What is Acton University?

  • Four days that integrate sound economics, business, philosophy, theology, and intellectual history
  • A customized learning plan that you create: featuring over 100 courses taught by over 60 experts: an international, world class faculty
  • An exploration of the intellectual foundations of freedom, and respect for the dignity and value of the human person
  • A place to learn about the classical foundations of economics, philosophy, theology, liberty and how they apply to our culture today
  • A unique educational experience enabling you to lead with a greater understanding of the intersection of liberty and morality
  • An international, ecumenical network of attendees helping you to apply your knowledge in shaping culture towards a free and virtuous society

Why attend?

1. World Class Scholars: Acton University faculty represent 60+ renowned institutions around the world.

2. Customized Classes: Every new Acton University participant takes Acton’s four core sessions on Tuesday, June 20. Curriculum for the subsequent days of Acton University is customizable for all participants, with over 60+ courses to select from. 

3. Global Learning Community: In 2022, Acton University attendees represented more than 70 countries.

4. Networking:  Acton University is more than its courses – its four days of making new friends, interacting in meaningful dialogue, and creating a network for future collaboration. From scheduled free time to happy hours, there’s ample time to engage with the fascinating people you will meet.

5. Inspiration: The ideas you encounter at Acton University have the power to change lives, including your own. Build up your knowledge and take it to your workplace, church, or school. Transform what you learn into what you do.

Registration Opens: Monday, December 5, 2022

Financial Aid Application Deadlines:

  • International Applicants: Friday, April 7, 2023
  • Domestic Applicants: Friday, May 5, 2023

Participant Acceptance Forms Deadline (Flight Reservation, Hotel Reservation, Personal Agenda): Friday, May 12, 2023

Registration Closes: Friday, June 2, 2023

Conference Dates: June 19-22, 2023 (Monday evening through Friday evening.)

See the full conference schedule here.

Who attends Acton University?

Everyone with a personal and/or professional interest in religion, liberty and market-based economics is invited to apply. Typical Acton University attendees include…

  • Students: Undergraduate and graduate
  • Academics: Professors and researchers
  • Faith-based Leaders: Pastors, priests, rabbis, seminarians, church staff, and congregational lay leaders from many faith traditions
  • Non-profit Leaders: Founders and development professionals
  • Business Leaders: Start-up entrepreneurs to established businesspeople and everyone in between

What is an Acton Alumnus?

Anyone who has attended Acton’s four core lectures is an Acton alumnus. These lectures cover the foundations of:

1. Christian Anthropology

2. Natural Law

3. Basic Economics

4. Good Governance

This includes past attendees of Acton University, Toward a Free and Virtuous Society (FAVS), City FAVS, and Liberty & Markets colloquia.

How old do you need to be to attend Acton University?

Acton University is intended for adult attendees who are 18 years old on or before June 19, 2023. Minor attendees will only be accepted if they are accompanied by a legal guardian, who is also accepted to the conference. All minor attendees must have access to a personal email, distinct from their legal guardian. There are no discounts for minors or their attending guardians.

All attendees must submit an application to attend Acton University and be approved to attend the conference. Unregistered attendees, regardless of age, are not allowed to attend or participate in the conference or related activities.   

Can my spouse attend with me?

  • Yes. All conference attendees are responsible for securing their own hotel arrangements, so your spouse is welcome to travel with you and share your room.
  • If your spouse is not officially registered and accepted to AU, they will NOT be able to participate in any of the conference activities (i.e. meals, breaks/hospitality, and lectures).
  • If your spouse is accepted to the conference, please note that both of you must complete the online registration process (and subsequent tasks) separately.

All conference applicants may apply for financial assistance to help off-set the costs to attend Acton University. The request for financial assistance is found in the conference application form under the heading “Application for Financial Aid” and must be completed in order to be considered. Limited financial assistance may be awarded for travel costs or for the conference fee to qualifying applicants based on availability.

Travel Funding: There is limited financial assistance for travel expenses available to qualifying applicants. If you would like to request financial assistance to travel to Grand Rapids for Acton University, please answer the questions found in the “Application Financial Aid” section at the end of the Acton University application form.

Financial Assistance for the Conference Fee: Fellowship programs and other financial assistance for the conference fee is available to qualifying applicants. This financial assistance may include additional requirements before or after the conference and the amount of funding may vary.

  • If you have been invited to apply for a specific fellowship program to attend Acton University 2023: Please answer the related question in the “Application for Financial Aid” section at the end of the application form. Be prepared to provide the name of the fellowship program and the name of person who invited you to apply.
  • If you would like to request financial assistance for the conference fee, but have not been invited to apply for a specific fellowship program to attend Acton University 2023: Please answer the related question found in the “Financial Aid” section at the end of the conference application form. Financial assistance will be awarded to qualifying applicants based on availability.

Where does Acton University take place?

Acton University is held at the DeVos Place Convention Center along the Grand River in beautiful downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Where is the nearest airport?

  • Participants travelling by plane fly into the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR), which is located 13 miles (approx. 15-20 minutes) southeast of downtown Grand Rapids.
  • Further details regarding arrival and departure will be available to participants after acceptance.

I plan to drive to Grand Rapids – is there any parking available?

If you commute each day and park downtown, you are responsible for the daily parking fees. There are many parking options in downtown Grand Rapids near the DeVos Place Convention Center. Maps of available facilities are found here (from the City of Grand Rapids) and here (from ExperienceGR).

  • If you are using AU lodging options, you will be responsible for the cost to park your car.
  • Plan to arrive at the DeVos Place Convention Center in time to register at 3:30pm on Monday, June 19.

Can I travel by bus or train?

Downtown Grand Rapids has a train station and bus station. Both are located less than 2 miles (approx. 6 minutes by car) from the conference site and area hotels.

Amtrak: 440 Century Avenue SW

Greyhound Bus: 250 Grandville Avenue SW

Does the Acton Institute sponsor U.S. travel visas?

The Acton Institute will not be sponsoring visas for Acton University 2023.

Acton University 2023 conference attendees must have their U.S. travel visa secured at the time of application that is valid through the dates of the conference, if applicable. Acton Institute is not responsible for fees incurred from applying for a travel visa.

What is appropriate attire for the conference and what should I bring?

  • Business casual.
  • For the evening plenary and dinner, some attendees wear a suit coat and/or tie, and women dresses. Not formal, but a step up from business casual.
  • We recommend that everyone bring an umbrella and light jacket/sweater. June in Grand Rapids is generally beautiful, but always brings with it the element of surprise! People often react to air-conditioning in different ways; plan to bring a sweater/jacket if you tend to be cold in large public venues.

How do I submit a hotel request?

Acton has secured a room block at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel located in downtown Grand Rapids within walking distance to the DeVos Place Convention Center. Accepted Acton University participants may submit a hotel request within the registration form. Complete instructions about hotel reservation procedures within the AU hotel block will be provided to accepted conference applicants. Acton will secure your request and confirm your lodging arrangements prior to the conference.

Please NOTE: If you choose to secure your lodging outside of the conference room block, the cost for paying that lodging is yours. Hotel rooms in the AU room block are within walking distance of the DeVos Place Convention Center. If you secure accommodations which require a daily commute to the conference site, any parking expenses and transportation costs associated with the commute will be your responsibility.

Questions about making a hotel reservations?
Contact us by email [email protected]

Will meals be provided?

Yes. The cost of meals, evening receptions, and beverages for the duration of the event are included in the conference fee for all accepted attendees.

 Are you able to accommodate food related allergy/dietary restrictions?

We understand that some guests may have dietary restrictions. Please indicate your dietary requests in your conference application and we will do our best to accommodate them. We cannot guarantee requests not included in the conference application.

When I'm filling out the registration form, why can't I choose certain presentations? 

  • First-time attendees are required to attend Acton’s Core presentations, which are offered during sessions 1 through 4. If you are NOT an alumnus, you must take the 4 Core presentations.
  • Returning attendees and other Acton alumni have the option to choose from alternative presentation offerings.

What are the Core Presentations?

The four (4) Core presentations provide participants with the essential overall framework and intellectual context for liberty, freedom, economics, and Judeo-Christian anthropology. These presentations are a vital step in the exploration of the various themes and topics addressed throughout the week. We require that all first-time participants, non-alumni, attend the Core lectures.

Is it possible to bypass the Core lectures?

Does the Acton Institute sponsor US travel visas?

The Acton Institute will not be sponsoring visas for Acton University 2023.

Conference attendees must have their U.S. travel visa secured at the time of application that is valid through the dates of the conference, if applicable. Acton Institute is not responsible for fees incurred from applying for a travel visa.

Can I attend Acton University if I am based outside of the United States, but currently have a valid visa to travel?

Yes. You will need to provide documentation of a valid visa in the Acton University application.