The Heritage Foundation is creating a research institute with a mission to reach new audiences and to inspire in Americans—especially the young—a renewed faith in American exceptionalism.
The goal of the new Edwin J. Feulner Institute, announced Tuesday, will be to “define a compelling vision of American exceptionalism and spread that vision to all Americans,” according to the leading conservative think tank.
“The new Feulner Institute will reach out to people who share the spirit of the founding principles in their hearts, but just don’t know it yet in their heads,” said Kay Coles James, president of The Heritage Foundation, according to her prepared remarks.
James also said:
The institute’s fellows will work on a scale never before attempted to produce compelling works explaining why America’s history makes her exceptional among nations.
We’ll take this story to every American, to your children and grandchildren, and to all the constituencies the conservative movement must win to win back the heart and soul of this country.
The announcement comes during the organization’s annual President’s Club meeting, which brings together Heritage supporters to network and hear from leaders in the conservative movement, including lawmakers, policy experts, and commentators. Vice President Mike Pence delivered the keynote address Tuesday evening.
The institute is designed to translate the principles of the nation’s founding to the modern day and advance the values of an unofficial national motto, “E pluribus unum,” through innovation, market research and messaging, civic education leadership, and engagement with various audiences. (The Latin phrase means “Out of many, one.”)
Heritage’s new institute is named after Ed Feulner, who as a congressional aide co-founded The Heritage Foundation in 1973 with Joseph Coors and Paul Weyrich. He went on to serve as Heritage’s president from 1977 to 2013 and again on an interim basis in 2017-2018 before James took over.
“The Feulner Institute will leverage Heritage’s existing market research capabilities and focus them on solving the most critical goal of our time: unifying and rallying the nation around the founding principles of the American ideal,” according to an internal document obtained by The Daily Signal. It adds:
The Edwin J. Feulner Institute will work with The Heritage Foundation’s existing teams and policy institutes to ensure that Heritage policies and strategic messaging reach all Americans—particularly those whom today lack a cogent understanding of our civic culture and national purpose.
The Feulner Institute will be all about engaging with a variety of Americans on the most pressing questions of the day, James proposed in April during the Annual Leadership Conference held by the think tank’s board of trustees.
Speaking of Feulner, 78, who served as Heritage’s president for more than 35 years, James said at the time:
I thought about what was the most pressing question, what is the biggest issue that I see within the conservative movement and within our country? And when I think about who he is and all that he has done, what would honor him more than anything?
And I will tell you, the thing that frightens me, scares me, keeps me up at night and makes me conservative … is [that] we are driving toward a cliff, and when we drop off that cliff we land in socialism.
James said the Feulner Institute is meant to remind Americans about the country’s greatness and why it should be protected:
We have something that we love. We have a way of life, we have the American ideal, and so the Feulner [Institute] will focus its time, energy, and effort in terms of educating the American people about that ideal.
Angela Sailor, formerly a deputy to James, will serve as the Heritage vice president in charge of the Feulner Institute.
The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.
This article has been updated since its initial publication.