Student Reading Groups

 

Reading Group at TTU

Fall 2019 (April 29 Application Deadline) 

The O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom invites applications for four undergraduate reading groups for Fall 2019. The Bridwell Scholars Reading Groupwill 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 over the course of the semester. The Monday group is led by Prof. Meg Tuszynski; the other two are led by Prof. Dean Stansel. All three 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 Prof. Ryan Murphy. Dinner 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 Spring 2019 program will be “The Past, Present, and Future of Work.” The history of paid work and labor markets in the US is the story of increasing standards of living. It is also the story of women, immigrants, teenagers, and racial minorities encountering social and legal discrimination, and overcoming it (sometimes). Increasing skills, labor productivity, and wages have often gone hand in hand, though not always. Why not? And what does the future hold? What role does immigration play in labor markets? What about labor unions? And occupational licensing? And the minimum wage? Students will explore these and related questions through readings by a variety of scholars such as Milton Friedman, Claudia Goldin, Price Fishback, and David Card. 

 

The McLane/Armentrout reading groups complement parallel programs at Baylor University, Texas Tech 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 September 27-28, 2019, hosted by SMU. Attendance at that summit is mandatory.

 

The title for the Advanced Reading Group will be “How to Be a YIMBY: Market Urbanism and Regional Economics.” Unlike in the past, we are opening applications to students who have not previously taken part in an O'Neil Center reading group, although we will still be giving preference to previous participants. We will be covering issues surrounding the re-invigoration of major cities, and the new challenges faced by cities experiencing rapid rises in housing costs in recent decades. In doing so, we will focus on Triumph of the Cityby Ed Glaeser, with other readings considering issues such as the relationship between housing and the global financial crisis, and how best to interpret the legacy of the famed activist, Jane Jacobs. 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 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? 4) How did you hear about the program? The deadline for submission of applications is Monday April 29, 2019. If you have questions, contact Prof. Dean Stansel at dstansel@smu.edu. Submit the online application here

 

Previous Programs

Spring 2019

The theme for the McLane/Armentrout Spring 2018 program was “The Economics of Knowledge.” Participants read and discussed works by scholars such as F.A. Hayek, Joseph Stiglitz, Bryan Caplan, and Cass Sunstein. They examined the importance of appropriate institutions for facilitating knowledge discovery and transmission, and explored a variety of applied topics. 

The program for the Advanced Reading Group was “History of Economic Thought,” which covered classical economics, the birth of modern economics, the challenge of Keynes, and more recent developments using secondary sources, such as The Worldly Philosophers by Robert Heilbroner, and The Clash of Economic Ideas by Lawrence White.

Fall 2018

The theme for the McLane/Armentrout Spring 2018 program was “ The Role of Government in a Free Society.” Participants read and discussed works by scholars such as Adam Smith, J.S. Mill, John Locke, and Karl Marx, and more contemporary works by Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Robert Nozick, and John Rawls, that examined what a variety of economists, political philosophers, and public policy experts contribute to this topic. 

The program for the Advanced Reading Group was “History of Libertarianism in the United States,” which covered Brian Doherty's lengthy book on the topicThe semester was punctuated by a series of brief readings covering events since the publication of this book in 2007, including recent challenges to libertarianism in 2018

Spring 2018

The theme for the McLane/Armentrout Spring 2018 program was “ Freedom and Human Flourishing: Poverty, Prosperity & Quality of Life around the World.” Participants read and discussed works by scholars such as George Ayittey, Daron Acemoglu, Bill Easterly, and Deirdre McCloskey that examined the role of personal freedom, markets, and culture in promoting human flourishing.  

The program for the Advanced Reading Group was “Numeracy,” which covered various perspectives on the best practical and scientific ways of thinking about data, but without any prerequisite coursework in advanced mathematics or statistics. Among the topics covered were Bayesian inference, behavioral economics, prediction markets, and the “Replication Crisis.” Readings included works by Philip Tetlock, Nate Silver, Daniel Kahneman, and Andrew Gelman. 

Fall 2017

The theme for the McLane/Armentrout Fall 2017 program was “Economics and Social Issues: Markets and the Marginalized.” Participants read and discussed work by scholars such as Claudia Goldin, Walter Williams, and Thomas Leonard that examined how disadvantaged groups fare in wealthy societies.

The program for the Advanced Reading Group was “A Brief History of Civilization,” which covered the competing and complementary explanations of the emergence of the modern world. Among these explanations are human capital, social norms, democracy, and economic freedom. The purpose was to give students a varied and subtle review of an important, disciplinary topic. Readings included works by scholars such as Deirdre McCloskey, Douglass North, Francis Fukuyama, and Daron Acemoglu.

Spring 2017

The theme for the McLane/Armentrout Spring 2017 program was “Cities, Local Government, and Local Governance” Participants will read and discuss classic and contemporary works by economists, political scientists, and urban scholars – such as Jane Jacobs, Elinor Ostrom, Edward Glaeser, Gordon Tullock, Anthony Downs, and Richard Florida.

The program for the Advanced Reading Group will be, “A Brief History of Civilization,” which will cover the competing and complementary explanations of the emergence of the modern world. Among these explanations are human capital, social norms, democracy, and economic freedom. The purpose is to give students a varied and subtle review of an important, disciplinary topic. Readings will include works by scholars such as Deirdre McCloskey, Douglass North, Francis Fukuyama, and Daron Acemoglu.

Fall 2016

In Fall 2016, two groups of students read and discussed classic and contemporary works by economists and philosophers such as G.A. Cohen and F.A. Hayek that explore the moral dimensions of market exchange. We’ll explore questions such as: Which is more just: socialism or capitalism? By what moral standard should we evaluate markets? What moral norms do markets need to function effectively? Does capitalism make us selfish? Do markets corrupt our character or destroy communities? What sorts of markets should be allowed? Should we be allowed to sell our organs, or rent our bodies?

In addition, for the first time, there was an Advanced Reading Group, directed by Ryan Murphy, open to alumni from previous reading groups. The readings were on the topic of political psychology and included readings by Bryan Caplan, Jonathan Haidt, F. A. Hayek, Matthew Ridley among others.

Spring 2016

The theme for the Spring 2016 program was “Markets & Economic Development: Does Capitalism Help the Poor?” Participants can expect to encounter the classic works of P.T. Bauer, Gunnar Myrdal, Douglass North, and Friedrich Hayek along with more recent work by Jeffrey Sachs, William Easterly, Jared Diamond, Hernando de Soto, and others. Students read classic debates about the origins of poverty from geographic, sociological and institutional views. We will then look at the history of development and economic growth examining what has worked and what hasn't in different countries. Has capitalism contributed to the recent global reduction in absolute poverty around the world?  Are there downsides?

Fall 2015

In Fall 2015, students read selections by Paul Krugman, Fredrich Bastiat, Jeffrey Miron, James Q. Wilson, Steve Horwitz, Robert Higgs, Chris Coyne, Nelson Mandela, William Hutt, Jane Jacobs, Ed Glaeser, Charles Murray, W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm, Ben Powell, Russ Sobel, Thomas Piketty, Deirdre McCloskey, Michael Clemens, and George Borjas, among others.

Spring 2015

In Spring 2015, students read selections by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, Ludwig von Mises, Oskar Lange, Friedrich Hayek, Peter Boettek, John Maynard Keynes, Joseph Schumpeter, Hernando De Soto, James Buchanan, William Baumol, and Edmund Phelps, among others. 

Spring 2014

In Spring 2015, students read Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson and David Boaz's Libertarianism: A Primer.