top of page

Our Story

The Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, founded in 1976 by Peter Brown and Henry Shue, is one of the oldest research institutions in the United States providing expertise on the normative dimensions of public policy. The institute works on pressing issues in public policy, including climate change and environmental policy, peace and security, well-being and welfare, bioethics and emerging technologies, international human rights, international criminal law, and global demands for justice. 

The Institute was originally founded as the Center for Philosophy and Public policy at the University of Maryland. The Institute became the blueprint for Maryland's School of Public Affairs. The nascent idea for an Institute emerged from conversations among pioneers in public philosophy, including Samuel Gorovitz, Daniel Callahan, Peter Brown, and Henry Shue. 


The emerging Institute was envisioned as a counterpart organization to the newly-founded Hastings Center, directed by Daniel Callahan. The Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy and the Hastings Center became the trend setters in the methods of interdisciplinary public philosophy. The Institute began publishing its influential journal, Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly, in 1981. In 2011, the Institute moved to George Mason University. Mark Sagoff, who was the last director of the Institute at Maryland, became the first director at Mason.

The Institute received start-up funding from The Rockefeller Foundation and continued support from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Institute projects have since been funded by major foundations and endowments, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Greenwall Foundation, and the Smith Richardson Foundation. The Institute gratefully receives continued support from Mason's College of Humanities and Social Sciences. 

Over 40 Years of Philosophy and Public Policy 

bottom of page