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.

Davis Teaching

  • Student Reading Groups

    Fall 2021 

    Reading Group at TTU

    The Bridwell Institute for Economic Freedom invites applications from undergraduate SMU students of any major for five Fall 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. The groups will be led by Dr. Dean Stansel. All three groups will have the same reading list. There will be two sections of the Advanced Reading Group, which will have a different reading list, led by Dr. Ryan Murphy. One will meet on Thursdays at 6-8 pm and the other on Fridays at 11am-1pm. If conditions permit, we will meet in person and dinner (or lunch) will be provided in the second hour. If not, then 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 Fall 2021 program will be “Freedom and Human Flourishing: Poverty, Prosperity & Quality of Life around the World.” Participants will read and discuss work by a diverse group of scholars, including Daron Acemoglu, George Ayittey, William Easterly, Deirdre McCloskey, James Otteson, and Jeffrey Sachs, that examine the role of personal freedom, markets, and culture in promoting human flourishing. We’ll explore questions such as: Why are some nations prosperous while other remain impoverished? How should we measure socio-economic progress? What role does foreign aid play in helping the poor? How has the quality of life changed over time around the world? How do government policies and markets affect our well-being?

    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 in the first half of the semester, 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 “Adventures and Misadventures in Science and Data Analytics.” Despite the topic covered, technical knowledge is not assumed or required for the texts that will be used. 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 texts that will be covered are The Hot Hand by Ben Cohen, The Data Detective by Tim Harford, and Science Fictions by Stuart Ritchie. Students of the Advanced Reading Group are not required to attend the full McLane/Armentrout 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 very 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 days 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 (or any other aspects of your personal experience) 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 May 3, 2021. If you have questions, contact Prof. Dean Stansel at

    Submit the online application HERE


    You can browse past Reading Groups HERE.


  • 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.

    View Modules Here

  • Other Opportunities

    Other Opportunities for SMU Undergraduate Students


    Bridwell Institute for Economic Freedom Colloquia:The Bridwell Institute offers periodic one-day intensive reading/discussion colloquia for undergraduate students. Contact for more information.


    Koch Internship Program: The Koch Internship Program (KIP) combines an educational approach that puts the student in the driver’s seat with hands-on work experience for future leaders interested in making a difference in the world. Read more...


    Koch Associate Program: The Koch Associate Program (KAP) is a year-long opportunity that blends professional development with real work experience. It is designed for early and mid-career professionals seeking to accelerate their growth as leaders while addressing the biggest problems in society. Read more...


    Mercatus Institute Don Lavoie Fellowship: The Don Lavoie Fellowship is a competitive, renewable, and online fellowship program for advanced undergraduates, recent graduates considering graduate school, and early-stage graduate students. Read more...


    Other Opportunities for SMU Graduate Students


    Adam Smith Society (SMU Cox Chapter): The Adam Smith Society is an expansive, chapter-based network of MBA students, professionals, and business leaders who work to promote debate and discussion about the moral, social, and economic benefits of capitalism. Read more...


    Institute for Humane Studies: The Institute for Humane studies offers several types of support for graduate students aspiring to become faculty members.Read more...


    Mercatus Center: The Mercatus Center offers numerous fellowship programs for graduate students. Read more...


    Other Opportunities for the DFW Community


    Adam Smith Society (Dallas Chapter): The Adam Smith Society is an expansive, chapter-based network of MBA students, professionals, and business leaders who work to promote debate and discussion about the moral, social, and economic benefits of capitalism. Read more...


    America's Future Foundation (Dallas Chapter): AFF-Dallas is a professional development network for individuals who believe in the power of personal liberty, entrepreneurship, and innovation–channeled through free markets–to promote positive social change. Read more...


    Bastiat Society (Dallas Chapter): AIER’s Bastiat Society program provides a platform for scholars and policy experts to share their insights and experiences with the general business community. Read more...