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A Summer Fellow Discusses Her Academic Future

  • Audrey Redford
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12/16/2014Audrey Redford

Volume 32, no. 11 (November 2014)

Mises Institute: How did you first become familiar with the Mises Institute?

Audrey Redford: I had heard of the Mises Institute in passing a couple of times while I was an undergraduate student and through reading some of Dr. Mark Thornton’s work, but it was not until my first year as a PhD student (2012–13) that I really became familiar with what the Mises Institute had to offer. In order to get a solid foundation in Austrian price theory, my advisor suggested that I attend Mises University. I attended Mises University in 2013, and it was there that I first met the Mises Institute faculty, including Dr. Thornton, and learned about the summer fellowship program.

MI: Why did you decide to pursue an academic career?

AR: It was a combination of several things during my junior and senior year of college that led me to pursue an academic career. I think the biggest push was realizing, primarily through conversations with friends and professors at an economics book club, that I enjoyed talking about economics. I left classes and book club sessions wanting to learn more and to research topics brought up in the conversations and debates. It also gave me a path to study the War on Drugs, which has consistently been an interest of mine since middle school, and will hopefully give me an outlet to disseminate a lot of the knowledge and information that I have acquired about the harmful outcomes of drug prohibition.

MI: What convinced you to apply to become a Mises Fellow?

AR: The ability to work closely with Dr. Thornton was the main reason why I applied to be a Mises Fellow. My dissertation research is on the dynamics of intervention in the War on Drugs, so when the opportunity arose to work down the hall from someone whose research I closely followed and built on, I had to jump on it.

MI: What was the nature of your academic work while at the Mises Institute?

AR: I was working on a dissertation chapter that looks at the origins of narcotics control and prohibition in the United States. More specifically, I was writing about the unintended consequences of federal intervention into the smoking opium markets in the late nineteenth century. Specifically, I looked at how those unintended consequences created many of the problems later, and which interventions like the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914 sought to correct. This was a direct application of many of the points made in Mises’s Interventionism: An Economic Analysis on how intervention begets future interventions.

MI: What was your favorite part of being a Fellow?

AR: As I mentioned, working with Dr. Thornton was a great and very helpful experience. It really was a fantastic luxury to be able to interact with an eminent scholar in my line of research on such a frequent basis. Working and engaging with the other Fellows was incredibly productive and fun. We bounced ideas off one another in an environment that was constructive and rigorous, but also pleasant and approachable.

MI: How have your experiences with the Mises Institute affected your plans for the future and future academic work?

AR: Being a Summer Fellow reaffirmed my desire to be an academic. It reminded me why I got into this line of work in the first place, and that was to research subjects that I enjoy and to interact with other scholars while we learn from one another. During my time as a Fellow, I was introduced to new articles and books that will help me with future research projects. I also got a lot of feedback about writing styles and presentation methods that will definitely help me in my future, particularly on the road to applying for my first academic position.

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