Professor's Grant to Create Course, Bring Speakers to Mercer

A new grant from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation will help Stetson School of Business and Economics professor Scott Beaulier, Ph.D., advance the study of political economy at Mercer University. Dr. Beaulier, the department chair and assistant professor of economics, will give a special topics course for the spring semester and bring in a number of high-level economists to deliver lectures on contemporary issues in political economy.

The $16,000 grant will fund a one-credit course, Readings in Political Economy, this spring.  The grant will help cover the cost of books for students and to bring guest speakers to campus to participate in the course and deliver lectures on campus. 

“The Koch Foundation is one of the premier charitable foundations for people interested in exploring the links between economic freedom and human flourishing,” Dr. Beaulier said.  “I think their investment in Mercer University will be extremely beneficial to our students, as many of our students already have a deep interest in the wealth and well-being of nations.” 

The Readings in Political Economy course will meet on a biweekly basis.  One meeting will be spent discussing important contributions of the next guest speaker.  Two weeks later, the guest speaker will visit the class to take questions about his or her work.  Students will have the chance to visit informally with the speaker, raise questions about the speaker’s arguments and gain a deeper appreciation of scholarly discourse, Dr. Beaulier said.

“This grant is a great opportunity for Mercer students and Mercer University,” Dr. Beaulier said. “Students get a chance to see what economists do, and they will be challenged by the ideas and arguments presented in readings and public lectures.  I am very excited about this opportunity.” 

In the evening, the guest speaker will make a presentation to the campus community that will be open to the public.  Some of the speakers tentatively scheduled to appear include: Peter Boettke, Ph.D., of George Mason University, an expert on comparative economic systems and a leading scholar in the Austrian School of Economics; Robert Lawson, Ph.D., of Auburn University, an expert on the measurement of economic freedom; Benjamin Powell, Ph.D., of Suffolk University, whose research focuses on immigration and sweatshops; and Bruce Yandle, Ph.D., dean of business and behavioral science at Clemson University and a Mercer University alumnus, an expert on public choice economics. 

“This series is a wonderful opportunity for our students and for the Mercer and Middle Georgia communities to hear from these first-rate scholars and outstanding lecturers,” said William S. Mounts Jr., Ph.D., interim dean of the Stetson School of Business and Economics.  “The grant will provide a forum for these economists to share their expertise in the relationship between economic freedom and economic development. We have wanted to do something like this for a long time and the generosity of the Koch Foundation makes it possible.”

The grant is renewable and could potentially lead to future support of faculty-student research, Dr. Beaulier said. Dr. Beaulier is working on a number of other fund-raising initiatives to support free market activities and scholarship. 

Dr. Beaulier established his connections to the Koch Foundation during his time as a research fellow at the Mercatus Center in Arlington, Va., and as a graduate student at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

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