Sponsored by the Michael and Andrea Leven Family Foundation

Ayn Rand Student Conference | W Atlanta-Midtown

November 2-4, 2018

“It was a true learning experience, with in-depth analysis and real life examples of how Objectivism applies in our daily life.” 

Gjergji Toromani, College of Europe, Natolin 

“Every person I met was so full of passion and purpose. It was inspirational to see people from all around the world who take an active interest in liberty and capitalism.”  

— Aleksandra Skica, Brooklyn College 

Speakers & Schedule

Friday, November 2, 2018

4:00 – 7:00 pm

Great Room Foyer; Lower Level 


Description: Check into the conference at the Great Room Foyer on the lower level and pick up your name badge, swag bag and free books! 

7:00 – 9:00 pm

Great Room; Lower Level 

Welcome Reception, Introduction of the Speakers and Opening Remarks 

Description: Kick off the conference with a free drink and light appetizers while meeting conference speakers, ARI staff and other students. 


Saturday, November 3, 2018

All sessions and conference meals on Saturday and Sunday will take place in the Great Room on the Lower Level. 

8:30 am

Saturday start time. Please check in outside the Great Room before the morning talk. 

8:40 – 9:20 am

Greg Salmieri

Thinking for yourself

What does it mean to do one’s own thinking, especially about controversial issues, and why is this important? What are some of the obstacles to intellectual independence, and how can they be overcome?  

9:20 – 10:00 am

Tara Smith

Tribalism in law 

10:00 – 10:30 am


10:30 – 11:10 am

Yaron Brook

Tribalism in economics 

11:10 – 11:50 am

Onkar Ghate

Religion and morality

Perhaps the two areas of life which generate the most conflict and in which it is most important to think for oneself—and most rare—are religion and morality. We’ll discuss why it’s so easy to follow the crowd here and why it’s vital not to do so.  

11:50 – 1:20 pm 


Enjoy lunch with your fellow attendees while meeting the conference speakers, mentors and staff. 

1:20 – 2:30 pm

Onkar Ghate, Yaron Brook, Tara Smith

Panel + Q&A: Tribalism and family relationships 

2:30 – 3:10 pm

Steve Simpson

Tribalism and freedom of speech

Conservatives cheered when the Supreme Court protected corporations’ free speech in Citizens United, but jeer when social media companies express their political preferences. Liberals gleefully criticize Christians and cry “hate speech” when anyone criticizes Islam. This talk will look at how tribalism colors our view of free speech today. 

3:10 – 3:40 pm


3:40 – 4:20 pm

Ben Bayer

Tribalism in today’s political culture.

This talk will consider signs that our political climate is increasingly divided by tribal loyalty rather than by ideological differences, and will explore what explains this. It will then offer guidance for avoiding the pull of tribalism in one’s own thinking about politics and in making decisions about becoming involved in politics.

4:20 – 5:30 pm

Panel + Q&A: Harry Binswanger, Greg Salmieri, Steve Simpson

Topic: Patriotism and the American system 

5:30 – 8:00 pm

Dinner on your own 

Description: There are a variety of great restaurants within walking distance of the hotel. Grab some of your new friends and have a bite to eat before heading to the #AynRandCon party. 

8:00 – 10:00 pm

Tba (off-site)

#AynRandCon Party

Description: Join #AynRandCon speakers and attendees for an exclusive party at an off-site location. Details tbd. 

2:00 am (Sunday, November 4)

Daylight Saving Time Ends! Remember to set your clock back to 1:00 am and get an extra hour of sleep! 


Sunday, November 4, 2018

8:30 am

Sunday start time. Please check in at the door of the Great Room before the start of the morning talk.

8:40 – 9:20 am

Harry Binswanger

Free will and individualism

9:20 – 10:30 am

Onkar Ghate, Greg Salmieri, Tara Smith

Panel + Q&A: Race, gender and identity politics

10:30 – 11:00 am

Group Photo – say cheese!

11:00 – 12:30 pm

What Next? — Speed Networking and ARI-STRIVE Info Session

In this session you’ll meet with STRIVE mentors and conference speakers for short, focused conversations about professional and personal development. You’ll also talk with ARI and STRIVE staff about how you can continue your exploration of Rand’s philosophy and stay connected to those you’ve met over the weekend. Mentors from a variety of fields will participate, including academia, business, education, law, marketing, nonprofits, philosophy, policy, psychology and technology.

12:30 – 1:30 pm 


Description: Enjoy lunch with your fellow attendees while meeting the conference speakers, mentors and staff.

1:30 – 2:10 pm

Elan Journo

Tribalism in international affairs

This talk looks at some forms of tribalism in other countries, particularly the role of tribalism in the subjugation of individuals, the opposition to human progress, and the fueling of violent conflicts.

2:10 – 2:50 pm

Aaron Smith

Counterfeit individualism 

If individualism is the antidote to tribalism, what constitutes “being an individualist”? This talk looks at attitudes and behaviors that are often confused with individualism, and contrasts them with Ayn Rand’s view of what it means to be an individualist.

2:50 – 4:00 pm

Title: Conference checkout

Description: Use this time to complete the exit survey and receive a $25 Amazon gift card! We look forward to seeing you at the next conference!

To get conference and other updates from ARI, sign up here. The Ayn Rand Institute reserves the right to make necessary adjustments to the schedule.

Hotel & Travel

Ayn Rand Student Conference 2018 will take place at the W Atlanta-Midtown hotel. Those receiving a scholarship are required to stay at the W and to attend the full conference, beginning at 7 PM on Friday, November 2, and ending at 4 PM on Sunday, November 4. (Those opting-out of a scholarship are exempt from these requirements.) 

Once you are accepted to the conference, a double room with two queen beds will be reserved for you at the W by ARI. You should "not" make a reservation at the hotel on your own. You must have a roommate and may choose to find one on your own or to have ARI assign you a roommate of your gender. Anyone looking for roommates should post a message in the AynRandCon 2018 Facebook group.

A guest checking into a room must be at least eighteen years of age, have a valid picture ID and present a method of payment for incidentals upon arrival.

ARI will cover only Friday and Saturday nights at the hotel. ARI can extend reservations to include Thursday or Sunday nights, but the attendee will pay for the cost of the additional nights. The conference room rate is $191/night (includes taxes and fees) and is available until October 16 or until the room block is filled. 


Travel Support

In general, those receiving a scholarship and are flying to the conference will book their travel through ARI’s booking website, which allows for ARI to pay for the flight directly. Those who are driving or taking ground transportation may submit a request for reimbursement of expenses after the conference. Further details will be provided when a scholarship is awarded. 

Getting There

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is the closest airport. The hotel does not provide a shuttle service to or from the airport. Ground transportation between the hotel and airport includes:

Subway (MARTA): Midtown Arts Center Station stop is 0.5 miles from the hotel ($2.50 one way from the airport; a reloadable Breeze card is required and costs $2.00)

UberX or UberPool: $20 – $24 if surge pricing is not in effect (one way)

Taxi: Flat rate of $32.00 from airport to the Midtown area


Can I still enjoy AynRandCon if I’m new to Ayn Rand’s ideas?

Absolutely! The content is balanced so those at all levels of familiarity with Rand — from beginners to advanced students — benefit. Every year there are dozens of first-time attendees. 

How can I get to know other attendees before AynRandCon?

The main way to interact with attendees before the conference is to join the AynRandCon 2018 Facebook Group. There, you can chat with other attendees about their plans for the conference. You can also search the #AynRandCon hashtag on Twitter to see what’s being said about the conference.

Will I have opportunities to interact with speakers outside the sessions?

Yes! In addition to taking questions during their sessions, AynRandCon speakers are happy to make themselves available for discussion whenever there is a break in the conference programming. We encourage you to interact with speakers during breaks, receptions and meals.

Getting the Most Out of AynRandCon

Can I attend a single session or day of the conference?

Attendees receiving a scholarship are required to attend the full conference, from 7 PM on Friday, November 2, to 4 PM on Sunday, November 4. If you are not receiving a scholarship, you are exempt from this requirement, but please let us know if you will not be attending the full conference. 

I can’t find a flight that doesn’t conflict with the conference schedule. What should I do?

The Atlanta airport is a major hub for domestic and international flights, so this is a rare occurrence. If you’re having difficulty, contact us at, and we will work with you to resolve the issue. 

What is your Cancellation/Refund Policy?

The registration fee will be refunded for cancellations made by October 10. Please contact us at if you are no longer available to attend the conference.

Do I have to stay at the W Atlanta-Midtown hotel or can I stay elsewhere?

Attendees receiving a scholarship are required to stay at the W Atlanta-Midtown hotel and to have a roommate who is also attending the conference. If you are not receiving a scholarship, you are exempt from these requirements.

How can I find a roommate?

Post a message on the AynRandCon 2018 Facebook Group to connect with other attendees concerning rooms, travel, etc. If you’ve done this and are still having difficulty finding a roommate, email us at and we can assign you a roommate. 

Will you livestream the conference?

We will not livestream the conference, but some sessions will be available on ARI Campus or ARI’s YouTube Channel after the conference. 

Are meals included in the conference? Can you accommodate dietary restrictions?

The conference includes a Friday night reception with light fare, Saturday and Sunday lunch and all-day coffee, and a party on Saturday evening with hors d’oeuvres. The reception and party include one free drink, after which there is a cash bar. Every meal will have a vegetarian option. Contact us ( if you have questions about the meals.

Conference Basics

Will there be free internet?

 Yes! Complimentary Wi-Fi is available in the guestrooms and meeting spaces. 

What are the transportation options from the airport to the hotel?

Please visit the Hotel and Travel section above. See also the W Atlanta-Midtown and the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport websites.

What is the charge for parking at the W Atlanta-Midtown?

The hotel offers only valet parking, which is $40.00/day.

How will I find conference events inside the hotel?

The meeting spaces are easy to find. The main meeting room is the Great Room, which is on the lower level of the hotel. 

Is there a dress code?

The conference will be photographed and filmed and has a “smart” or ”smart casual” dress code, which means casual but presentable and neat. See the links for more information, and if you have questions contact us at

What is your recording policy?

No private audio or video recording is allowed. ARI records conference events and makes them available later through our YouTube Channel, eStore and other outlets. However, you are encouraged to take photos and tweet (#AynRandCon)! We only ask that you refrain from using flash photography during talks so as not to disturb the speakers and other attendees.

At the Conference

Where can I learn more about Ayn Rand’s ideas?

Visit the Ayn Rand Institute’s main website,, and explore a wealth of resources related to Ayn Rand and her philosophy, Objectivism. A selection of past conference talks and courses is available at ARI’s YouTube Channel and eStore, and ARI Campus offers a variety of free online courses. The Students section of our website covers a variety of educational programs and resources available to students through ARI.

Where can I learn more about STRIVE?

STRIVE (STudents for Reason, Individualism, Value pursuit, and Enterprise) is a nationwide student organization whose mission is to empower a community of students to explore and put into practice the principles of Objectivism. STRIVE organizes activities at Objectivist conferences, hosts online Objectivism Q&As, runs a mentorship program, and produces The Undercurrent, a publication for students and young professionals that offers cultural commentary inspired by Rand’s philosophy. Learn more at

About the Conference Organizers


Get Ready, Only

Until #AynRandCon2018

All students in a degree program, an apprenticeship program or the Objectivist Academic Center who are at least eighteen years of age by November 2, 2018, are eligible to apply to attend Ayn Rand Student Conference 2018. Those who have graduated from or who will begin such a program within six months of the start of the conference are also eligible. (Exceptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis.)

The application deadline is October 1, 2018. Students who apply before September 1, 2018, will receive a 50% discount off the $100 registration fee. 

All those aspiring to attend the conference must apply to do so and be accepted. The application entails first registering for the conference and then completing the separate scholarship application (which you must complete even if you are not seeking a scholarship). Those accepted will receive a scholarship of up to $1,000 in value for lodging and travel expenses, unless they have chosen to waive the scholarship support and make the funds available to other applicants. 

The scholarship application is available at

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until October 1, but funds may be exhausted before then. Please complete the application as soon after registering as possible. You must include your registration number when you apply. 

For those whose applications are denied or who cancel before October 10, the fee will be refunded at the time of the denial or cancellation. After October 10, no refunds will be given for cancellations.



ARI is once again inviting non-students to attend AynRandCon by supporting the conference as a Sponsor. Your support will allow students to attend AynRandCon and learn about Objectivism. AynRandCon Sponsors are able to attend all conference sessions, receptions and meals, and can interact with students and speakers throughout the conference. Sponsors are also invited to a special Saturday evening dinner with speakers and conference staff.

As a Sponsor, you will be given recognition in conference materials (with an opt-out option), and you will be sent exclusive pre- and post-conference reports and additional sponsor perks.

Registration as an AynRandCon Sponsor is $2,500. A portion of your Sponsor registration, $2,000, is a tax-deductible donation to the Ayn Rand Institute and will support Ayn Rand Student Conference 2018.

If you would like to contribute without attending AynRandCon, or if you would like to contribute more than $2,500, please contact




Copyright © 1985 – 2018 The Ayn Rand® Institute (ARI). Reproduction of content and images in whole or in part is prohibited. All rights reserved. ARI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contributions to ARI in the United States are tax-exempt to the extent provided by law. Objectivist Conferences (OCON) and the Ayn Rand Institute eStore are operated by ARI. Payments to OCON or the Ayn Rand Institute eStore do not qualify as tax-deductible contributions to the Ayn Rand Institute.