The Acton Institute is named in honor of John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton (1834-1902), 1st Baron Acton of Aldenham and the historian of freedom. Known as “the magistrate of history,” Lord Acton was one of the great personalities of the nineteenth century. Widely considered one of the most learned Englishmen of his time, Lord Acton made the history of liberty his life’s work.
The most notable conclusion of Acton’s work is that political liberty is the essential condition and guardian of religious liberty. He thereby points to the union of faith and liberty, which has been the inspiration for the mission of the Acton Institute. Father Sirico sums up the Institute’s purpose: “Acton realized that economic freedom is essential to creating an environment in which religious freedom can flourish. But he also knew that the market can function only when people behave morally. So faith and freedom must go hand in hand. As he put it, ‘Liberty is the condition which makes it easy for conscience to govern’".
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Awards & Rankings
The University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) maintains comprehensive data on more than 6,500 think tanks worldwide. Of those more than half are considered in the ranking, but fewer than 300 organizations make it into the final report. In recent years, the Acton Institute has consistently placed among the top think tanks worldwide.
The 2020 University of Pennsylvania report ranked Acton as such:
- 18th of 120 in the Top Social Policy Think Tanks ranking
- 35th of 110 in the Top Think Tanks in the United States
- 156th of 174 in Top Think Tanks Worldwide
- 8th out of 92 in Best Advocacy Campaign
- 21st out of 65 in Best Think Tank Conference for Acton University
Read more about Acton's rankings in the 2020 University of Pennsylvania report here.
Over 80% of our funding comes through tax-deductible contributions of individual Acton supporters. We also receive support from foundations, corporations, and from the sale of our many materials – books, publications and learning curricula.