The Conceptual Educational Fellowship is a designated fund to advance educational reform by training new intellectuals who can articulate and advocate a rational approach to primary and secondary education, based on the principles of Objectivism.

To engage in educational reform is to strike at the root of cultural reform. The failure of American education was a recurrent theme in Ayn Rand’s commentary, highlighted by her 1970 exposé “The Comprachicos,” which chronicled the role of Progressive education in creating a generation of drug addicts rebelling  against reason and freedom. “It is the educational establishment that has created this national disaster,” Rand wrote. “The educational establishment has to be fought — from bottom to top, from cause to consequences, from nursery schools to universities, from basic philosophy to campus riots, from without and from within.”

Educational reform means to advance the one in the many: It is the solution to not just one area of expertise, but across all areas of expertise and human endeavor.

Program Founder

The Conceptual Education Fellowship was created by a generous gift from a dear friend of the Institute, Ed Thompson.

Mr. Thompson is alarmed about the state of American schools. He recognizes, with the Institute, that freedom will continue to decline so long as our educational system does not properly educate children. “I am passionate about reforming the educational system because I understand clearly that it is fully responsible for creating our national disaster. The Conceptual Education Fellowship is my way of galvanizing support for educational reform.”

What kind of reform? A proper education consists of a conceptual education. In her article “The Comprachicos” in 1970, Ayn Rand wrote,

The only purpose of education is to teach a student how to live his life—by developing his mind and equipping him to deal with reality. The training he needs is theoretical, i.e., conceptual. He has to be taught to think, to understand, to integrate, to prove. He has to be taught the essentials of the knowledge discovered in the past—and he has to be equipped to acquire further knowledge by his own effort.

ARI’s CEO Tal Tsfany encourages others to support this Fellowship: “The battle to reform the educational system can and must be won with ideas, with effective voices advocating a proper approach to education. This Fellowship will support the training of intellectuals in the field of education to engage in this battle.”

Program at Work

by Sam Weaver

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to build a career around figuring out and advocating for a rational, conceptual approach to education. I have interests in teaching, designing curricula, and in writing and speaking about education. Objectivists are not alone in observing that the American education system is badly broken. But I believe that Ayn Rand’s philosophy, especially her epistemology, provides a unique means to discover where the American schools go wrong and how to build better ones. This conviction is what motivated me to apply to the Conceptual Education Fellowship at the Ayn Rand Institute. 

The Conceptual Education Fellowship has given me the unique opportunity to integrate my study of education with my study of Objectivism by working directly with experts in the philosophy. It enables me to practice teaching, to get advice and feedback in my capacity as a teaching assistant in the Objectivist Academic Center, and to develop my skill at communicating ideas by writing and speaking for ARI as well as taking Objectivist Graduate Center courses covering both skills. 

Since I started the Fellowship, I have been struck by how many people have reached out to ARI and to me expressing excitement about this initiative. This includes people in both the field of education and other fields who recognize the important role education plays in the direction of a culture. Seeing so much interest and support for more work by Objectivists in education gives me confidence that we can accomplish great things that make a difference in the lives of students and the direction of the culture.


Sam Weaver holds a Conceptual Education Fellowship at ARI. He is a teaching assistant in the Objectivist Academic Center and speaks to middle and high school students. He develops educational content around Ayn Rand’s novels and writes and speaks for ARI, focusing on issues in the field of education. Sam holds a BA in English and graduated from the OAC in 2019.

How to Support the Fellowship

To support intellectuals in the battle for educational reform, click below to visit our donation page and indicate “Conceptual Education Fellowship” in the comment section.


More information is available by emailing donorservices@aynrand.org.

Prospective Conceptual Education Fellows

If you’re a student of Ayn Rand’s ideas actively planning an intellectual career who would be interested in becoming a Conceptual Education Fellow, please email oac@aynrand.org.


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