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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/9075/the-case-for-an-undergrad-degree-at-loyola-u/

The Case for an Undergrad Degree at Loyola U

December 9, 2008 by

I regard Grove City College and Loyola University New Orleans as the best two places in the U.S., heck, on the entire planet, for young people interested in an Austro libertarian undergraduate education, where cultural Marxism will not be shoved down their throats. Or, rather, where this will be minimized, compared to other colleges. Both are very good private religious schools. I think any young person interested in this perspective would have a great undergraduate education at either of them.

However, as a member of the faculty of the latter, let me outline the advantages, as I see them, for my own school.

1. We have more Austrian economists on our faculty then they do on theirs. At Grove, the only Austrian economists are Jeff Herbener and Shawn Ritenour. At Loyola, in addition to me, there are Bill Barnett, Stuart Wood and Dan D’Amico. Plus, my economics department colleague John Levendis is sympathetic and open to these views, although not convinced of them.

2. We have more publications than them in both Austrian and non Austrian journals, certainly in total, but, also, I’m pretty sure, per capita. (This is a traditional way of comparing faculties.)


3. We absolutely exceed them in terms of number of professors and number of students who regularly attend Mises Institute events. Typically, some 3-5 professors, and over a dozen students, can be found at the ASC, the Summit and the MU. Why is this important? In indicates that there are not only more Austro libertarian professors at Loyola than Grove City, but more students of this persuasion. And why, in turn, is that important? One of the chief determinants of happiness at a university for a newcomer is the number of friends made. And friends, usually, share a political economic philosophy. If there are more such students at Loyola, then the chances are that a new freshman of this orientation will be able to link up with them.

4. Since I have arrived at Loyola, two of my former students now have faculty jobs in economics departments (Dan D’Amico is one of them), and 3-4 others are now in graduate schools earning their Ph.D.s in economics. At present, there are another dozen undergraduate students who are planning such careers. I have no information on Grove City in this regard, but, it is unlikely it can match us in this regard, given above considerations.

5. We have regularly scheduled Austrian seminars (monthly), libertarian seminars (monthly), and economics club meetings (twice monthly) where Austrian and libertarian related topics are covered. Both students and faculty attend. Our Austrian seminar is regularly attended by faculty at other universities. Thus, in addition to classes taken with sympathetic professors, there are opportunities to interact with them and like minded students on a weekly basis.

6. Although libertarianism and Austrianism are in different universes of discourse, students interested in the latter are often interested in the former. In this regard, we have several other professors at Loyola, apart from those already mentioned, who are very appreciative of the free enterprise, private property, limited government philosophy: Nick Capaldi in business ethics, Lee Mundell in statistics, Patrick Lynch and Lee Yao in accounting, Jim Viator and David Gruning in law, Jerry Goolsby in marketing, Ron Christner in finance, Bill Walkenhorst in chemistry (no, that is not a typographical error: he regularly attends our seminars). Our college president, Fr. Kevin Wildes, S.J., has published libertarian oriented papers in scholarly journals; he is very open to diversity of ideas, something rare for a college president. Roger White, associate provost, is also sympathetic to free enterprise. Let anyone else top that.

Here is a suggestion: google all these people, plus those mentioned and others at Grove City. This will give you a better comparison.

I must acknowledge that the Austro libertarian professors at Loyola University New Orleans are in the distinct minority. There are only about a dozen of us, in a faculty of several hundred. As at most other universities, faculty members of the humanities and other social science departments are not at all sympathetic to classical liberalism, laissez faire capitalism.

What of considerations in picking a school apart from the academic and scholarly? Yes, New Orleans has had hurricanes, and will, likely, again. But, typically, we get a 7 day warning before their onset. In contrast, earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, etc., which occur elsewhere, strike almost instantaneously.

{ 16 comments }

Michael December 9, 2008 at 10:08 am

Dr. Block,

Good luck. Of course, if one’s misconceived notions about a “difficult” topic are challenged using FACTS, this is a likely and predicable response, especially in most Leftist circles.

TJAndriesen December 9, 2008 at 10:35 am

Wow,

So Hillsdale College, where Mises left his personal library and where the college is actually runaccording to free market principles, and not on the public till doesn’t even make the list. I note the faculty there is more interested in teaching about free market and Austrian concepts than than writing sophmoristic “my school is better than your school” blogs…

prettyskin December 9, 2008 at 10:44 am

Peddling your college so that you can keep your job; that’s all this article is, say it ain’t so Walter. Can’t try you hands in the real market place, can’t you? Let that job go.

Luke Morris December 9, 2008 at 10:56 am

As a Hillsdale graduate, I have to express reservations to the previous comment. Hillsdale is a fantastic little liberal arts school, they do have one or two faculty members in their EBA department who teach econ from an Austrian perspective, and many faculty members throughout the school are libertarian-leaning or at least sympathetic. Most of the school, however, is distinctly conservative in its political outlook.

When I first got to Hillsdale (in the Fall of 2001), the libertarian club on campus was all but defunct, and I re-formed it as the Hillsdale Classical Liberals the following year. We attracted a good number of intelligent and like-minded students, and had numerous faculty advisors (including Richard Ebeling, Bob Murphy, and Burt Folsom). Still, we were isolated by the school’s Right-wing mainstream. We proud few were the only voices on campus protesting the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and we got in a bit of trouble for that.

I would still highly recommend Hillsdale for students wishing to study the foundational principles of Western Civilization, as well as those who seek to learn more about the ideas of liberty. But if libertarianism and the Austrian tradition are important to you, check out Grove City, Loyola, and George Mason as well. Hilldale is still good, but it’s no longer the proud beacon of liberty it was once purported to be.

James December 9, 2008 at 11:06 am

I don’t really get this rant, but this is one case where George Mason is not the Cinderella, but the #1 seed.

Inquisitor December 9, 2008 at 11:35 am

Prettyskin, you’re aware that a college degree or job is necessary for intellectuals to be taken seriously, right? I doubt Walter feels any attachment to his university in particular. This is more about options for young Austrians to get degrees whilst learning Austrian econ, rather than pimping particular schools.

Leigh December 9, 2008 at 11:47 am

Just a quick factual point. Many of the arguments are based upon numbers. To put things into perspective, Loyola University has roughly 10,000 undergraduate students while Grove City College has around 2,500.

Doug December 9, 2008 at 12:22 pm

At around $18000 per year, GCC is a very good economical choice.

JS December 9, 2008 at 12:54 pm

Leigh -
FYI – Loyola University New Orleans has 2685 undergrads and about 1900 graduate students.

Bruce Koerber December 9, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Where is the best place to get an education these days?

First we have to decide what ‘education’ is. Then we have to decide if getting an ‘education’ at an institution that may be tottering on obsolescence is worth the money.

Will attending classes be educational? Will attending classes that are required but which are filled with either erroneous information or useless information be educational?

With the transition happening in the world economy will a paper degree from a known entity (but weak in real knowledge) be the open door you are looking for? Will you be competing only against others who also have comparable degrees from comparable programs or will you be competing against those who have sharp entrepreneurial skills. Is perceiving the inadequacy of an education system that is approaching obsolescence not a sufficient demonstration of entrepreneurial skills?

So what is the end? Is it what Walter Block seems to imply: becoming a professor (a professor in Austro libertarian undergraduate education)?

What if the whole system is flawed? What if ‘education’ will look different in a classical liberalism society? What if casting behind us things that are obsolete is a necessary condition to reach the education worthy of a classical liberalism society?

As suggested by Mises, if we can lecture and write books about economics we will render a great service and that does not restrict us to a rigid system that operates within the constraints of empiricism and political correctness.

tjandriesen December 9, 2008 at 3:17 pm

Luke,

Thanks for the feedback. I have a son studying economics there at the moment and a daughter about to attend. As someone who has been involved in markets all my life professionally, I was keen to find an economic program with a strong free market bias. There are indeed some strong social conservatives at Hillsdale but in general I think the quality of the economics program more than makes up for that. The current faculty of Charles Steel, Nikolai Wenzel and Gary Wolfram, at least in my conversations with them, are staunchly free market.

What was perhaps equally important to me was that within the financial market I travel (business not personal), Hillsdales is a well know name while the others mention are simply less know. If Libertarian and free market causes are to be forwarded, it won’t be by writing research papers but rather by developing young leaders who can apply these concepts in the real world, earning real profits and having the ability to get in the door to do so. If these other schools do this, then it’s fantastic that young people have choices.

Sukrit December 9, 2008 at 7:29 pm

It should be compulsory for Austrian economists to obtain their economics degrees at places where they DON’T teach Austrian economics.

That way, they have a better grasp on the neo-classical economics they so frequently criticize.

Inquisitor December 9, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Most Austrians of course who criticise neoclassical econ a) already have degrees in economics b) have done reading and research over and above that. If you mean to imply Austrians are ignorant of neoclassical econ, please rethink that argument. OTOH, even degrees with Austrian econ still have substantial elements of neoclassical econ. So why that comment was made is beyond me…

Curtis Zwick December 9, 2008 at 8:44 pm

The previous poster makes a very good point. I am a strong believer in knowing your intellectual enemies, preferably even better than they know themselves. Without a very strong grasp of the opponent’s theories you cannot really intelligently and thoroughly refute them.
The fact is though that it is basically unavoidable in getting an education in economics. I am bombarded by statist, Keynesian nonsense on a daily basis, and make an effort to absorb it. What I wouldn’t give for a professor that was even remotely pro-market or anti-statist though, they are all collectivists and central-planners.

Sukrit December 10, 2008 at 5:31 am

What I mean is, if someone is interested in doing a PhD in economics they shouldn’t take Walter Block’s advice. Instead of applying to Loyola (where there are many people of the same libertarian/Austrian disposition), it is better to apply to a bastion of left-wing Keynesian or neoclassical thought, in order to get a firm grounding in economics from the mainstream perspective. Only then can you confidently critique the mainstream.

Some of the most influential Austrian economists got their degrees from schools that ignore Austrian economics, e.g. Walter Block (Columbia), Rothbard (Columbia), Robert Higgs (John Hopkins) etc. It is good to be trained by statists so that you thoroughly understand the weaknesses of their methodology/arguments.

Don’t try and be among friends when doing your PhD, is my advice.

Inquisitor December 10, 2008 at 12:46 pm

Right, I see your point, but I don’t think Block is discouraging anyone from learning mainstream econ. But you’re correct, it’s important to master the mainstream’s arguments as well as Austrian arguments. Most schools offering Austrian econ (e.g. Loyola, GMU, NYU) do prescribe it anyway.

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