Past Speakers

Fall 2014
Anthony Gill

"Should Churches be Taxed? The Political Economy of Religious Liberty and the US Tax Code."
Wed. Oct. 8
4 - 5 p.m. 

Anthony Gill is a professor of political science at the University of Washington, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion, and host of the weekly podcast series Research on Religion ( Most recently, he penned the book The Political Origins of Religious Liberty.

Spring 2014

Daniel Benjamin

"Greener Than Thou: Markets, Politics and the Environment"
Thursday March 27, 7-8 p.m.
Ferguson Center, Music and Theatre Hall

Daniel K. Benjamin is a professor of economics at Clemson University and a senior fellow at the Property & Environment Research Center (PERC) in Bozeman, Montana. Benjamin joined PERC in 1994 as a senior fellow and the director of the PERC Fellowship Program for graduate and law students with an interest in natural resources and the environment. During the Reagan administration, Benjamin was a deputy assistant secretary for policy and a chief of staff at the Department of Labor. Earlier, he had served as a staff economist with the President's Council of Economic Advisers. Benjamin graduated from the University of Virginia and completed his PhD. in economics in 1975 at the University of California at Los Angeles where he was a National Science Foundation Fellow. Benjamin has taught at Montana State University, the University of Washington and the University of California at Santa Barbara.

For more information contact Mrs. Dianne Williams in the Department of Economics at (757) 594-7068 or

Fall 2013
John Papola

The Beauty of Emergent Order

John Papola is an award-winning director and producer, co-founder and creative director of the firm Emergent Order, who has been working in short and long-form broadcast TV production for the past decade. He will speak on the unplanned order of nature, economics and life. His talk will describe his interest in economics and his entrepreneurial journey to make entertainment that is commercially viable that also teaches about important ideas.

Date: Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013

Time:  7 p.m.

Place:  Ferguson Center, Music & Theatre Hall

Dr. Randall G. Holcombe

Dr. Randall G. Holcombe, DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University

Friday, October 11, 11 a.m. 
David Student Union Ballroom
Free and open to the public

Dr. Randall G. Holcombe discusses how American government has evolved from one based on the idea of preserving individual liberty to a government expected to further the will of the majority. Holcombe is DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. He earned his PhD in economics from Virginia Tech, and previously taught at Texas A&M University and Auburn University. He is a senior fellow at the James Madison Institute. He served on Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors from 2000-06, and is past president of the Public Choice Society and the Society for the Development of Austrian Economics. Holcombe is the author of 12 books, most recently, Entrepreneurship and Economic Progress, and more than 100 articles in academic and professional journals.

Spring 2013

Robert Higgs


Dr. Robert Higgs, Independent Institute
FDR: Architect of His Own House of Power

Wednesday. February 27, 2013
7:30 p.m.
David Student Union, Ballroom
Reception to follow.
Event is free and open to the public.


Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy for The Independent Institute and Editor of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, and the University of Economics, Prague. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow for the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.

He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Gary Schlarbaum Award for Lifetime Defense of Liberty, Thomas Szasz Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Cause of Civil Liberties, Lysander Spooner Award for Advancing the Literature of Liberty, Friedrich von Wieser Memorial Prize for Excellence in Economic Education, and Templeton Honor Rolls Award on Education in a Free Society.

Dr. Higgs is the editor of The Independent Institute books Opposing the Crusader State, The Challenge of Liberty, Re-Thinking Green, Hazardous to Our Health? and Arms, Politics, and the Economy, plus the volume Emergence of the Modern Political Economy.

He is also the author of Delusions of Power, Depression, War, and Cold War, Neither Liberty Nor Safety, Politická ekonomie strachu (The Political Economy of Fear, in Czech), Resurgence of the Warfare State, Against Leviathan, The Transformation of the American Economy 1865-1914, Competition and Coercion, and Crisis and Leviathan. A contributor to numerous scholarly volumes, he is the author of more than 100 articles and reviews in academic journals.  ~ Courtesy of the Independent Institute

Fall 2012

Paul Zak

Dr. Paul J. Zak 

Claremont Graduate University
"The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity"

Paul Zak is a scientist, prolific author, entrepreneur, and public speaker. He is the founding Director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies and Professor of Economics, Psychology and Management at Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Zak also serves as Professor of Neurology at Loma Linda University Medical Center. He has degrees in mathematics and economics from San Diego State University, a Ph.D. in economics from University of Pennsylvania, and post-doctoral training in neuroimaging from Harvard. He is credited with the first published use of the term "neuroeconomics" and has been a vanguard in this new discipline. He organized and administers the first doctoral program in neuroeconomics. Dr. Zak's lab discovered in 2004 that the brain chemical oxytocin allows us to determine who to trust. His current research has shown that oxytocin is responsible for virtuous behaviors, working as the brain's "moral molecule." This knowledge is being used to understand the basis for civilization and modern economies, improve negotiations, and treat patients with neurologic and psychiatric disorders. He discusses this work in a brand new book, The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity (Dutton, 2012).

Dr. Mark Thornton

Senior Fellow, Ludwig von Mises Institute

"Rhett Butler and the Demise of the Confederacy"

Feburary 22, 2012


Mark Thornton is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He serves as the book review editor of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. He served as the editor of the Austrian Economics Newsletter and as a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Libertarian Studies. He has served as a member of the graduate faculties of Auburn University and Columbus State University. He has also taught economics at Auburn University at Montgomery and Trinity University in Texas. Thornton served as assistant superintendent of banking and economic adviser to Governor Fob James of Alabama (1997-1999) and he was awarded the University Research Award at Columbus State University in 2002. His publications include The Economics of Prohibition (1991); Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War (2004); The Quotable Mises (2005); The Bastiat Collection (2007); and An Essay on Economic Theory (2010). He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University and earned his PhD in economics from Auburn University.

Karol Boudreaux

Africa Land Tenure Specialist, USAID

"A New Direction for Africa? Opportunities & Challenges"

November 3, 2011

Boudreaux in the field

Karol Boudreaux's research focuses on contemporary Africa and how institutional arrangements have either helped or hindered human flourishing and economic development. She has conducted field research in eight African countries and published more than 25 articles, policy papers and book chapters. She previously taught a seminar on law and international development at the George Mason University (GMU) School of Law, where she has served as both an instructor and assistant dean. Boudreaux is also a former senior research fellow at GMU's Mercatus Center and a past member of the Working Group on Property Rights of the U.N.'s Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor.

Dr. Deirdre McCloskey

University of Illinois at Chicago

"Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World"

April 8, 2011

Loren Lomasky

Considered a pioneer in her field, McCloskey holds a doctorate in economics from Harvard. She has written 14 books and edited seven more, and has published some 360 articles. McCloskey’s current project, which has already produced Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World (2010) and Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce (2006), consists of a multi disciplinary exploration of capitalism.

To see Dr. McCloskey's latest projects, visit her web site at

Dr. Loren Lomasky

University of Virginia

"Liberty After Lehman Brothers"

March 16, 2011

Loren Lomasky

Loren Lomasky is Cory Professor of Political Philosophy, Policy and Law, and director of the Political Philosophy, Policy and Law Program. Professor Lomasky is best known for his work in moral and political philosophy. His book Persons, Rights, and the Moral Community (Oxford University Press, 1987) established his reputation as a leading advocate of a rights-based approach to moral and social issues. He co-authored with G. Brennan Democracy and Decision: The Pure Theory of Electoral Preference (Cambridge University Press, 1993) and co-edited with G. Brennan Politics and Process: New Essays in Democratic Theory (Cambridge University Press, 1989). Lomasky has been the recipient of many awards including the 1991 Matchette Prize for his book Persons, Rights, and the Moral Community. Professor Lomasky has held research appointments sponsored by the NEH, the Center for the Study of Public Choice, the Australian National University and Bowling Green's Social Philosophy and Policy Center. Professor Lomasky's teaching interests include the philosophy of religion, medieval philosophy and other episodes in the history of philosophy as well as many topics in moral and political philosophy.

Dr. Jerry L. Jordan

Former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

"The Fallacy of Economic Stimulus"

November 16, 2010

Jerry Jordan

Dr. Jordan earned his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California at Los Angeles.  He currently serves as President of Pacific Academy for Advance Studies. He is a former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, served as senior vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and had a long career in commercial banking.  Dr. Jordan was a member of President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisors in 1981-82 and served on the U.S. Gold Commission during those same years.  He is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society and a past president of the National Association of Business Economists.

Dr. Russell Roberts

George Mason University

"Capitalism After the Crisis"

Spring 2010

Russell Roberts

Dr. Roberts is the J. Fish and Lillian F. Smith Distinguished Scholar at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center and a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. His latest book is The Price of Everything: A Parable of Possibility and Prosperity. Roberts is host of the weekly podcast series “EconTalk” and co-blogs at “Cafe Hayek.” He is a frequent commentator on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.” In addition to numerous academic publications, he has written for The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He is a founding advisory board member of the Library of Economics and Liberty website. Before coming to George Mason, Dr. Roberts was at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. While there he was founding director of the Center for Experiential Learning at the John M. Olin School of Business and a senior fellow at the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government and Public Policy.

Dr. Michael Munger

Duke University

"The (In)Justice of Exchange"

Fall 2009

Michael Munger

Dr. Munger is Professor & Chair, Department of Political Science and Professor, Departments of Economics and Public Policy at Duke University. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Washington University in St. Louis in 1984. Following his graduate training, he was a staff economist at the Federal Trade Commission before entering academia. His research interests include the study of ideology, legislative institutions, elections and public policy, especially campaign finance. In addition to more than 80 articles and papers published in professional journals and edited volumes, Dr. Munger has co-authored or co-edited (with Melvin Hinich) three books: Ideology and the Theory of Political Choice (1994), Analytical Politics (1997) and Empirical Studies in Comparative Politics (1998). His fourth and most recent book, Analyzing Policy: Choices, Conflicts and Practices, was published in 2000.

Dr. Robert A. Lawson

Auburn University

"Economic Freedom of the World”

Spring 2009

Dr. Lawson is the co-author of the widely-cited Economic Freedom of the World annual report which provides an economic freedom index for over 140 countries. Lawson has numerous professional publications in journals such as Public Choice, Cato Journal, Kyklos, Journal of Labor Research, Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, and European Journal of Political Economy. He has served as president of the Association of Private Enterprise Education and is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society. He blogs regularly at He earned his B.S. in economics from the Honors Tutorial College at Ohio University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in economics from Florida State University.

Dr. Bryan Caplan

"The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies"

Fall 2008

Bryan Caplan

Bryan Caplan is an Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University and an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute. His articles have appeared in the American Economic Review, the Economic Journal, the Journal of Law and Economics, Social Science Quarterly, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and many other outlets. Caplan earned his B.A. in Economics from UC - Berkeley and his Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton.

Bryan Caplan is the author of The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies (2008) and Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think (2011).

His webpage,, features both his academic research and his numerous other interests, including the online Museum of Communism.

Bryan Caplan blogs on EconLog along with Arnold Kling and David Henderson.

Dr. Tyler Cowen

George Mason University

 “How to Control Other People”

Spring 2007

Dr. Tyler Cowen, Professor of Economics at George Mason University and at the Center for the Study of Public Choice, spoke on the importance of incentives in “How to Control Other People.”

Cowen received his PhD in Economics from Harvard University in 1987. At George Mason University, he is also director of the Mercatus Center. Many of his academic writings focus on the economics of the arts, the economics of celebrity, and the globalization of culture. He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal,, The Wilson Quarterly, Newsweek, and numerous other media outlets.

The blog he co-writes with Alex Tabarrok,, was called one of the four best economics sites on the Web by The Wall Street Journal and the number one economics blog in the world by

In his book Discover Your Inner Economist, Cowen shows how the logic of economics applies far more widely than just to the decisions of government and big business. With a light, even amusing touch, he reveals how to use the hidden economic principles behind everyday situations to get what we really want.

Cowen is also author of:

Modern Principles: Macroeconomics, with Alex Tabarrok, Freeman Worth, 2009.
Create Your Own Economy: The Path to Prosperity in a Disordered World, Dutton, 2009.
An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodie, Dutton, April 2012.

Dr. Jonathan Wight

University of Richmond

 “Adam Smith and the Moral Foundations of Capitalism”

Fall 2007

Jonathan Wight

Dr. Jonathan Wight is a Professor of Economics & International Studies in the University of Richmond’s Robins School of Business, where he has won Outstanding Teaching and Outstanding Service Awards.

Born in Washington, D.C., he spent his youth in Africa and Latin America. He earned a B.A. from Duke University and a Ph.D. in economics at Vanderbilt University, where he was a Danforth Fellow. His paper, "A Little Adam Smith is a Dangerous Thing," received the 2001 Paxton Award for Outstanding Paper presented by the International Association of Torch Clubs. Other articles on Smith include, "Will the Real Adam Smith Please Stand Up? Teaching Social Economics in the Principles Course," and "The Rise of Adam Smith: Articles and Citations, 1970-97." In other research he co-authored a book on health care financing and numerous articles on international economic development.

Dr. Eric Daniels

Clemson University

"The Moral Foundations of Capitalism"

Fall 2006

Eric Daniels

Dr. Eric Daniels is a Research Assistant Professor at Clemson University's Institute for the Study of Capitalism. He previously served as a postdoctoral fellow and visiting assistant professor at Duke University's Program on Values and Ethics in the Marketplace, where he was nominated for a teaching award. In addition, Daniels has taught at the University of Wisconsin, where he earned his doctorate in American history. He has lectured internationally on the history of American ethics, American business and entrepreneurship, and the American Enlightenment. He has appeared on C-SPAN's "American Writers" series and his articles have appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the San Diego Business Journal. Daniels's other publications include a chapter in The Abolition of Antitrust and five entries in the Oxford Companion to United States History. Most recently, he co-authored the U.S. Economic Freedom Index, 2008 Report.