Union University

Union University Department of Political Science

Department of Political Science


Wellum is ISI Honors Scholar

Oct 19, 2010

Joel Wellum is one of 50 students selected nationwide as an Intercollegiate Studies Institute Scholar for the 2010-20100 School Year. As part of his fellowship, Wellum attended a week long ISI Conference this summer in Annapolis, MD entitled "The Idea of a University: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow." This conference brings in scholars from around the nation to discuss a particular topic. The lecturers gave lectures and then students would break up into groups and discuss the ideas discussed. The overall topic of the conference was "What is the purpose of a liberal arts education?" and discussed topics such as does theology have a pace in the liberal arts education, what does liberal arts education look like, how shold conservative philosophers view liberal arts, what is the role of the internet in this media age, and does science and philosophy go together? 

Wellum thought that he fit right in as the focus on liberal arts continues much of what Union already does. His fellow students were from some of the most prestigious schools across the nation and he enjoyed meeting people with very diverse views. He found many students from Catholic schools with a strong emphasis on Catholic social and political thought, particularly Aquinas. Wellum got to discuss with his colleagues the role of natural law, whether it can be found through reason alone, the role of the allegorization of Genesis,  what is morality, and presuppositional apologetics. As a Protestant and someone more familiar with Enlightenment thinking, as someone who studies with a John Locke scholar here at Union, he was able to engage the debates and contribute as much as everyone else.

The ISI is a conservative foundation but one that tries to promote conservative thought more than conservative political ideas. The goal of the conference is to take 50 up-and-coming conservatives and expose them to hwo academics think and provide mentorships to help them decide on their career path. Moreover, ISI picks thebrains of its participants to know what students are thinking so they, and other participants, can mobilize conservative thinkers and conservative thinking on campus. ISI selected Peter Lawler, a professor at Berry and former member of George W. Bush's Bioethics Council, as his mentor for the year. Wellum will attend another conference on Edmuncd Burke in February and another conference in May.

Joel thoroughly enjoyed his time there meeting great professors nd students who want to learn and continue to grow in kowledge and wisdom. He said that his time there gave him a drive because he is not as well read as others there and he wants to use this time to read and learn more and to think Christianly. He is thankful for ISI for what they have done and look forward to continuing his fellowship with them and he is thankful that he could represent Union at this event.