Alexander Hamilton left an incredible legacy as a political and economic thinker. Centuries after his death, three Hamilton professors founded the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, an organization dedicated to providing innovative, educational programming about a wide range of topics. Marta Johnson ’13 spent the summer as an intern for the institute in Clinton, supported by Hamilton’s Eckman Fund through the Career Center.
“Inspired by Alexander Hamilton’s life and work, the AHI promotes excellence in scholarship through the study of freedom, democracy, and capitalism,” according to its mission statement. The Alexander Hamilton Institute was founded by Professor of History Doug Ambrose; James Bradfield, the Elias W. Leavenworth Professor of Economics; and Professor of History Robert Paquette. Johnson explains, “AHI has in the past addressed issues of government, our fundamental principles, and our culture.”
Johnson, an economics and classical studies double major, helped prepare the Institute’s 2011-12 programming, “Limited Government, Free Markets, Private Property, and Personal Liberty.” The theme of limited government will be covered in AHI’s Leadership Luncheons, Publius Society, Entrepreneurship series, and Christopher Dawson Society, among other forms of programming. Johnson spent her time preparing to be a student leader in a discussion group. She did extensive research on the institute’s theme for the year, mostly in the form of reading works of political theory.
Johnson also helped with several summer events including open houses and the institute’s summer conference. The sconference, which was co-sponsored by the department of political science at Baylor University, was on "Shakespeare, Jonson, and the Economics of Liberty" and featured 10-15 panel members. Her responsibilities were quite varied, from “talking to visiting scholars over dinner to fixing drapery.”
While contributing to the AHI, Johnson also took away important skills that she believes will play a role in her career goals. The reading that she completed includes many distinguished works, and having this knowledge at her disposal has armed her with a well-informed perspective to discuss political issues with scholars and peers. Further, she has learned about what goes into maintaining an organization such as the AHI. These skills are applicable to any career, but Johnson believes that they are especially useful to public policy, which she hopes to pursue professionally.
Part of Johnson’s interest in the AHI arose from the positive effect that the organization seemed to have on some of her classmates. She says that this experience has been highly rewarding and enjoyable, and she hopes that her work has made a significant, positive influence on the AHI’s upcoming programming.
Marta Johnson is a graduate of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy in Austin, Texas.