Classical liberal and libertarian scholars connect with students and recent graduates

NEW ORLEANS, La. – From Friday through Sunday, Institute for Humane Studies representatives led one of their “Weekend Exploring Liberty” seminars at Loyola University. Approximately 50 students and recent graduates participated in lectures and discussions with leading academics from economics, history, and philosophy.
“Our objective is to bring the best communicators of the ideas of liberty and put them together with bright, inquisitive students to explore classical liberalism,” said Bethany Erber, the IHS conference coordinator. “We had a wonderful weekend of discussion and debate, and I hope the conversation will continue, even though the seminar is over.”

IHS, based in Arlington, Virginia, is a non-profit, educational organization whose mission is to advance a freer society. Its activities include academic and professional conferences, social networking facilitation, career mentoring, job postings, and fellowships for aspiring academics. This year the organization celebrates its 50th anniversary, and it is launching a new online lecture source,

“Clear thinking about liberty should be encouraged, and I’m hoping to do that by participating in the conference,” said Eric Mack, a Tulane University philosophy professor who lectured. “It’s always a little difficult for a philosopher to come in and talk to people who have very little philosophical background… But lots of the students were bright and thoughtful and not rigidly ideological.”

Walter Block and Daniel D’Amico, economics professors from Loyola University – a center for Austrian and free market economics – and Robert McDonald of the United States Military Academy completed the list of lecturers. A personal story from McDonald, of his three year old son’s experience at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, perhaps best conveyed the value each placed on liberty.

His son (pictured left) had noticed, “It’s cracked Daddy; it’s cracked. I’ll fix it. I’ll fix it with my tools.”

“I’d like to think that, in a way, this seminar and some of the analytical tools that you’ve gained will help you to fix liberty in your own life,” said McDonald. “There are a lot of different causes to which you can devote your life… But when you think about causes that matter… When you think about fights that are worth fighting. Increasing liberty… that’s a pretty big one.” (Click below to hear the excerpt from McDonald’s lecture, “The Market Revolution” – three minutes.)


Charlotte McCray, a freshman at Loyola who studies economics, philosophy, and ballet, attended and said the event “definitely exceeded [her] expectations” and was highly informative.

“It helped make my perspective much more cohesive by connecting and illuminating some of the topics I’m most interested in – philosophy, economics, policy and history – through engaging presentations.”

Click below for an example of one of the lectures that McDonald presented at Loyola (in an updated form), “The American Founding in Practice.” This is one of the many in the archives of

Fergus Hodgson is the capitol bureau reporter with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy and editor of The Pelican Post. He can be contacted at, and one can follow him on twitter.