy Paintings;
  • The History and Philosophy of Liberty in America;
  • Ayn Rand Integrations: Aristotle, Locke, Reid, and Herbert;
  • Reading groups on Ayn Rand’s The Virtue of Selfishness, The Romantic Manifesto, The Fountainhead; and Philosophy: Who Needs It;
  • Ayn Rand Integrations: Nietzsche, Emerson, Montessori, Ibsen;
  • Defending Free Speech in Dangerous Times;
  • Six Perspectives on Writing in Defense of Liberty; and
  • Teaching Objectivism with the Principle of Purpose.

Here’s an indication of what students gain from our courses:

“OSI’s courses have helped me tremendously by improving my clarity of thinking.” —Mark

“I’ve progressed at such a rapid pace that I can’t compare myself now and myself before my involvement with OSI.” —Milica

“All the classes along with the material provided have been beneficial to my growth and my pursuit of personal flourishing.” —Lizeth

“This course touched every intellectual aspect of my life.” —Nick

“Thank you for making such a valuable contribution to my life!” —Azat

A list with descriptions of OSI’s past and upcoming courses can be found here.

Conferences

OSI’s most recent summer conference, TOS-Con 2022 (Denver, CO, June 22–25), was our largest to date, with 400 attendees. Speakers included Craig, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Timothy Sandefur, Yeonmi Park, Eric Daniels, Peter Boghossian, Amala Ekpunobi, Jon Hersey, Greg McKeown, Wolf von Laer, Jason Crawford, Jon Wos, Zilvinas Silenas, and Adam Carolla.

Presentations covered a wide-range of topics, among them: “Free Will and Flourishing”; “Music, Mind, and Morality”; “Why and How to Do a Few Things Superbly”; and “The Future of Civilized Society.” Evening events included karaoke, salsa dancing, comedy, late-night conversations, and the forging of friendships for life.

Here’s what attendees said about the event:

“This conference changed my perspective on life, the world, and how I think about things.” —Kiyah

“I haven’t been this excited or this inspired to create in a long time.” —John

“I’ve attended four philosophy conferences in recent years, and this was the first time I have seen so many young people!” —Ricardo

“My life was made richer by the people I met.” —Rodney

“It was worthwhile three times over.” —Seamus

“It was truly life-changing.” —Ella

You can watch a short video about the conference here.

In addition to speaking at OSI’s own conferences, our intellectuals frequently speak at other philosophic and liberty-oriented events around the world. We love these engagements, as they enable us to reach active-minded young people we otherwise might not reach—many of whom soon enroll in our courses, attend our conferences, or apply for OSI internships. Here are highlights from a few of these events:

The 110 attendees at the New Intellectuals Conference (NICON), hosted by Ayn Rand Center Europe (Prague, April 18–22), were a select group of students from ARCE’s John Galt Schools in Europe and Asia. OSI fellow Angelica Walker-Werth spoke on “Howard Roark as an Exemplar of Independence in the Social Media Age”; OSI fellow Thomas Walker-Werth spoke on “Objectivism as a Philosophy for Self-Development”; and Craig spoke on “Objectivism and Independence.”

At LibertyCon Europe, hosted by Students for Liberty (SFL) (Prague, April 23–24), Craig spoke on “Ayn Rand’s Philosophy for Freedom and Flourishing,” and OSI along with our sister organization, The Objective Standard, tabled and handed out 300 booklet essays about rational philosophy, Objectivism, and related ideas for freedom and flourishing. These included:

  • “Libertarianism vs. Radical Capitalism”
  • “Individualism vs. Collectivism: Our Future, Our Choice”
  • “Secular, Objective Morality: Look and See”
  • “Ayn Rand’s Theory of Rights”
  • “Economics in Atlas Shrugged
  • “Purpose Comes from Reason, Not Religion”
  • “The Assault on Corporations”
  • “Heroes and Villains in American Education”
  • “Heroes and Villains in Philosophy” and 
  • “Reason vs. Mysticism: Truth and Consequences.”

In the weeks after LibertyCon Europe, Craig spoke at several Free Market Road Show events throughout Europe, engaging with hundreds more young people, many of whom are now participating in OSI programs.

At FreedomFest (Las Vegas, July 13–16), Craig joined Wolf von Laer (CEO of Students for Liberty) for a panel discussion about SFL’s Prometheus Fellowship program. This program, which is funded by a $2.3 million grant from Carl Barney’s Prometheus Foundation, is a four-year intensive study of Ayn Rand’s philosophy for SFL’s top students and coordinators from around the world. The first cohort of 50 fellows began last spring, and a new cohort of 50 will begin each spring moving forward. The fellows read Rand’s works, listen to Leonard Peikoff’s courses, discuss the ideas in study groups, write papers and give presentations about what they’ve learned, and apply principles of Objectivism in their lives and advocacy of liberty. OSI advises SFL on this program and provides teachers for its seminars and mentors for its fellows. It’s a beautiful program, and we are honored to help SFL teach these exceptional young people about Rand’s ideas.

At LibertyCon International, hosted by SFL (Miami, October 14–15), Craig gave a presentation on “Philosophy for Freedom Fighters” (about Rand’s moral and philosophical ideas in support of liberty), and he and Carl Barney held a Q&A session for SFL’s Prometheus Fellows. OSI fellow Jon Hersey gave a presentation on “Reason, Republicans, and the Future of Freedom” (about the nature and threat of national conservatism) and taught a seminar on “Writing Powerfully in Defense of Liberty.” OSI and TOS tabled at the event, distributing 400 booklet essays on Objectivism and related ideas for defending liberty.

At Battle of Ideas (London, October 15–16), Angelica participated in a panel discussion on the question, “Have We Fallen Out of Love with Work?”; Thomas participated in a discussion titled, “Apollo to Elon Musk: The New Frontiers of Space”; and OSI distributed 195 enlightening essays.

Jon Hersey is currently in South America, where he’s speaking at SFL’s LibertyCon Brazil on “Free Speech in the 21st Century” and on “Individualism vs. Collectivism”—and delivering eight additional talks at events throughout the country.

In addition to the engagements mentioned above, OSI intellectuals gave dozens more presentations in 2022 (online or in person) to various youth and student groups around the world, including SFL, John Galt Schools, Foundation for Economic Education, Liberty International, and Free Market Road Show. Such engagements advance OSI’s mission, attract young people to our courses and conferences, and generate high-quality applications for our internship program.

OSI’s Internship Program

Our internship program is for highly intelligent, active-minded young people who are interested in a career advancing the ideas on which freedom and flourishing depend. Since we announced the program in September, we’ve received scores of applications from young people all over the world, and we’ve awarded eleven internships to date. The interns join OSI in cohorts of three for three months at a time, after which, if the fit is right, they can renew their internship or join OSI as a full- or part-time junior fellow.

OSI’s first three interns, Ely Lassman, Juno Ma, and Kiyah Willis, have been an absolute delight to work with. They’ve been deeply engaged, reading books and articles on philosophy and Objectivism, studying the history of philosophy, participating in weekly philosophy discussions, asking great questions, providing thoughtful answers to others’ questions, writing articles elucidating or applying philosophic principles, participating in OSI’s courses and reading groups, and getting paid to think, learn, and level up in life.

Here’s what these interns say about the program so far:

“The time spent interning at Objective Standard Institute has been incredibly rewarding. I’ve taken part in several skill development workshops, participated in many philosophical discussions, and gotten insight into the work-life of a philosopher. From these experiences, I’ve learned about the history of philosophy and the real life implications of adopting various philosophies; refined my writing skills with the guidance of OSI instructors and editors; and capitalised on many professional opportunities provided to interns.” —Ely 

“When I first began interning at OSI, I didn’t know much about Objectivism but had a thirst for learning more about individual rights, rational philosophy, and objective morality. In my short time with OSI, I’ve learned a lot about Ayn Rand and Objectivism, and gained a deeper understanding of the need for rational philosophy and fact-based perspectives on the world. Currently, I am trying to bring more logic and clarity to the political debate around gender identity, using neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and philosophy to define the relevant categories rationally. I hope to help people explore the topic objectively instead of purely emotionally or politically.”  —Kiyah 

“My internship at OSI has given me time to read, think, and write about topics I have long been interested in exploring deeply, such as how to be and make the world freer. It is great to have the resources I need, a platform I can express myself on and, most importantly, a community of thoughtful people to discuss ideas with. OSI’s practical approach to philosophy also has taught me to look at the academic philosophy I do day to day more critically, and has given me a better sense of direction in terms of what I want to achieve in university.” —Juno 

For more information on OSI’s internship program, visit our internships page.

Podcasts

OSI’s three podcasts have been chock full of practical philosophy and fuel for the soul. Here’s an indication:

On “Philosophy for Flourishing,” Jon Hersey interviewed Peter Boghossian on “Civil Discourse and Why It’s So Hard”; discussed “Sex, Attraction, and Healthy Relationships” with psychotherapist Jason Stotts; discussed “Optional Values, Career, and Hobbies” with OSI’s marketing manager and budding intellectual, Jackson Upmann; and discussed Julia Galef’s book, The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don’t.

On “The Hero Show,” Robert Begley and Andrew Bernstein celebrated heroes including Leonard Peikoff, Louis Armstrong, Jane Austen, Booker T. Washington, Mike Mentzer, The Beatles, Steve Ditko, Frederic Bastiat, J. P. Morgan, Hedy Lamarr, and Socrates.

On “Innovation Celebration,” Angelica and Thomas Walker-Werth discussed advancements in and foundational requirements of education, mental health, inventions and patents, energy production, space travel, and more. 

Listen to these and other episodes on our podcasts page.

On Solid Ground

OSI writers and guest writers in 2022 published a steady stream of articles and book reviews on our recently renamed blog, On Solid Ground (OSG). Subjects range from “Life Lessons from the Music of Rush,” to “Strategies for Becoming a Successful Freelancer,” to reviews of Kim Scott’s Radical Candor, Jocko Willink’s Extreme Ownership, and Angela Duckworth’s Grit.

Our Team

We are fortunate to work with some of the best people we have ever known. They are the reason OSI has achieved so much in so little time, and we’d like to say a few words about each of them.

Jon Hersey is a rising star who, in addition to being the managing editor of The Objective Standard, teaches writing courses and editing seminars at OSI, hosts the podcast “Philosophy for Flourishing,” speaks at conferences all over the world on subjects ranging from the philosophy of music to the trouble with national conservatism—and does all of this with the utmost independence and professionalism. Jon sets an example of what a young intellectual’s life can and should be.

Angelica Walker-Werth is another rising star. Angel manages OSI’s programs, including our courses and, increasingly, our conferences. She also develops courses, leads reading groups, strategizes about OSI’s products and procedures, co-hosts the podcast “Innovation Celebration,” speaks at conferences, and teaches seminars all over the world. Angel is mature beyond her years, has excellent judgment, and gets things done. She is a model for budding intellectuals and program managers alike.

Thomas Walker-Werth is yet another rising star. In addition to being associate editor and print-production manager of The Objective Standard, he is the managing editor of On Solid Ground, co-host of “Innovation Celebration,” producer of OSI’s (and TOS’s) booklet essays, and a speaker and teacher at seminars and conferences around the world. Thomas is a crucial member of our team and an example for burgeoning intellectuals and editors.

Jackson Upmann not only manages OSI’s marketing projects and campaigns, he also strategizes brilliantly about OSI’s products and procedures, systematizes or automates practically everything he gets his hands on, and is as thoughtful as he is benevolent. This twenty-year-old has made himself a vital member of OSI’s team and a model of what a young person can do when he chooses to use his mind, to study and research, to take risks, and to innovate. Jackson is the epitome of what we call a younger son (more on this below).

Dylan Fritts produces OSI’s graphics, podcasts, course videos, course pages, memes, promotional pamphlets, conference swag, and more. He also does market research and social media research, and strategizes about our products and how to reach and inspire our target market. Dylan is often quiet but always thinking, and when he speaks we listen.

Robert Begley keeps a log of all OSI projects and activities, and communicates with OSI’s donors and potential donors to keep them informed. He also maintains up-to-date knowledge about tax law, regulations, and opportunities regarding charitable giving, and helps donors and potential donors think through their contributions and estate planning. In addition to his work in fundraising, Robert co-hosts “The Hero Show” and speaks at conferences on Frederick Douglass, Alexander Hamilton, and other intellectual heroes. His warmth, benevolence, and attentiveness are off the scale, and we are fortunate to have him on our team.

Xavier Hart is, for lack of a better term, a roving assistant who helps OSI team members in various ways. Among other things, she assists with record keeping, course hosting, social media posting, and event planning. She is, to turn a phrase, a Jill of all trades, and she is as warmhearted as she is multi-talented. Xavier recently forayed into public speaking, recounting her experience in leaving Islam, and we are eager to see this new interest develop.

Justyna Piątek-Pawłowska, the newest member of our team, focuses on producing short videos that convey philosophic (or otherwise helpful) ideas to young audiences in ways that appeal to their values. In the month that she’s been working with us, she’s been strategizing with our team about the nature and value of short videos, and experimenting on OSI’s Instagram channel, where one of her videos currently has more than 14,000 views. In addition to her part-time work with OSI, Justyna will begin an OSI internship in January. We are delighted to have her aboard, and we look forward to seeing her soar.

OSI’s Values

The reason our team works so well together and gets so much done is that we all embrace OSI’s mission and values. These include OSI’s value-up approach (i.e., the process of meeting people at their life-serving values and helping them to grow intellectually from there), our younger-son mindset (striving always to innovate and improve), self-management, mutual encouragement, and several other key components. (We recently posted OSI’s values here, and if you read that page, we think you’ll see what makes our team excel.)

Objective Standard Institute is changing the world for the better by teaching young people about the importance of philosophy, principles of Objectivism, and related ideas for loving life and supporting liberty. And we’re just getting started.

If you would like to help us reach more young minds with these ideas, please make your most generous tax-deductible contribution today. If you’d like to discuss estate planning, please contact Robert Begley ([email protected]). And if you have any questions or want to discuss anything with us, just let us know. We’d love to schedule a call.

We wish you and your loved ones a wonderful, joy-filled holiday season. 

Warm regards,

Sarah and Craig Biddle

Contribute Now

Objective Standard Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law. OSI’s federal identification number is 84-3575279.

On Solid Ground is a community blog where we publish articles by guest contributors as well as by the staff and officers of OSI. The ideas offered by guest contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the ideas of the staff or officers of OSI. Likewise, the ideas offered by people employed by OSI are their own, and do not necessarily reflect those of others in the organization.

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