Phi Beta Cons

The Alexander Hamilton Institute’s Superb Colloquium

Last week, the Alexander Hamilton Institute hosted its eighth annual Carl B. Menges Colloquium. The topic of discussion was timely — Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and the Rule of Law: How to Return America to Prosperity. Duke’s Michael Munger gave the keynote address and the six panels, three each on Friday and Saturday, explored a wide array of readings from writers as varied as Alexis de Tocqueville, Israel Kirzner, and Joseph Stiglitz.

The colloquium was open to the public and quite a few students from schools in the area attended: Hamilton, Skidmore, Colgate, University of Rochester, and Rochester Institute of Technology. At the end of each panel, half an hour was set aside for questions from the audience, and the students asked many sharp questions. This format is an excellent way of getting good, engaged college students thinking about crucial issues. I’d bet that many of them will delve further into the questions that were raised and scholars who were discussed.

The AHI is one of many centers that have been established on campuses (or in close proximity) across the country with the purpose of adding different voices that probably wouldn’t otherwise be heard and engendering more debate than would otherwise occur. (Jay Schalin’s recent report on them was, I’m happy to say, singled out for praise by Carl Menges, who was the driving force behind the creation of AHI back in 2006. For the story on the difficult birth of the Institute, read Professor Robert Paquette’s Pope Center piece.)

One idea I heard raised was the prospect of taking AHI colloquia “on the road.” I hope that comes to pass.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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