Bridwell Institute for Economic Freedom

Economic Education

In addition to the classroom teaching of our faculty, the Bridwell Institute is directly involved in several economic education efforts. Our undergraduate student reading groups are growing in popularity and our Teaching Free Enterprise program for Texas school teachers.

Dean Al Niemi teaches a Certificate in American Capitalism and Michael Davis teaches for the Global Strategy Certificate Program, both offered through SMU Cox Executive Education.

Davis Teaching

  • Student Reading Groups

    Spring 2021 

    Reading Group at TTU

     The Bridwell Institute for Economic Freedom (formerly O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom) invites applications from undergraduate SMU students of any major for five Spring 2021 reading groups. The Bridwell Scholars Reading Group will meet on Mondays, the McLane Teammates Scholars Reading Group will meet on Tuesdays, and the Armentrout Scholars Reading Group will meet on Wednesdays, all at 6-8 pm. There will also be a second McLane Teammates Scholars Reading Group that will meet on Fridays at 11am-1pm. The groups will be led by Dr. Dean Stansel and Dr. Meg Tuszynski . All four groups will have the same reading list. The Advanced Reading Group, which will have a different reading list, will meet Thursdays at 6-8 pm, led by Dr. Ryan Murphy. If conditions permit, we will meet in person and dinner (or lunch) will be provided in the second hour. Most likely, we will be prevented from doing so, and the meetings will again be only one hour (over Zoom). Our reading groups are one semester, non-credit programs where participants will read and discuss selections from classic works in political economy and from contemporary scholars that address the relationships between and among entrepreneurship, economic freedom, and social progress. 

    The theme for the McLane/Armentrout/Bridwell Spring 2021 program will be “Economics, Evolution, and the Environment.” Our relationship with the natural environment affects and is affected by every aspect of economic activity. Students will read and discuss works on this issue from a variety of perspectives from authors such as Matthew Ridley and Nobel economist William Nordhaus. We will explore questions such as: How are biological and social evolution related? How can economics inform ecology, and vice versa? What does our evolutionary history imply for social policy? What is the best way to protect the natural environment? How can we address the problem of climate change? 

    The McLane/Armentrout reading groups complement parallel programs at Baylor University, Texas Tech University, Angelo State University, and the University of Central Arkansas. Students will examine the same set of readings and will interact at a joint summit held February 26 and 27, hosted by SMU (done virtually if in-person is not feasible). Attendance at that summit is mandatory.

    The title for the Advanced Reading Group will be “Civil Liberties.” Preference will be given to students who have previously participated in a Bridwell Institute/O'Neil Center reading group, but applications are open to all undergraduates. Among the topics that will be covered are the history of civil liberties in the United States, migration and the possibility of open borders, the economic origins of religious liberty, racial inequality in the United States, and free speech on campus, by authors such as Glenn Loury, Greg Lukianoff, Radley Balko, and Bryan Caplan. Students of the Advanced Reading Group are not required to attend the full McLane/Armentrout/Bridwell joint summit, but are expected to participate in Bridwell Institute events during the semester.

    Students will receive a $1,000 stipend upon successful completion of the program.

    There are many more applicants than available spots, so the application process is competitive. The online application will require you to upload an unofficial SMU transcript showing your cumulative GPA and to provide the following information: what year of school you’ll be in, your major and minor, your hometown, whether you have participated in a previous Bridwell Institute reading group (if so, which one), and which nights you are available to attend. It will also require you to provide short answers to the following questions: 1) What unique insights do your major and minor provide on the topic? 2) What are the three most influential works you have read? 3) What do you hope to get out of participating in this program? The deadline for submission of applications is Monday December 7, 2020. If you have questions, contact Prof. Dean Stansel at dstansel@smu.edu. Submit the online application here: http://bit.ly/BridwellReadingGroups 

    View Previous Programs

  • Teaching Free Enterprise

    The Bridwell Institute developed the Teaching Free Enterprise program to help Texas school teachers develop the knowledge and expertise they need to meet the Texas Economics TEKS regarding Free Enterprise in classroom instruction. Top professors and researchers from Southern Methodist University, TexasTech and the UT System, are providing lessons, activities and exercises that can be readily implemented in the classroom.

    This program presents modules that address some of the most important yet often misunderstood aspects of free-enterprise economies:

    • The connection between progress and the demise of jobs, companies and industries.
    • The institutional setup that creates conditions for success in free enterprise economies.
    • How free enterprise raises living standards over time.
    • How voluntary exchange adds to value by making both buyers and sellers better off.

    Teaching Free Enterprise in Texas offers educators: 

    • A fast-paced, informative program that earns CPE hours for educators. (Approved TEA Center)
    • Classroom-ready instruction by leading professors from Texan Universities, with a focus on real-world issues.
    • Lesson plans that fulfill the state’s standards (TEKS) to teach free enterprise and its benefits.
    • On-line access to instructional materials you can use to deliver the lessons to students.
    • Comfortable, modern venues, breakfast and lunch included.
    • At no cost to teachers, school districts or ESCs.