Upholding Light and Truth

The Buckley Institute focuses on fostering intellectual diversity at Yale. Launched as the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program by undergraduates in 2011 under the guidance of Professor Donald Kagan, the Buckley Institute attracts students across the political spectrum, bolstering free speech at Yale and beyond. Our flagship effort remains our student organization, the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program, now with over 730 student fellows.

Our Mission

The mission of the Buckley Institute is to promote intellectual diversity and freedom of speech at Yale University.

The mission of the Buckley Institute is to promote intellectual diversity and freedom of speech at Yale University. We aim to foster robust and open debate, provide a home for enlightened conservative thought, and expose students to often-unvoiced views. We believe that genuine intellectual diversity is essential for advancing critical inquiry and seek to challenge ideological complacency wherever it exists.

Our Eponym & Enduring Inspiration

Our eponym, William Frank Buckley, Jr., graduated from Yale in 1950.

It was the capstone of a brilliant collegiate career, during the course of which he distinguished himself on the debate team and as chairman of the Yale Daily News. Buckley was also a member of Skull and Bones and the Conservative Party of the Yale Political Union. In 1951, he published his first book, God and Man at Yale, exposing the intellectual conformity and dogmatism of Yale’s increasingly secularist, left-wing climate.

From the withering criticism Buckley received (one unfriendly reader, Frank Ashburn, called Buckley “Torquemada, reincarnated in his early twenties”), God and Man at Yale seemed, at the time, like the voice of one crying in the wilderness. But just two years later, Russell Kirk’s book The Conservative Mind gave more evidence that a conservative recrudescence was afoot. In 1955, having assembled a ragtag group of traditionalist conservatives, libertarians, and anti-Communists, Buckley launched National Review, then, as now, the right’s foremost journal of fact and opinion. His syndicated column, On the Right, began in 1962, and his 35-year-running television program, Firing Line, in 1966. He also found time to write or edit more than 50 books. The father of modern conservatism, Buckley was its foremost advocate for more than half a century, until his death in 2008.

“As a liberal, I find it essential to hear counterarguments in a space where they are protected and not shut down by the Yale community immediately, even if I rarely end up changing my mind.

— Yale Student ’24

“I think that the overall intellectual and political climate on campus is great, but this is clearly the result of the presence of the Buckley Institute and its programing. It serves as a reminder of the diversity of political and social viewpoints and absolutely encourages debate and discussion on campus.”

— Felse Kyle ’26

“The Buckley program helps create a plurality of political views on campus.”

— Rohan Krishnan ’24

“The Buckley Program does a great job highlighting different voices and providing a platform for conversations that aren’t happening elsewhere on campus.”

— Kristin Sharman, Law ’22

“I was just amazed to find this community of extremely friendly and intellectually serious people who are willing to actually talk about ideas and have that conversation. It’s something that’s just radically expanded my horizons in terms of how I engage with the world.”

— Alex Hu ’23

Our People

Learn more about our organizers and leaders who make this all possible.