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.

This Year's Pruis Rule of Law Lecture


Thursday, December 6, 2018

The 2018/19 Pruis Rule of Law Lecture will feature Patrick Deneen, author of the current bestselling book on democracy, law and Christian faith entitled Why Liberalism Failed.

Deneen holds a B.A. in English literature and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Rutgers University. Serving as a Professor of Political Science at Notre Dame since 2012, where he holds the David A. Potenziani Memorial College Chair of Constitutional Studies, Deneen previously worked as Speechwriter and Special Advisor to the Director of the United States Information Agency, was an Assistant Professor of Government at Princeton University, and held the Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Associate Professor of Government post at Georgetown University. 

Deneen's teaching and writing interests focus on the history of political thought, American political thought, religion and politics, and literature and politics. His current work focuses on the growing conflict between, and potential new alignments arising out of, a globalist meritocratic elite and populist nationalists and his published books include:

  • Why Liberalism Failed  (Yale University Press, 2018)
  • Conserving America? Thoughts on Present Discontents  (St. Augustine Press, 2016)
  • Democratic Faith  (Princeton University Press, 2005)
  • The Odyssey of Political Theory  (Rowman and Littlefield, 2000) 
  • Democracy's Literature (ed.),  (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005)
  • The Democratic Soul (ed.),  (University Press of Kentucky, 2011)
  •  Redeeming Democracy in America (ed.),  (University Press of Kansas, 2011)

Past lectures