REVIEWS AND COMMENTARY
Living Economics: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Hayek Program Podcast
How did Roger Koppl become interested in economics? How did scholars such as Israel Kirzner and William Baumol influence his work throughout his career? What opportunities are there for future study within the realm of complex systems theory and computability in Austrian economics? On this episode, Professor Roger Koppl discusses with Hayek Program Director Peter Boettke.
What is the impact of James M. Buchanan's contributions to political economic thought and the fields of law, ethics, and political science? How can his body of work be applied to explore the present and future relevance of his scholarly contributions and insights?
Collectively, the lectures over the past few weeks explore the continuing relevance of the Austrian school of economics as a progressive and enduring research program in contemporary economics and political economy. On this episode of the Hayek Program Podcast, Hayek Program Director Peter Boettke gives an overview of the previous lectures and invites listeners on an intellectual exploration of the potential applications of the mainline economic tradition.
Hayek Program Senior Fellow Jayme Lemke sat down with Hayek Program Director Peter Boettke to discuss the commonalities among the three approaches to understanding the social world discussed previously in this series: Austrian economics, public choice economics, and the Bloomington School’s multiple-methods, real-world approach to institutional analysis.
Hayek Program Senior Fellow Jayme Lemke sat down with Hayek Program Director Peter Boettke to discuss the Bloomington School of Political Economy in this wide-ranging interview. They discuss the Ostroms’ approach to understanding self-governing societies, their use of multiple methodologies, and the continuing relevance of the Bloomington School to current research in political economy.
A Tribute to Paul Heyne (1931-2000)
by Douglass North
(From the archive of Douglass North)
On a rare occasion, if you are fortunate, you will run across an individual who lives and acts upon the ideals that we profess. I was fortunate. Paul Heyne came into my life in 1975. Out of the blue, he sent me a letter that began as follows:
I’m going to be moving to Seattle at the end of the current academic year and I’d like to find a college or university in the city at which I could be an economics teacher. Those are two separate decisions. I’ll be moving to Seattle whether or not I find a position in an economics department there. But teaching and especially the teaching of introductory economics is one of the things I think I do well and something I would continue doing.
I had assumed the chairmanship of the department of economics at the University of Washington in 1967 and set out to make it one of the best in the country. My definition of best included not only scholarly eminence, which we were in the process of achieving, but the effective, caring teaching of the multitude of undergraduates that populated a large state university. The University played lip service to good teaching but the reward system was geared to publication and most, but not all, of my colleagues acted accordingly. Shortly after assuming the chairmanship, I decided I should go back to teaching the introductory course to see just what we did. I was dismayed to find that it had not changed an iota form my undergraduate days. The textbooks were full of the formal jargon of economic theory elucidating the perfectly competitive model, imperfect competition a la Chamberlin and Joan Robinson, and monopoly replete with all the marginal analysis and appropriate graphs. Following the tradition, I was in the midst or my fourth lecture on perfect competition illustrating it with the case of American agriculture when a student in the back of the auditorium noisily took exception to what I was saying. I thought I would teach him a lesson and invited him the address the class, explaining himself. He did, describing effectively the myriad of price supports, milk marketing acts, sugar production subsidies, etc. that pervaded agriculture and made it far from the competitive model. I slunk back to my office and began a search for a more effect teaching program. I was some year into an attempt when Paul’s letter arrived. I wrote back asking what he would like to do as a teacher. His reply, in part:
I would like to teach at a college whose faculty was enthusiastically committed to providing a liberal education for undergraduates. I would like to be a member of a faculty that was continuously asking about the nature and significance of liberal education and looking critically at its own efforts to provide one. The members of such a faculty would use their own disciplines as bases for venturing into other disciplines and not as castles within which to enjoy untroubled lives. In the college of my fantasies, there would be some core requirements for all to satisfy; not so much because anyone can specify particular knowledge that a liberally educated person must have as because a liberal arts college requires some common core if it wants to be a lively intellectual community. Mastery of the core would be expected first of all of faculty members. (I’ve often thought how much more profitable faculty curriculum discussions would be if every faculty member knew that he would be taking all courses imposed on undergraduates and that his colleagues would be evaluating any course he himself wanted to offer in the common core.)
Paul left a tenured professorship at Southern Methodist university to come to Washington as a non-tenured lecturer and he retained that untenured rank until he died in March 2000. I am not sure we lived up to Paul’s fantasies of the ideal faculty; I know we didn’t but he did change the way economics was taught at the University; revamping the undergraduate program, overhauling the introductory course, and meeting regularly with the graduate teaching assistant to improve the quality of their teaching. But much more than that, Paul was a continuing inspiration for those of us who took seriously a quality liberal education for undergraduates.
The Economic Way of Thinking embodies Paul’s approach to economics and to a liberal education. It was a radical change from the textbooks of the time. Its focus on the problems of a society and the way in which economic reasoning could shed light on those problems made economics interesting to the students. More than that, the book recognized that the strength of economics was precisely described in the title of the book – as a way of thinking. Comprehending that way of thinking was, and continues to be, the revolutionary contribution of economics to the social sciences and to a better understanding of the world around us.
I open the seminar for freshmen that I teach every fall with a lecture on Paul, the human being – his Seminary education, ordination, the way he got drawn into economics, and the way he combined a rigorous economics (and make no mistake about it, Paul’s economics is rigorous) with a broad and active concern for community and social welfare. He believed in individual freedom and the demands that that freedom imposed on responsible human beings. And he and his wife, Julie, lived their lives accordingly.