Continued from page 1

“From labor camps in North Korea, to political prisons in Cuba and Burma, university halls in Iran, coffeehouses in Venezuela, and other places, dissidents and reformers are seeking strength and support. When America stands for liberty, they take heart. When we do not, the dictators tighten their grip,” Mr. Bush said.

Several fellows have been recruited for the institute, including the first fellow in “human freedom” — Oscar Morales Guevara. Mr. Guevara used Facebook to launch a movement called “One million voices against the FARC,” the brutal leftist separatist movement in Colombia. A month later, more than 12 million people in 40 countries rallied against the network.

Former first lady Laura Bush will play a role as well, overseeing women’s initiatives and education — her signature issue during her tenure in the White House. With Sandy Kress, former chairman of the Dallas County Democratic Party, as the issue’s steward, the institute will seek to evaluate how best “to recruit, prepare, evaluate and reward” principals and administrators.

The presidential complex — at more than 200,000 square feet, second in size only to former President Ronald Reagan’s library in Simi Valley, Calif. — will include an archives and museum. The archives will hold “4 million photos; thousands of boxes of documents; and hundreds of millions of e-mails — not one of which was sent by me,” he said to laughter.

But the policy institute will be forward-looking.

“It’s an interesting way to make a presidential library, which is usually about what happened in the past, a vehicle to continue to talk about how to change the future,” said Mark Langdale, president of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Also at the museum will be a replica of his Oval Office, a “Texas rose garden,” Mr. Bush said, and “the bullhorn I used in my first visit to ground zero” at the World Trade Center three days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Mr. Bush, who is writing his memoirs, seemed to enjoy the spotlight and, as a self-confessed C student, his return to college.

“It’s pretty exciting for a 63-year-old to be back on the college scene. I enjoy popping in on a class from time to time. Come to think of it, that was my strategy as a student,” he said to laughter.

His post-presidency also has provided some interesting opportunities, he said, including “a job offer to be a greeter at Elliott’s Hardware.”