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American Project Events

Pepperdine School of Public Policy American Project Panel at conference

The American Project hosts several events throughout the year. With deep roots in Western Civilization, the American Project is grounded in the conviction that the capacity for self-government is a source of a distinctly human dignity, one that in America produced an exceptional and peculiarly American governing document, the US Constitution. Related, this right and ability to pursue happiness requires energetic social and political institutions—from schools and houses of worship to workplaces and political parties—to supply moral order and speak to our deep human needs for virtue and belonging. The collapse of these community-building institutions has led directly to a severe questioning of what it means to be an American with a looming threat of losing any sense of our common American identity.

Past Events

  The Quest for Community: Realizing the American Project

The COVID pandemic only highlighted the central importance of local governing agencies and community-based institutions to the flourishing of the nation as a whole. The success or failure of responses to policy issues ranging from education and public safety to homelessness and public health was often not due to federal action but in the strength (or weakness) of local faith-based institutions and effective local governments.

Of course, America's founders along with its observers from Tocqueville to Robert Nisbet understood the importance of this "communitarian" approach to politics and policy—one that requires a constitutionally limited and ordered government and an informed and engaged citizenry.

Hosted by the American Project, this "Quest for Community" conference welcomed leading thinkers and policymakers to our Malibu campus to discuss and debate the future of this uniquely American perspective on politics in a time of national polarization.

  The Quest for Community: A Future for American Conservatism

American conservatism stands at a crossroads. Launched after the 2016 elections, the American Project is arguing for a reimagined communitarian conservatism (or a "conservatism of connection") in public policy and political rhetoric is the best way forward.

Originally planned as a summer conference here on our Malibu campus, "The Quest for Community: A Future for American Conservatism" has now transitioned to a series of webinars with leading thinkers, activists, and policymakers exploring the implications of renewing our appreciation for this long-standing tradition in conservative thought and policy. Deriving our title from the late sociologist Robert Nisbet's foundational book, The Quest for Community, this series will discuss the current-day implications of this work—what it means for today's policy and politics.

  Why Should Policy Leaders (and Policy Schools) Care about Loneliness?

The "American Project" at Pepperdine's School of Public Policy is a unique "pracademic" initiative that is exploring a variety of cultural factors impacting our politics and policymaking. One of the issues they're focused on is the growing crisis of loneliness. Long before the pandemic, economists, social psychologists and healthcare experts were raising serious concerns about the increasing levels of disconnection and alienation across almost all demographic categories. As human beings created for community, how should policy makers and leaders of faith respond to these challenges? Hear from one of the nation's leading researchers in this field and the dean of Pepperdine's School of Public Policy in this timely conversation.

Recommendations from Dean Pete Peterson for further reading on the topic:

  • Death by Loneliness by Dr. Broghammer - RealClear Policy (American Project series)

  • We are suffering from a social recession, too. by Michael Hendrix (Manhattan Institute) - RealClear Policy (American Project series)

  • All the Lonely Americans? Report by Joint Economic Committee (Sen. Mike Lee's Office)

  • Them: Why We Hate Each Other - And How To Heal book by Senator Ben Sasse

  • Divided Politics and Lonely Americans Faith and Law discussion between Senator Ben Sasse and Os Guinness.

Francie Broghammer, MD, is the Chief Psychiatry Resident at the University of California, Irvine. Her academic interests lie in medical ethics, education, spirituality, and human flourishing. She is a Leonine Fellow, an American Psychiatric Association Leadership Fellow, and is a board member for Pepperdine University's American Project. Additionally, she holds the distinction of sitting on the UC Irvine Medical Ethics Committee. Dr. Broghammer played Division I Women's Lacrosse at the University of Notre Dame, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Science Pre-Professional Studies and Portuguese Language & Brazilian Studies. She attended the University of California, Irvine for medical school and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Medical Honor Society. Dr. Broghammer has published several peer reviewed articles and is currently researching suicide and social isolation. She resides in Long Beach, California with her husband and their two children.

Pete Peterson was the first executive director of the bi-partisan organization Common Sense California (CSC). In 2010, CSC became the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University. Currently, Peterson serves as dean of Pepperdine's School of Public Policy. Along with teaching a class on the subject at Pepperdine, Peterson co-developed the Davenport Institute's training seminars which have been offered to more than 1,000 public sector leaders. He's also consulted on many participatory governance projects throughout California on issues ranging from budgets to water policy. Pete serves on the advisory boards of California's Institute for Local Government, and the Public Policy Institute of California, as well as the DaVinci Charter Schools in Hawthorne, CA. Pete earned his BA in History from George Washington University, and his Masters in Public Policy from Pepperdine's School of Public Policy. He was the 2014 Republican nominee for California Secretary of State.

  Social Capital Summit

Washington, DC | June 5, 2019

What is the American Project?




  • Mike Lee, United States Senator, Utah

PANEL: America's "Loneliness" Problem and the Challenge to Social Capital


  • Timothy P.  Carney, Visiting Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

  • Warren Farrell, Author, The Boy Crisis

  • Laura A. Maristany, Associate Director, Governance Program, Democracy Fund

  • Joshua Mitchell, Professor of Political Theory, Georgetown University


  • Pete Peterson, Dean, Pepperdine School of Public Policy

PANEL: Can Government Build Back Social Capital?


  • Vanessa Brown Calder, Senior Policy Advisor, United States Congress Joint Economic Committee

  • Lanhee J. Chen, David and Diane Steffy Research Fellow, Hoover Institution 

  • Ryan Streeter, Director of Domestic Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute

  • Scott Winship, Executive Director, Social Capital Project, United States Congress Joint Economic Committee


  • Cherie Harder, President, The Trinity Forum 

PANEL: Today's Social Capital Builders and Their Policy Needs


  • Daniel Garza, President, The LIBRE Initiative

  • Anne Snyder, Editor-in-Chief, Comment Magazine

  • John Wood Jr.,  Director of Media Development, Better Angels

  • Robert L. Woodson, Founder and President, Woodson Center


  • Richard Tafel, Co-Founder, The American Project 

CLOSING: Next Steps for a "Conservatism of Connection"


  • Pete Peterson, Dean, Pepperdine School of Public Policy 

  • Richard Tafel, Co-Founder, The American Project

  Toward a Conservatism of Connection: Reclaiming the American Project

Malibu, CA | June 27-28, 2018Reclaiming the American Project: The Strange Road to a Conservatism of Connection


  • Pete Peterson, Dean, School of Public Policy
  • Richard Tafel, Co-founder, the American Project

The Social Psychology of a Nation Coming Apart


  • Pete Peterson, Dean, School of Public Policy
  • Francis Hart Broghammer, Resident Physician, UC Irvine Medical Center

Little Platoons and Big Ideas: Conservatism and the Art of Connection


  • Ted McAllister, Edward L. Gaylord Chair, Associate Professor of Public Policy


  • Jeremy Beer, Chairman of the board, the American Conservative

  • Timothy Carney, Visiting Fellow, American Enterprise Institute 

  • Elizabeth Corey, Associate Professor of political science, Baylor University

  • Joshua Mitchell, Professor of political theory, Georgetown University

  • Daniel Garza,  President, The LIBRE Initiative

Dinner and Keynote Address: Trump—Symptom or Catalyst?


  • Victor Davis Hanson, Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

The Wisdom of Solomon: Finding the Balance in America's Religious Liberty


  • Rich Tafel, Cofounder, the American Project


  • Stephanie Barclay, Associate Professor, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University

  • Bruce Frohnen, Ella and Ernest Fisher Chair, Pettit College of Law, Ohio Northern University

  • Cherie Harder, President, The Trinity Forum

  • Suhail A. Khan, Director, External Affairs, Microsoft Corporation

  • Monica Mehta, Managing Principal, Seventh Capital

Viewpoint Diversity: Restoring American Higher Education as the Marketplace of Ideas


  • Pete N. Peterson, Dean, School of Public Policy and Co-founder, the American Project


  • Kaitlyn S. Carwin (MPP '18), Contributing Editor, the American Project

  • James Kirchick, Visiting Fellow, Center on the United States and Europe and Project on International Order and Strategy, Brookings Institution

  • Heather MacDonald, Thomas W. Smith Fellow, Manhattan Institute

  • Sarah Ruger, Director, Free Expression, Charles Koch Institute

  • Jon Shields, Associate Professor, Claremont McKenna College

Bill and Ted's Excellent Conversation: Why Conservatives Must Think


  • Ted V. McAllister, Edward L. Gaylord Chair and Associate Professor, School of Public Policy

  • Wilfred "Bill" McClay, G. T. and Libby Blankenship Chair, University of Oklahoma

Protecting Us Against Attack: What Is the Evolving Role of Foreign Engagement for America?


  • Terry McCarthy, President and CEO, Los Angeles World Affairs Council


  • Robert G. Kaufman, Robert and Katheryn Dockson Professor, School of Public Policy

  • William Ruger, Vice President, Research and Policy, Charles Koch Institute

  • Elizabeth Spalding, Associate Professor, Claremont McKenna College

  • Ryan Williams, President, The Claremont Institute

E Pluribus vs. Unum?: Conservatives and the Fight for the Underdog


  • Rich Tafel, Cofounder, the American Project


  • Ruben Barrales, President and CEO, Grow Elect

  • Art Estopinan, President, The Estopinan Group, LLC

  • Sarah Longwell, Senior Vice President, Berman and Company

  • Joshua Mitchell, Professor, Georgetown University

  • Avik Roy, President, The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity

  • John Wood, Jr., Director, Media Development, Better Angels

What Can Trump and Reagan Teach Us About the Future Leader of a Conservative Coalition?


  • Steve Hayward, Senior Resident Scholar, Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley

  • Henry Olsen, Senior Fellow, Ethics & Public Policy Center

A Way Forward: Next Steps for the Project


  • Pete N. Peterson, Dean, School of Public Policy and Cofounder, the American Project

  • Rich Tafel, Cofounder, the American Project

From Theory To Practice: Practical Steps to Transform Conservative Policy


  • Pete N. Peterson, Dean, School of Public Policy and Cofounder, the American Project


  • Rachel Barkley, Director of Outreach, House Republican Conference, US House of Representatives

  • Lanhee Chen, David and Diane Steffy Research Fellow, Hoover Institution

  • Tony Mills, Managing Editor, Real Clear Policy

  • Ryan Streeter, Director, Domestic Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute

  • Robert Traynham, Head, Public Policy Communications, Facebook

  The American Project: On the Future of Conservatism 

Washington, DC | October 26, 2017


  • Pete N. Peterson, Dean, School of Public Policy and Cofounder, the American Project

  • Jimmy Kemp, President, Jack Kemp Foundation


  • Richard Tafel, Raffa Social Capital Advisors

  • Ryan Streeter, American Enterprise Institute

  • Elizabeth Spalding, Professor, Claremont McKenna College

  • Abby Skeans, Glossator Advising

  • Joshua Mitchell, Professor, Georgetown University