The late Sir Roger Scruton (1944-2020) and CSS President and CEO Marion Smith speaking at 2016 CSS Event "Scruton: Why Are We Unwilling to Defend Western Civilization?" held at the Petőfi Irodalmi Múzeum in Budapest, Hungary.
Liberty. Prosperity. Beauty.

These ideas
change lives

Common Sense Society (CSS) was founded as a debating forum in 2009 by a group of American and European university students. The group aimed to explore the ideas, cultures, and geography that have shaped our history and will greatly influence our future. In doing so, Common Sense became a celebration of the “sensus communis” and all that we’ve learned as a part of our civilization.

Today, CSS is an international network that promotes liberty, prosperity, and beauty—timeless principles that are foundational to human flourishing and happiness.

With a community-centered model across North America and Europe, we educate 21st-century generations and inform public discourse. Our fellowships, curriculum resources, publications, cultural programs and events, and targeted national campaigns illuminate the enduring ideas that have transformed the course of human history for the better. The ideals of liberty, prosperity, and beauty can change lives everywhere.

We are cultivating a future that draws on the best of the past—a future that is free, flourishing, thoughtful, and full of enduring meaning.

Our Guiding Principles

Our Guiding Principles are liberty, prosperity, and beauty. They are established on a firm philosophical foundation of human equality that respects the inherent individual rights of each person.


Liberty has at its foundation the inherent and equal rights possessed by each and every individual protected by the rule of law, or, as distinguished scholar and Harvard Senior Fellow Niall Ferguson says, “the sanctity of individual freedom and the security of private property rights, ensured by representative, constitutional government.” Every individual has the sacred freedom to voluntarily use their labor and leisure time in the manner of their choosing, to pursue their interests in their own way. Self-control and the ability to exercise one’s judgment allows people to make meaningful choices for personal and communal benefit.

Common Sense Society helps future leaders explore how timeless principles are applied to the circumstances of today.

Bronze statue of George Washington by Jean Antoine Houdon and view of Constantino Brumidi's "Apotheosis of Washington" in the US Capitol Rotunda.


Prosperity is the promise that tomorrow will be better than today, which previous generations made possible. Securing an even brighter future through innovation, voluntary exchange, and market competition will require a renewed commitment to liberal economic principles, education, and protection of private property.

Common Sense Society will celebrate the success of human achievement and champion future entrepreneurs and policy makers who steward freedom and opportunity in their communities.

"Hudson River Waterfront, N.Y.C.", oil on canvas by Colin Campbell Cooper. Included in the view are the Woolworth and Singer buildings, then the first and second tallest buildings in the world.


“Through the pursuit of beauty,” wrote Roger Scruton, “we shape the world as a home.” Beauty, whether it is enduring art or conservation of the natural world, brings meaning to our lives. We believe in being good stewards of the natural world as well as appreciating human creativity in the arts.

Common Sense Society is committed to celebrating excellent art, literature, music, architecture, and the natural world through educational initiatives, live events, and more.

"Still life with rotting fruit and nuts on a stone ledge", oil on panel by Dutch Master Abraham Mignon, designed to recall the brevity of life and the urgent need to focus on lasting matters rather than fleeting earthly pleasures.


Each Common Sense Society fellowship offers the opportunity to study with leading thinkers in social, thoughtful atmospheres and to strengthen their professional relationships. Join us in exploring how these ideas change lives everywhere by applying for a Common Sense Society fellowship.

Danube Institute President John O'Sullivan speaking to students at a CSS event in 2013.
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