MACON — Mercer’s Center for Undergraduate Research in Public Policy and Capitalism recently received a $16,000 grant from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation to advance the study of political economy at the University through a lecture series and funding student travel to national conferences. This is the second year of support from the Koch Foundation.
Founded in 2009 by a gift from the BB&T Charitable Foundation, the Center for Undergraduate Research in Public Policy and Capitalism is part of the Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics, and supports the exploration of capitalism and its role in public policies aimed at promoting the economic well-being of people. Through teaching and collaborative research, the center explores capitalism and its link to prosperity. The center is built on the assumption that liberty is valuable in its own right and is central to economic development.
“The gift from the Koch Foundation will augment the activities of the newly created Center for Undergraduate Research in Public Policy and Capitalism,” said Dr. Scott Beaulier, the BB&T Distinguished Professor of Capitalism and chair of the economics department. “The Koch grant will also help students travel to conferences and will allow them to discuss their research ideas with leading researchers. Students will get first-hand contact with leading academics, and they will be challenged by the ideas and arguments presented in readings and public lectures.”
In addition to travel, the grant will be used to bring in a number of high-level economists to participate in the course and deliver lectures on campus concerning contemporary issues in political economy. The lecture series for this year is still under development, Dr. Beaulier said, but those who are currently scheduled to speak include: Bruce Benson, Ph.D., of Florida State University, an expert in the field of law and economics; Peter Boettke, Ph.D., of George Mason University, an expert on comparative economic systems and a leading scholar in the Austrian School of Economics; Steve Horwitz, Ph.D., of St. Lawrence University, an expert on macroeconomics; James Otteson, Ph.D., of Yeshiva University, an expert on Adam Smith; and David Prychitko of Northern Michigan University, an expert in comparative economic systems.
Dr. Beaulier is also teaching a course related to the series, titled “Readings in Political Economy,” which meets 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. In the evening, the speaker will make a presentation to the campus community as part of the lecture series.
“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. “Their continued support of our program at 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.”
Fall 2009 Lecture Schedule:
The first lecture was held Oct. 1 and featured Dr. James Otteson, professor of philosophy at Yeshiva University, who spoke on the topic, “The Scottish Enlightenment on the Promise and Peril of Commercial Society,” in an event co-sponsored with Mercer’s Center for the Teaching of America’s Western Foundations.
Time and Location TBA
Dr. Steve Horwitz
professor of economics at St. Lawrence University
“Hurricane Katrina and Wal-Mart”