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

    Fall 2020 

    Reading Group at TTU

    The O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom invites applications for five undergraduate reading groups for Fall 2020. 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 Monday and Friday groups are led by Dr. Meg Tuszynski; the other two are led by Dr. Dean Stansel. 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. Dinner (or lunch) will be provided. 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 2020 program will be “Exploring Inequality.” Inequality is frequently said to be a growing problem that needs to be addressed. Students will read and discuss works on this issue from a variety of perspectives. Authors will include Milton Friedman, Joseph Stiglitz, Tyler Cowen, and Paul Krugman. We will explore questions such as: What do people mean by the term “inequality”? How do you measure it? Is it changing substantially over time? What can (and should) public policy do to address it? What other solutions are there? 

    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 have the opportunity to interact at a joint summit on October 16-17, 2020, hosted by SMU. Attendance at that summit is mandatory.

    The title for the Advanced Reading Group will be “History and Political Economy of Food.” This semester, applications are open for the Advanced Reading Group to students who have not taken part in an O'Neil Center reading group before, although we will still be giving preference for those who have previously participated. Among the readings that will be covered are Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History by Rachel Laudan, An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies by Tyler Cowen, and Agricultural & Food Controversies: What Everyone Needs to Know by F. Bailey Norwood, Pascal Oltenacu, Michelle Calvo-Lorenzo, and Sarah Lancaster. Students of the Advanced Reading Group are not required to attend the full McLane/Armentrout joint summit, but are expected to participate in O'Neil Center 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 O’Neil Center 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 April 27, 2020. If you have questions, contact Prof. Dean Stansel at

    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.