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.

See Past Lectures

This Year's Pruis Rule of Law Event

Tuesday, January 21, 2020
6:00-9:00 pm
Watch the Event

For 2019/20, the Henry Institute partnered with several student organizations to present Path to Justice: A Conversation on Criminal Justice Reform as its annual Pruis Rule of Law program. The event addressed the brokenness of the current criminal justice system, and the hope presented by its reform, with discussions led by formerly incarcerated speakers, re-entry activists, and others engaged in the issue. Speakers included Aaron Kinzel, Michael Dutthler, Nick Nichols, Crissa Blakenburg, and Ben Rosa.  

The program was sponsored by Forgive Everyone Co., Remedy Network, Calvin Student Senate, Calvin Republicans, Calvin Democrats, the Calvin Prison Initiative, and the Henry Institute.

Keynote Speakers

Aaron KinzelAaron Kinzel

University of Michigan, Dearborn
formerly incarcerated


Additional panel participants:

Michael Dutthler

former Calvin Prison Initiative student

Nick Nichols

former Calvin Prison Initiative student

Ben Rosa

Director of 70x7 GR
former law enforcement officer
formerly incarcerated

Crissa Blankenburg

Director of Offender Services
Michigan Department of Corrections