Educate Yourself in Economics

Walter Block, Antonie Ewing, and the UFM 0pportunity

Even a cursory study of economics at the university level reveals that the field is deeply fragmented. For a variety of reasons, there also appears to be a collectivist tendency within academia. That’s one reason why I’ve challenged the legitimacy of higher education, and that includes economics.

Walter Block, whom I came to know while in New Orleans, is a professor at Loyola University and a man who has observed his share of academic departments. He is staunchly pro-liberty, author of Ron Paul for President in 2012, and he has guided many young people through to careers in economic research, including Daniel D’Amico, who now also teaches at Loyola. So I was privileged to have him as a guest on The Stateless Man. The key question: What should one do to best educate himself in economics? Listen in below (22 minutes, MP3):

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One great part of living in our era is that you can learn in an independent manner, and both Block and I agree that Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt is a great place to start (available for free online). Beyond that, the Mises Institute and the Foundation for Economic Education have a great depth of home study and open conference options that are accessible to those new to the field. If you are a student or recent graduate, these institutions also have scholarships available for you to attend their extended seminars.

If you do believe that university education in economics is prudent, as it may be in your case, there are rigorous, liberty-friendly institutions you can go to. During the interview, Block pointed out his own institution as one to consider, and I have friends who have graduated from there and were pleased with the experience. Block has actually prepared a list of graduate schools one may wish to consider, and Peter Boettke, a fellow free market or Austrian economist, has prepared a list of universities, from bachelors to the Ph.D level, which makes for a useful starting point.

Of those that Boettke lists, George Mason University has perhaps the most visible respect for liberty among the economics faculty. It has competitive Ph.D and M.A. programs, generous fellowship support through the Mercatus Center, and many credible professors such as Larry White, Walter Williams, and Bryan Caplan. The economics club also hosts speaking engagements of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Even better still: Universidad Francisco Marroquín, Guatemala

At this point you’re probably wondering why there is a picture of a bride and groom in this article. Well, another guest I had on became a celebrity after her wedding on the top of a narrow peak in West Virginia. She and her husband-to-be were avid rock climbers and decided to tie the knot nearby where they became engaged.

Antonie Ewing is a 2008 master’s graduate of Universidad Francisco Marroquín, Guatemala City, and network relations manager with the Institute for Humane Studies, where she oversees LibertyGuide.com. She initially went to Guatemala for aid work, but she fell in love with the country and decided to stay to complete graduate studies. Listen to her interview below (21 minutes, MP3).

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While she majored in international relations and political science at UFM, the university requires all students, even those in medicine or architecture, to study at least three courses in free market economics. Perhaps that is why, along with its founder being an ardent promoter of liberty, many people dub it the “University of Free Marketeers.” Reason Magazine even prepared a video which demonstrates the international credibility this university has earned since its founding in 1972.

Despite an excellent reputation as the leading university in Guatemala, Ewing shared that her tuition came to only $5,000, and rates appear relatively unchanged since then. Almost all classes are in Spanish, so one would need to learn to graduate there, but Ewing notes that her broader experience was a big plus when she returned to the United States. She also said that professors were willing to help her when her Spanish was giving her trouble.

The positive take home news is that despite growing and warranted skepticism for higher education, as covered in an earlier episode, there are still many excellent and affordable options available. UFM, in particular, offers an education with a respect for liberty in a culturally enriching environment.

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Fergus Hodgson About Fergus Hodgson

Host and founder of the Stateless Man radio show and blog. Follow @FergHodgson.