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The Foundation for Critical Thinking was founded 35 years ago as the world's first center on critical thinking. In that time we have trained and inspired 100,000 educators through our workshops, and mailed sample books on critical thinking to more than one million teachers from kindergarten through graduate school.

We have also privately gathered nearly 10,000 books on critical thinking, by far the world's most extensive collected on the subject. Transformed with proper funding into a boutique library for academics, it would be a powerful force to spread secular values and rational thought. It would enable deep research into the aspects of critical thinking, give power to researchers who wish to establish critical thinking as a formal academic discipline separate from philosophy, and rescue books from obscurity and relate them in a single topical dimension that should be preserved for all time.

We seek funds to catalog our collection, build a library on site, and establish travel grants for academics wishing to visit.

The Challenge

thomas paine common senseCritical thinking is the most fundamental concept in the secular movement. It underlies our objections to organized religion, superstition, and belief in God. It is the basis for separation of church and state. The scientific method is based on it. If your goal is to move the secular movement forward, you can have no higher long-term leverage than to promote critical thinking. It is the aspect of secularism most likely to be supported by our allies and least likely to antagonize religious organizations.

Unfortunately, critical thinking doesn't have its own field of academic study. People assume that, similar to creativity, thinking skills are innate and cannot be taught or improved upon. Each discipline tends to assume it is the job of some other discipline to teach critical thinking, and the one field that does touch upon it -- philosophy -- does so in a way that is filled with jargon, divorce from everyday examples, and taught only at the college level.

As a result, the world does not have a research library dedicated to critical thinking. A research library is a boutique location that has collected all of the world's books on a given topic. The digital world does not touch such libraries because their works are so obscure and hard to find. Instead, academics travel to such libraries in person to study.

The Opportunity

19heyman-beauvoir-articleInlineThe Foundation for Critical Thinking was established in 1980 as the world's first center on critical thinking. Our approach to teach critical thinking is used more widely than any other. Over 35 years we have collected as many as 10,000 books on critical thinking, but never made them available to the public. It is time to make these volumes available to the world through a space dedicated to cataloging them, preserving them, and connecting them to academics.

Making our library available to the public would transform how critical thinking is perceived in academic circles and provide researchers with a unique resource not found elsewhere.


The benefits from this library to the secular movement are many:

  • Gives aid to the researchers who are most likely to further critical thinking's prominence in academic circles
  • Further establishes the Foundation for Critical Thinking at the center of the critical thinking movement
  • Preserves and promotes texts that would otherwise be forgotten or lost
  • Helps academics view critical thinking as a topic deserving of its own discipline

Project Plan

menckennotesWe wish to build a new building, a public library, on our current headquarters location. We will construct the building, catalog the books, transport them to their new home, and set up a fund to maintain them. We will create policies for accessing and loaning books, take account of especially old books which need special archiving, and create a website index for researchers to see our catalog, including personal recommendations and categorizations from the senior staff of the Foundation for Critical Thinking.

In addition, we will establish travel grants for academics who wish to visit but do not have the funds to.


We seek funding for the cataloging and preservation of our collection, volunteers to package and transport the books, and connections to a library willing to house them and receive funding in perpetuity to care for them.

We also seek funding for travel grants for researchers wishing to visit and use the library.

We can do a lot with a little, but expect a properly sized budget to be in the ballpark of $150,000. Potential donors should call to explore the parameters that will make a crisp, well detailed budget with a precise number possible.


Organization: Foundation for Critical Thinking
Contact Name: Linda Elder
Contact Email: elder@criticalthinking.org