CLEMSON — You’d think learning about the moral foundations of capitalism would be the furthest thing from an 18-year-old’s mind. For most incoming college freshmen that may be true, but not for 11 Lyceum Scholars about to embark on their college careers at Clemson University.

This select group of students, all with high academic qualifications, is the first full class of Lyceum Scholars to enter a unique intellectual community offered by the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism (CISC). Each student will receive a $10,000 scholarship over their four years at Clemson and learn about liberty, free markets and moral character through a structured, innovative curriculum.

Justin Giles

Justin Giles

The 2015-16 Lyceum Scholars are: Nathaniel Brown, Simpsonville; Christian Jones, Fort Mill; Brendan McNeely, Greenville; Lindsey Sinisi, Goose Creek; Justin Giles, Charlotte, North Carolina; Graham Pitman, Duncan; Samuel Thompson, Seneca; Ryan Pregitzer, Chesapeake, Virginia; Gabriella Wheeler, Chester; Mason Rajaee, Greenville; and Michael Staines, Potomac, Maryland.

Incoming Lyceum Scholar Justin Giles sees the program as an opportunity to prepare him for better-informed decision making on issues important in his life.

“I think it’s important to have a solid grasp on the concept of capitalism, but it’s more than that. In order to make good decisions in life, whether they’re personal, about economics or politics, you need to develop the skills necessary to reach solid conclusions. I think the Lyceum program will help in developing those skills that will better prepare me for life,” Giles said.

Nearly 200 students applied for entry into the 2015-16 program. The scholars were selected on academic aptitude and a demonstrated ability to thrive.

“The Lyceum Scholars program is unlike any other at a U.S. university,” said Brad Thompson, executive director of the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism. “This is learning in a close-knit community with others who share their interests. Learning about liberty, free markets the American Founding and moral character is accomplished through a ‘Great Books’ approach versus traditional textbooks.”

The Lyceum Scholars program draws on the inspiration of the Lyceum school founded by Aristotle in 335 B.C. Students read from classic texts about renowned academics in political and economic thought. Lyceum students are assigned faculty Socratic tutors to create one-on-one mentorships that help them apply the ideas they learn to their everyday living.

Another new scholar, Gabriella Wheeler, believes Lyceum’s Great Books philosophical approach to learning will help shape her into becoming a deeper person and be an asset in whatever career she chooses.

Gabriella Wheeler

Gabriella Wheeler

“The study of capitalism at face value seems simple, but it’s also a study of history, human nature, the origins of morals themselves and, even more fascinating, it’s a study of ideas — what propels history. No matter what I choose to do with my life, having explored the many questions that will be posed to me through the curriculum, I will have a stronger basis for thinking, which is a definite asset in any career.”

Thompson said the Lyceum Scholars program shies away from academic learning fads with a structured, philosophical learning environment that helps students discover their passions and opens doors to opportunities.

“Through this community of learning, lifelong friendships are formed and at the end of their study students have developed the skills necessary to be serious thinkers, articulate speakers and eloquent writers,” Thompson said. “These skills open doors to career opportunities, including think tanks, policy centers, foundations and civic affairs, to name a few.”

Due to overwhelming response to the Lyceum Scholars program, the institute established a companion, non-scholarship track called the Lyceum Fellows, which will be open to all Clemson students. Combined, Clemson expects to have up to 40 Lyceum Scholars and Fellows entering the first full class of the program this fall.

“The response to this innovative approach to studying about ideas and institutions of a free society is a clear indication that young people want to think seriously, and deeply, about their moral character and all that has made our country so irreplaceably unique,” Thompson said.

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Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism
CISC is America’s first and only university-based research and teaching center devoted to exploring the moral, legal, political and economic foundations of capitalism. The institute, founded in 2005, educates a new generation of students about the moral requirements of a free society.

The institute celebrates businessmen and women and their enormous contributions. Academic programs recognize the moral right of business to produce, trade, and profit from their activities without government interference.

The institute is independently financed. Neither Clemson, nor taxpayers, support the institute or the Lyceum Scholars program financially.