1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar
Source link: http://archive.mises.org/17095/career-advice-for-the-aspiring-austrian-economist-from-larry-sechrest/

Career Advice for the Aspiring Austrian Economist from Larry Sechrest

May 25, 2011 by

Larry Sechrest, who passed away much too young was a good friend, a great teacher and a productive scholar of varied interests who was trained as an economist. But most of all, he was a committed and intransigent seeker of truth in the cause of liberty. In his autobiographical essay written for Walter Block’s collection I Chose Liberty, Larry offered sage advice for students of Austrian economics who aspire to pursue an academic career in economics:

[T]he course of study at UTA [University of Texas Arlington, where Larry earned his PhD] was quite mainstream. There were, as I recall, four semesters of econometrics and two semesters of mathematical economics, for example. Moreover, virtually every class in the Ph.D. program required that the student write an econometrically based term paper. I would like to say that I strongly believe all graduate students interested in the Austrian School, despite the reservations they may have about mainstream methodology (reservations I share), will benefit from undergoing a similar course of study. To do otherwise is to shut ourselves off entirely from the rest of the economics profession. And we cannot persuade them of the “error of their ways” if we cannot speak in terms familiar to them. . . .

I would like to offer some hopefully encouraging observations for the benefit of young libertarians and/or Austrians seeking an academic career. It is not necessary that you do your graduate work at an elite university, nor that you achieve a faculty position at such an institution. There can be no doubt that both are helpful, but neither is ultimately essential. I have done neither, and yet I have achieved some reasonable degree of success in my field. Many will also advise you to hide your libertarian sentiments and your interest in Austrian economics, at least until you have obtained secure employment. That might be prudent under certain circumstances, but I did not do that either. What is essential is that you follow your mind and heart wherever they lead you. Treat your own independent judgment as something sacred. And please keep in mind Herman Melville’s admonition: “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”


frank May 25, 2011 at 11:56 am

It is difficult to know what is truly good without having experienced evil. The value of Austrian Theory can not be fully recognized without being exposed to the foolishness of econometric modeling.

Dean Wilson May 25, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Judging only from undergraduate economics, including econometrics, it’s hard to imagine going on to graduate school for more after being exposed to the eye-opening clarity of Mises, Rothbard, et al. The temptation is to believe that any more time spent “experiencing evil” would be, in a sense, wasted. But Larry urges otherwise. As a law student I think I may agree after all. I couldn’t take reading Coase (and Posner) without being able to read Block, North, etc. to help pinpoint their errors, and presumably the same would apply when doing meritless “empirical analysis” but knowing Human Action was waiting at home.

It’s a shame that the best option isn’t yet completely viable (though perhaps soon?): an Austrian-taught graduate-level course on Mises Academy explaining the crazy, pseudo-rational world of the mainstream. What would that take, 8 weeks? Understanding the basis and the futility of the mathematics has to be easier if you don’t have to pretend to believe it and can treat it like the theory of phlogiston.

My goodness, “Degrees of Freedom” could be the motto for the Mises Academy!

Stephan Kinsella May 25, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I often am asked about legal or IP career too–here is my stock response now: Advice for Prospective Libertarian Law Students.

Bruce Koerber May 25, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Is Divine Economy Theory About to Emerge From Obscurity?

I am about to embark on an entrepreneurial enterprise that is academic in nature. There is no reason that entrepreneurship cannot be the means to fill the great void in the economic education of the people around the world who have been starved and even poisoned by the economic fallacies promulgated by the ego-driven interpreters and the ego-driven interventionists.

If I was afraid of scrutiny I would not venture down this road to liberty and justice.

geo November 1, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Very nice words coming from Herman Melville. Being original makes us unique and outstanding to all.
Job Agencies Melbourne

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: