Institute for Humane Studies

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The Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) is a non-profit hosted by George Mason University that acts as a libertarian recruitment firm, identifying, developing, and supporting "talented students, scholars, and other intellectuals who share an interest in liberty and in advancing the principles and practice of freedom," according to its mission statement.[1] The IHS has close ties to billionaire Charles Koch, who has funded the Institute since the late 1960s.[2]

According to its website, the IHS awards more than $1,000,000 in scholarships to students from universities around the world.[1] However, its tax filings from 2010-2012 report giving around $700,000-$800,000 in scholarship grants each year.[3]

Along with the State Policy Network,[4] the IHS formerly hosted the Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program, a paid summer public policy internship for undergraduate and graduate students funded by the Charles G. Koch Foundation.[5] IHS is an "associate" member of the State Policy Network.[6]

Koch Wiki

The Koch brothers -- David and Charles -- are the right-wing billionaire co-owners of Koch Industries. As two of the richest people in the world, they are key funders of the right-wing infrastructure, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the State Policy Network (SPN). In SourceWatch, key articles on the Kochs include: Koch Brothers, Koch Industries, Americans for Prosperity, American Encore, and Freedom Partners.

Ties to the Koch Brothers

Charles Koch is the chairman of the Institute's board of directors. The board also includes longtime Koch insider Richard Fink, who is an executive vice president of Koch Industries.[7]

Koch operative Eric O'Keefe is also a board member of the IHS,[8] and O'Keefe's former group, the Sam Adams Alliance, was affiliated with the Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program, formerly hosted at the IHS.[9] O'Keefe has also served on the board of the Koch-founded Cato Institute, and under his leadership, the Wisconsin Club for Growth has received large amounts of funding from Koch-linked groups, including the Center to Protect Patient Rights, now known as American Encore.[10]

The IHS has received millions of dollars in funding from the Koch family foundations and from the Koch-linked DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund.

IHS staffers have participated in Koch network summit meetings, including Chad Thevenot and Marty Zupan.


The IHS was started in 1961 by F. A. "Baldy" Harper. It was originally located near San Francisco in Menlo Park, California, but in 1985 moved to its current home at George Mason University in Virginia.[1]

Harper founded the IHS as a successor to his projects for the William Volker Fund from which he was sacked.[12] The IHS inherited Volker's staff, approach, and the strategy of its directors, Loren Miller and Herb Cornuelle. Other founding members (who had also been associated with the Volker Fund) included Leonard P. Liggio, George Reach, Kenneth S. Templeton, Jr., and Dr. Neil McLeod; and among the earliest business supporters of the IHS were R. C. Hoiles, J. Howard Pew, Howard Buffet, William L. Law, and Pierre Goodrich.[13]

According to an Atlas Network press release, in 1995, IHS was in the same building near George Mason University at "4084 University Drive" in Fairfax as Atlas Economic Research Foundation, the Locke Institute, the Center for Market Processes, which became the Mercatus Center, and the Science and Environmental Policy Project.[14]

Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program

The IHS formerly hosted the Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program, a paid summer internship for undergraduate and graduate students.[5] The program is now hosted by the Charles Koch Institute.[15] The program places each intern at one of some 80 partner organizations, which include the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Institute for Justice, and the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, among many others.[16]


According to Jane Mayer,

"The aim of the IHS was to cultivate and subsidize a farm team of the next generation's libertarian scholars. Anxious at one point that the war of ideas was proceeding too slowly, Charles reportedly demanded better metrics with which to monitor students' political views. To the dismay of some faculty members, applicants' essays had to be run through computers in order to count the number of times they mentioned the free-market icons Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman. Students were tested at the beginning and the end of each week for ideological improvement."[17]


Florida Welfare Drug Testing Law (2014)

In January 2014, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow claimed that the Koch brothers were connected to a Florida law, since declared unconstitutional, that required drug testing for welfare recipients. Maddow stated that the Florida Foundation for Government Accountability, which advocated for the law, had participated in the Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program when it was affiliated with the Institute for Humane Studies.[18] In a statement published on its "" website, Koch Industries denied Maddow's claim, writing that "we were not involved with the Florida law concerning drug testing of welfare recipients, she claimed otherwise on her show."[19]

The fact-checking website Politifact reported that Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who had proposed the law, had attended Koch network donor meetings and gave a keynote address at a meeting for Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-led group. It also found that "there are some connections between Koch and the Foundation for Government Accountability," which has received funding from the State Policy Network, to which the Kochs have donated. However, since many of the funding ties between the Kochs and the Foundation for Government Accountability were indirect or passed through "donor-advised" funders like DonorsTrust, Politifact concluded that these connections were "not enough to declare the Foundation for Government Accountability a Koch affiliate," and so rated Maddow's claim "mostly false," adding, "Part of that may be the fault of the system, which allows donors to largely remain anonymous, and shuttle money through shadow groups."[20]

Support for Climate Change Denial

Greenpeace has reported that "several prominent climate change deniers have prominent positions at IHS," including Robert Bradley and Fred Singer, and others have been invited as guest lecturers, including Bruce Yandle and Kenneth Green.[21]

According to Mother Jones, the Institute for Humane Studies gave a scholarship to Polish conservative and climate change skeptic Tomasz Teluk. Teluk founded the Polish libertarian think-tank the Globalization Institute, which has received funding from the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.[22] The Atlas Foundation is a Koch brothers-funded research foundation and an SPN associate member.

Documents Contained at the Anti-Environmental Archives
Documents written by or referencing this person or organization are contained in the Anti-Environmental Archive, launched by Greenpeace on Earth Day, 2015. The archive contains 3,500 documents, some 27,000 pages, covering 350 organizations and individuals. The current archive includes mainly documents collected in the late 1980s through the early 2000s by The Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research (CLEAR), an organization that tracked the rise of the so called "Wise Use" movement in the 1990s during the Clinton presidency. Access the index to the Anti-Environmental Archives here.

Other Activities, a project of the IHS, is a website which quizzes users on their political values, then assigns them a position on a two-dimensional plot rather than a left-right spectrum.

In 2013, the Institute for Humane Studies launched EDvantage, which is described on its website as a "curriculum hub for pioneering educators."[23]


The Institute receives funding from a number of large libertarian and right-wing foundations, including the Koch Family Foundations, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and Richard Scaife's Carthage Foundation and Sarah Scaife Foundation.[11]

The top ten overall contributors to IHS have been:

Core Financials


  • Total Revenue: $11,516,532
  • Total Expenses: $11,310,800
  • Net Assets: $4,945,849


  • Total Revenue: $10,540,894
  • Total Expenses: $11,236,296
  • Net Assets: $3,811,806


  • Total Revenue: $9.904,619
  • Total Expenses: $8,632,911
  • Net Assets: $4,468,456


  • Total Revenue: $6,991,141
  • Total Expenses: $7,022,506
  • Net Assets: 3,212,818



As of June 2016:[27]

  • Marty Zupan, President and CEO. In 2012, Zupan earned $264,307 in compensation from the IHS.[3]
  • Chad Thevenot, Executive Director
  • Chris Wolske, Senior Director of IT
  • Courtney Derr, Senior Director of Student Programs
  • Daniel Butler, Director of Development
  • Gary Leff, Chief Financial Officer
  • Jason Ross, Senior Director of Faculty Relations
  • Scott Barton, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications
  • Todd Hathaway, Chief Operating Officer

Previous presidents include David Nott of the Reason Foundation

Board of Directors

As of June 2014:[7]

Contact Information

Institute for Humane Studies
at George Mason University
3301 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 440
Arlington VA 22201
tel: 703.993.4880 / 800.697.8799
fax: 703.993.4890
web site:

Related SourceWatch articles

Related Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Institute for Humane Studies, History and Mission, organizational website, accessed July 8, 2014.
  2. Lisa Graves, "The Koch Cartel: Their Reach, Their Reactionary Agenda, and Their Record," The Progressive, July/August 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Institute for Humane Studies, 2012 IRS form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed July 8, 2014.
  4. State Policy Network, SPN / IHS Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program, organizational website, accessed July 2014.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Institute for Humane Studies, "Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program," organizational website, accessed May 27, 2014.
  6. State Policy Network, Directory, State Policy Network, 2016.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Guidestar, Institute for Humane Studies, self-reported data. Accessed June 10, 2014.
  8. Brendan Fischer, "Bradley Foundation Bankrolled Groups Pushing Back on Scott Walker’s John Doe Criminal Probe," Express Milwaukee, June 25, 2014. Accessed July 8, 2014.
  9. Alex Brant-Zawadzki and Dawn Teo, "Anatomy of the Tea Party Movement: Sam Adams Alliance," Huffington Post, December 11, 2009. Accessed July 30, 2014.
  10. Lisa Kaiser, Exclusive: Koch Brothers’ Dark Money Flowed into Wisconsin Recall Fight, Shepherd Express, Nov 13, 2013
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Media Matters, Institute for Humane Studies, funding report, accessed July 2, 2014.
  12. Brian Doherty, [ Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement (New York:PublicAffairs), 2007, pp. 294-295.
  13. Brian Doherty, "Chapter 6: The Goldwater Movement, the Objectivist Crackup, and the Hippies of the Right," [ Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement (New York:PublicAffairs), 2007, pp. 291-388.
  14. Atlas Network, SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY PROJECT MOVES TO FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA," archived by Internet Wayback Machine, October 21, 2001. Accessed July 8, 2014.
  15. Charles Koch Institute, "Koch Summer Fellow Program." Accessed May 27, 2014.
  16. Charles Koch Institute, "Partner Organizations." Accessed May 27, 2014.
  17. Jane Mayer, [Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right], 2016.
  18. Erik Wemple, "MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow recommits to her slam on Koch brothers," The Washington Post, January 28, 2014. Accessed May 27, 2014.
  19. Koch Industries, "Rachel Maddow Deliberately Misrepresents the Facts then Refuses to Admit It," organizational website, January 6, 2014. Accessed July 8, 2014.
  20. Politifact, "Rachel Maddow claims Florida group that backs drug-testing welfare recipients is affiliated with Koch brothers," January 2, 2014. Accessed July 8, 2014.
  21., "Koch Industries Climate Denial Front Group," Accessed May 27, 2014.
  22. Josh Harkinson, "Climate Change Deniers Without Borders," Mother Jones, December 22, 2009. Accessed May 27, 2014.
  23. EDvantage, About, organizational website, accessed June 10, 2014.
  24. Institute for Humane Studies, Guidstar Financial Report, 2016.
  25. Institute for Humane Studies, 2011 IRS form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed July 8, 2014.
  26. Institute for Humane Studies, 2011 IRS form 990, organizational tax filing, accessed July 8, 2014.
  27. Institute for Humane Studies, People, organizational website. Accessed June 3, 2016.