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So What Are You Doing This Summer?

March 30, 2011

Summer is fast approaching, and that means it’s going to be time for some of my favorite summer traditions: week-long seminars on economics, political theory, and philosophy aimed at the study of liberty. I have attended and taught at seminars sponsored by the Mises Institute, the Foundation for Economic Education, and the Institute for Humane Studies. This summer, I’m teaching at an IHS “Liberty and Society” seminar at Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia. A friend from IHS asked me to mention that the application deadline for IHS summer seminars is tomorrow. Here’s a quick rundown.

1. Mises University. I don’t know that I have words to describe Mises U. I attended Mises U and the Rothbard Graduate Seminar for the first time after my first year of grad school: I attended the Mises U sessions during the day and studied for the PhD preliminary exams at night. I didn’t go in college because I was in the marching band and decided that this more immediate and visible commitment was more important because I was getting a small scholarship for it. I realize now that this was a mistake. I should have dropped band and gone to Mises U instead as I still have (and occasionally refer to) my notes from Mises U and RGS 2002 and 2003. Incidentally, my roommate in 2002 was Philipp Bagus, who you might recognize. I still refer to and use some of the online lectures from Mises Universities past in my teaching and writing. The deadline for Mises U is April 8.

2. FEE. I attended the FEE Summer Seminar in Austrian Economics in 2003. It was amazing. I still have (and refer to) my notes from it, as well. The deadline to apply for FEE seminars is tomorrow.

3. Institute for Humane Studies Summer Seminars. I’ve been teaching at these since 2008, and they’re an amazing opportunity. You get to spend a lot of time discussing important ideas with members of the faculty in a multi-disciplinary setting, and you will be part of an excellent cohort of young scholars. I’m teaching at the Liberty and Society seminar at Bryn Mawr in July, and I’m excited that I will be joined on the faculty by Tullock Prize and Kirzner Prize winner Daniel D’Amico. The deadline to apply is tomorrow.

What will you gain? I’m glad you asked. In 2008, 2009, and 2010, I’ve written bits of advice for summer seminar attendees. When you are finished, you will have lots of new ideas and new reasoning skills that will make you a better thinker and a better writer.

So which ones should you attend? In all seriousness, I say apply for all of them. Indeed, it won’t be unusual to run into students from Europe who are doing the complete circuit of IHS, FEE, and Mises seminars. The opportunity cost is not zero, but speaking from experience, I can assure you that these seminars are well worth your time and energy. They are also, in my humble opinion, worth an hour of independent study credit at any institution if you take careful notes and write a short paper about what you learned.

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