From June 13th through 15th, over 40 college-aged students flocked from all over the world to Chapman University for the opportunity to explore several new economic and entrepreneurial insights. Over the span of three days, the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) presented a range of topics by recognized professors and provided various moments to interact with the fellow students, staff, and lecturers.
With check-in ending at 4 PM, the first day’s lectures were short, but they were enough to warm up the room for the rest of the seminar. To start off, Jason Brennan of Georgetown University gave the attendees a brief overview of what was to come for the next couple of days, going over basic economic history and fundamental questions that resurfaced over the course of the week. After breaking for dinner, the participants returned to the conference room to break off into small discussion groups and go over the pre-course material assigned online, which included reading passages from Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. FEE provided a chance to socialize with everyone at a local diner, creating a fun time filled with mingling and milkshakes once the discussion was over.
After the warm welcome from the first day, it was straight to business after breakfast, with Daniel D’Amico of Brown University presenting several principles of economics and Abigail Blanco of the University of Tampa discussing a different view on anarchy. After the two lectures, the FEE staff created an activity on trading: giving each participant a bag of goodies and providing different rules of exchanging the goods, simulating a hands-on version of different types of trade. After lunch, the students returned to the conference room to discuss economic versus political means with D’Amico and listen to guest speaker Randy Simmons explain how to solve the “bad neighbor problem.” Following a quick break, Brennan showed a detailed view as to why socialism typically falls short historically, and the day ended with another discussion group session where the seminar attendees broke up into groups to examine any topics brought up that day or from the pre-course material.
On the final day of the seminar, the lectures began with Blanco addressing the relationships between public interest, choice, and policy makers. The FEE staffers then brought another activity to the day, illustrating how different economies work and with what regulations. Attendees then broke up into their last discussion groups and paused for lunch. For the first lecture after lunch, D’Amico brought graphs in to display on price floors and minimum wage, and Blanco provided situations that many face every day during her lecture on how to improve society and how to better engage with others. Brennan closed the lectures by exemplifying capitalism and morals. The seminar concluded with a faculty Q&A with all three professors and a last social hour at the same diner from the first day.
In short, FEE’s Power and Influence seminar was an excellent experience to expand one’s economic knowledge, and it provided alternative views on the typical topics of any regular economics class. With a stellar panel of professors and equally helpful employees, there was not a second wasted. This seminar was a great opportunity for students eager to engage with economic ideals, inspiring active minds and sparking deeper levels of interest in the social sciences around us.
Photos and Story By Sharon Arana