The "rule of law" refers to the concept that no individual—ruler or private citizen—stands above the law. To safeguard that principle, modern democracies typically bind governmental authorities to written, publicly disclosed laws and procedures. The rule of law provides predictability: citizens can plan their lives because they have access to the rules of the game, and they know they can assert their rights under those rules if government acts arbitrarily. While those same laws and procedures can limit a citizen’s own freedom to some extent, the principle of rule of law suggests such limitations, if reasonable, are preferable to arbitrary government.

The Pruis Rule of Law Endowment was established at Calvin College in 2008 by Ed Zeilstra in honor of long-time Calvin Business professor Don Pruis to promote an appreciation for the rule of law—an essential cultural and legal arrangement of great interest to Pruis. The Henry Institute is working to generate activities that foster and promote a renewed appreciation among students, faculty, staff, and the broader West Michigan community for the concept.

The Pruis Rule of Law Lecture series has been sponsored by the Henry Institute at Calvin since 2010, and features speakers who are researching issues related to the rule of law or who have personally experienced issues surrounding the development of the rule of law in countries around the globe.

RodLudemaThis Year's Pruis Rule of Law Lecture

On Thursday, November 2, 2017, Rod Ludema presented Are International Institutions Dispensable? (See the lecture here.) The economic dislocations of recent decades have given rise to political turmoil and a reassessment of international institutions. Should we continue to honor our international commitments in the face of changing circumstances? What is the value of international commitment? What circumstances warrant deviation? Dr. Ludema will address these questions as a way to make sense of the dramatic reversals underway in national approaches to cooperation on international trade, migration and environmental policy. Biblical principles of stewardship and justice give Christians a unique perspective and thus a needed voice in this debate. 

Ludema teaches Economics at Georgetown University, in the School of Foreign Service and Department of Economics. He formerly served as Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of State and as Senior International Economist in the White House Council of Economic Advisors. Ludema received his B.A. from Calvin College and attended Columbia University for his M.A., M.Phil, and Ph.D. degrees in economics. He specializes in international trade, with research interests including the political economy of trade policy, international trade bargaining, preferential trade agreements, trade and the environment, WTO rules and dispute settlement, and economic sanctions.

Thursday, November 2, 2017
Meeter Center Lecture Hall
3:30 p.m.

See a discussion on international trade agreements and global economy, with Rod Ludema and Henry Institute Director Kevin den Dulk.

Past lectures