Acton University 2016


Acton University is a unique, four-day exploration of the intellectual foundations of a free society. Guided by a distinguished, international faculty, Acton University is an opportunity to deepen your knowledge and integrate philosophy, theology, business, development - with sound, market based, economics.

2016 Evening Plenaries

  • Tuesday Evening Plenary - Magatte Wade $1.99
    Magatte Wade is passionate about entrepreneurship and creating high-end retail brands based on diverse African traditions that change the perception of Africa. She was born in Senegal, educated in France, and launched her entrepreneurial career in San Francisco. She is fluent in, and conducts business in, Wolof, French, and English. Magatte is the founder and CEO of Tiossan, a high-end skin care products line based on indigenous Senegalese recipes and ingredients. Previously, Magatte founded Adina World Beverages, with African-inspired drinks sold throughout the United States at retailers including Whole Foods and Wegmans. Prior to her departure from Adina, she assembled an executive team featuring a co-Founder of Odwalla, CEO of SoBe, and ex-co-Chairman of PepsiCo. Magatte writes for The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and Barron’s. She is a frequent speaker at business conferences and college campuses, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, Dartmouth, MIT, Wharton, Babson, among others. She was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, as well as one of the “20 Youngest Power Women in Africa” by Forbes in 2011. In 2014, she was featured on the cover of Forbes Afrique for being the person in Francophone Africa having the greatest positive impact on the future. In 2014, she also received the award for the "leading Woman in Wellness" from the Global Spa & Wellness Summit, the premiere international organization that brings together leaders and visionaries to positively impact and shape the future of the global spa and wellness industries. She serves on the boards of the Global Spa & Wellness Summit and ASNAPP (Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products. She also serves on the Advisory Board of the Whole Planet Foundation, the private foundation of Whole Foods Market
  • Wednesday Evening Plenary: Dr. Vernon Smith $1.99
    2002 Nobel Prize Winner in Economics Dr. Vernon L. Smith was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002 for his groundbreaking work in experimental economics. He has the George L. Argyros Chair in Finance and Economics, and is a research scholar in the Economic Science Institute at Chapman University. He is the president and founder of the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics since 1997. Dr. Smith has authored or co-authored more than 290 articles and books on capital theory, finance, natural resource economics and experimental economics. He serves or has served on the board of editors of the American Economic Review, The Cato Journal, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Science, Economic Theory, Economic Design, Games and Economic Behavior, The Independent Review and the Journal of Economic Methodology. Dr. Smith is a distinguished fellow of the American Economic Association, and the 1995 Adam Smith Award recipient conferred by the Association for Private Enterprise Education. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1995, and received CalTech's distinguished alumni award in 1996. He has served as a consultant on the design of electric power systems in Australia and New Zealand and participated in numerous private and public discussions of regulatory reform in the United States. In 1997 he served as a Blue Ribbon Panel Member, National Electric Reliability Council. Dr. Smith completed his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering at the California Institute of Technology, his master's degree in economics at the University of Kansas, and his Ph.D. in economics at Harvard.
  • Thursday Evening Plenary: Dr. William B. Allen $1.99
    Emeritus Professor of Political Philosophy, Michigan State University William B. Allen, emeritus professor of Political Philosophy in the Department of Political Science and emeritus dean, James Madison College, at Michigan State University. He served previously on the United States National Council for the Humanities and as Chairman and Member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Currently he serves as associate pastor, First Baptist Church Havre de Grace, Md; Veritas Fund Senior Fellow in the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good at Villanova University. He has published extensively including Re-Thinking Uncle Tom: The Political Philosophy of H. B. Stowe (Lexington Books) and George Washington: America’s First Progressive (Peter Lang, Inc.).
  • Friday Evening Plenary: Rev. Robert A. Sirico $1.99
    President, Acton Institute Rev. Robert A. Sirico is the president and co-founder of the Acton Institute and pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Grand Rapids, Mich. His writings on religious, political, economic, and social matters are published in a variety of journals, including: the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, the London Financial Times, the Washington Times, the Detroit News, and National Review. Rev. Sirico is often called upon by members of the broadcast media for statements regarding economics, civil rights, and issues of religious concern, and has provided commentary for CNN, ABC, the BBC, NPR, and CBS' 60 Minutes, among others. In his popular book, Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy, Rev. Sirico shows how a free economy is the best way to meet society’s material needs. Rev. Sirico holds dual Italian and American citizenship.

Session 1

  • Christ and Culture Revisited (Hunter Baker - AU 2016) $1.99
    This course will examines the relationship between the Christian church and modern culture. In an attempt to diagnose our situation and find good ground for moving forward we examine thinkers such as H. Richard Niebuhr, Reinhold Niebuhr, John Courtney Murray, Elton Trueblood, James Davison Hunter, and Rod Dreher. Can we change the world? And if so, how?
  • Individual Rights and Social Justice (Dr. James Bruce - AU 2016) $1.99
    Social justice can mean many things. To see why, we can ask how one’s theory of social justice relates to individual rights. Doing so, we’ll see that there’s a social justice determined to uphold individual rights and that there’s a different kind of social justice, focused exclusively on distribution. About this latter kind of social justice, we should be wary.
  • From Paternalism to Partnership (Greg Elzinga - AU 2016) $1.99
    This course explores some of the dominant approaches in economic development of the last several decades and focuses on new models for partnership and business development in communities and countries with high unemployment and poverty.
  • Impact Investing (Dato Dr. Kim Tan - AU 2016) $1.99
    Over the last decade a new breed of venture capitalism has emerged: social impact investors who invest in sustainable and scalable enterprises among the poor. These enterprises generate social returns in terms of lives impacted and innovative goods and services that serve the poor. This lecture looks at businesses designed to tackle issues of poverty in Africa and Asia in the areas of education, sanitation, cookstoves and human trafficking, and describes the social impact investment universe from angel investors to institutional social venture funds.
  • The Economic Thought of Sergei Bulgakov (Rev. Johannes Jacobse - AU 2016) $1.99
    This is an introductory course on the economic thought of Russian philosopher Sergei Bulgakov (1871-1944), focusing on his concept of House Economy (taken from the Greek economos or house-management) as the means for managing life and society.
  • The Sanctification of Work (Dr. Maximilian Torres - AU 2016) $1.99
    St. Josemaria teaches that the most prosaic task can become a pathway to sanctity. Thus, what looks like writing code on the outside can actually be sanctifying oneself by writing code. Rather than being a matter of Pelagian self-sanctification, it is a matter of corresponding to God's grace and responding with a gift of self. "Before God...[e]verything gains the value of the Love with which it is done." This teaching has enormous ramifications for work, economics, productivity, prosperity and happiness.
  • Christian Anthropology (Dr. Samuel Gregg - AU 2016) $1.99
    This lecture draws on Scripture, patristic sources, and natural law to ground the Christian vision of virtuous liberty in the idea of “freedom for excellence”, contrasting it with the alternative of “freedom of indifference”, and outlines the concrete implications of these different understandings of human freedom.

Session 2

  • Liberation Theology: An Introduction and Critique (Aurora Griffin - AU 2016) $1.99
    This session presents the basic features of the liberation theology movement using Gustavo Gutierrez’s seminal work, A Theology of Liberation (1973), addresses problems in Gutierrez’s theology and asks whether more persuasive insights remain to be developed in the future of the movement.
  • Population Economics (Dr. Stephen Barrows - AU 2016) $1.99
    Environmental alarmists often repeat the Malthusian warning that human population growth is harmful to the planet and is unsustainable. In contrast, many economists are a bit more optimistic about human population growth. This course examines how Austrian economists have responded to Malthusianism and the implications of their insights for the modern Malthusian debate.
  • The EU: Forerunner of Democratic Global Governance? (Todd Huizinga - AU 2016) $1.99
    In Europe and increasingly in the United States, there is a moral struggle taking place between two paradigms of government: the self-government of sovereign citizens within the liberal democratic nation-state and the supranationalist vision of a global legal order to be established via a growing web of international organizations administering an ever more comprehensive body of international law and regulation. The central question in this conflict is: do free peoples have the right to rule themselves or must they share sovereignty with others in the interest of achieving greater levels globally of liberty, respect for human rights and the rule of law? This session examines the European Union’s commitment to the idea of global governance, its claim that self-government and global governance can coexist and the effects of the EU’s supranationalist vision on Europe’s relations with the United States.
  • The New Disney Animation as Cultural Entrepreneurship (Dr. Greg Forster - AU 2016) $1.99
    Despite alarming trends in our culture, Pixar and (since their merger) Walt Disney Animation Studios have become a powerful center of cultural vitality. This class examines how the New Disney Animation can serve as a model for entrepreneurial people seeking to influence culture in a way that directs it toward the transcendent things – the good, the true and the beautiful.
  • Christian Vision of Government (Michael Matheson Miller - AU 2016) $1.99
    This course examines the Christian and natural law principles that inform Christian thinking about the role of government and law in free and virtuous societies, beginning with a survey of Christianity’s decisive moral and institutional contribution to limiting state power.

Session 3

  • Demographics and Civilizational Decline (David Goldman - AU2016) $1.99
    Small civilizations are overrun; big civilizations destroy themselves. The demographics of the industrial world point towards a deep decline. The demographic winter stems from a crisis of faith. This course will explore historical precedents for civilizational decline, analyze current trends, and address the question: can the decline of the West be reversed?
  • Economics of Education (Dr. Catharine Pakaluk - AU 2016) $1.99
    This course introduces the key ideas, findings, and puzzles in the economic analysis of schools and education, including an overview of major educational policy goals as they relate to fundamental questions about human formation and schooling.
  • Judaism and the Market Economy (Dr. Steven Grosby - AU 2016) $1.99
    Judaism presents the paradox of being associated with both progressive, state-directed economic policies and capitalism. Why is this so? In fact, while the Jewish tradition conveys an obligatory, charitable concern for one’s neighbor, it also clearly embodies positive views of private property.
  • Piketty, Poverty, and Inequality (Prof. Ross Emmett - AU 2016) $1.99
    In Capital in the Twenty-first Century, Thomas Piketty makes three central claims: existing levels of inequality are unjust, the 21st century will see rising inequality because wealth derived from capital will grow faster than wealth derived from the employment of human labor (exacerbating the inequality that already exists), and the economics profession is unethical to the extent that it ignores inequality. In the session we will review Piketty’s claims and examine his arguments about what can be done about inequality today. We will then look at three different avenues of criticism that be followed in constructing a response to Piketty. The first set of criticisms regard measurement and theory issues; the second focuses on his conception of capitalism; and the third asks whether we should focus more on reducing poverty rather than reducing inequality.
  • The Church's Social Responsibility (Ballor/Joustra - AU 2016) $1.99
    The lacuna of "social justice" has been used to muddy the waters of what "the Church is," who and what may speak for it, and how its prophetic teaching and calling can best work as pearl and leaven in society. In this session, Jordan Ballor and Robert Joustra discuss their recent book, The Church's Social Responsibility: Reflections on Evangelicalism and Social Justice, clarifying and challenging the work of the Church as institute and the Church as organism, in its call for justice today.
  • Why East Asia has Risen out of Poverty (Dato Dr. Kim Tan - AU 2016) $1.99
    Some 40 years ago, the GDP of a number of African countries were higher than that of most East Asian countries. This lecture will discuss how these countries have transformed themselves into the Asian Tiger economies as well as examine their particular Asian characteristics.

Session 4

  • Christianity and Cultural Responsibility (John Stonestreet - AU 2016) $1.99
    What is the scope of Christian concern? How far shall we pursue influence and transformation? This course will reexamine H. Richard Neibuhr's categories from Christ and Culture, and their usefulness in light of an increasingly post-Christian context of radical autonomy, aggressive secularism, waning Biblical literacy and the rise of neo-gnosticism.
  • Envy and Its Discontents (Dr. Victor Claar - AU 2016) $1.99
    In a free-market system, participants are free to pursue exchanges that lead to their mutual benefit. Yet market economies do not lead to equal outcomes, even though the same rules apply to all participants. Using St. Thomas Aquinas's definition of envy as a starting point, and drawing both biblical examples and the most up-to-date research, this course will critically examine the potentially corrosive role that envy may play in our relationships in a market economy. Critiques the idea of equality of economic outcomes from a moral and anthropological perspective.
  • Introduction to Orthodox Social Thought (Dylan Pahman - AU 2016) $1.99
    This course offers an introduction to fundamental principles for Orthodox Christian social thought.
  • Islam 101 (Mustafa Akyol - AU 2016) $1.99
    This course explains the basic religious tenets of Islam, provides some background to their development, and then illustrates how they play out in the realms of politics, culture and economics.
  • Partnership Based Community Development (Rev. Dr. Svetlana Papazov - AU 2016) $1.99
    The drive to maintain political correctness makes it easier for Christians to compartmentalize their lives and to separate the sacred from the secular. This course will look at how Christians can bridge this divide at the local level, and will propose a practical methodology for establishing church and community partnerships.
  • Strong Families, Prosperous States (Prof. W. Bradford Wilcox - AU 2016) $1.99
    How the state of our unions affects the economic prosperity of our states.

Session 5

  • Christian Roots of the Free Economy (Dr. Alejandro Chafuen - AU 2016) $1.99
    In more recent decades, it has been increasingly acknowledged that 16th and 17th century Catholic theologians associated with the University of Salamanca made decisive contributions to the emergence of key intellectual foundations of free market economics. This lecture identifies the primary “late-Scholastic” thinkers, summarizes their contributions to economic thought, and illustrates where their thought is still relevant today.
  • Entrepreneurial Vocation (Rev. Roger Landry - AU 2016) $1.99
    This course examines the vocation to work and create, to invest the talent of one’s life, gifts, know-how, and resources, within the larger context of the theme of calling and mission of the love of God and neighbor.
  • Free-Market Environmentalism (Dr. P.J. Hill - AU 2016) $1.99
    This lecture focuses on property rights and markets as a way of improving environmental quality. The property rights lens of analysis leads to innovative solutions for conservation of natural resources and protection of the environment.
  • Getting Social Justice Right (Dr. Ryan Anderson - AU 2016) $1.99
    Social justice is one of the most used expressions by Christians when it comes to economic questions. But what does it really mean? Is every use of the expression justified? This lecture examines these questions as it explains accurate and inaccurate uses of the term.
  • Introduction to the Chicago School (Prof. Ross Emmett - AU 2016) $1.99
    From Frank Knight and Jacob Viner in the 1930s to James Heckman and Lars Hansen today, economists at the University of Chicago have been leaders in the economics discipline. At the core of the Chicago School’s success is its clear understanding of the role of prices in markets. What has separated the School from other approaches is its appreciation for market outcomes, and the willingness of its members to venture outside the boundaries of traditional “economic” problems to use price theory to explain everything from law, marriage, crime, and monopolies to democratic processes and religion. I will use the session to lay out the basics of the Chicago approach, its key figures, and the three major transitions in Chicago School thinking, and then contrast it with mainstream and Austrian economics.
  • Is Graduate School the Next Step? (Dr. Jordan Ballor - AU 2016) $1.99
    This course is open to students who are either currently enrolled in or are seriously considering enrollment in a graduate or post-graduate program that explores themes related to theology, human dignity, and the principles of a free and virtuous society. This course will introduce options for graduate school and survey common challenges experienced before, during, and after grad school.
  • Judaism and Natural Law (Dr. Daniel Mark - AU 2016) $1.99
    Does Judaism have a natural law tradition? If not, is natural law compatible or reconcilable with Judaism? What does the relationship between Judaism and natural law mean for the idea of Jewish chosenness and mission? And what are the stakes for Jewish involvement in contemporary politics and society if Judaism and natural law do or do not go together?
  • Poverty in the Developing World (Michael Matheson Miller - AU 2016) $1.99
    Examines some of the causes of poverty in the developing world, critically analyzes current poverty alleviation strategies including aid and government planning, and focuses on private property, rule of law, markets, and culture for economic development.
  • Property Rights in the Old Testament I (Dr. John Bergsma - AU 2016) $1.99
    In contemporary culture, business, and even private ownership in general, is often portrayed as intrinsically evil. This lecture explores the place and responsibilities of ownership as presented in the opening books of the Bible.
  • The Family and the Market (Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse - AU 2016) $1.99
    This session answers these questions: In what ways does the market rely on the family? How is the modern idea of sexual freedom different from older ideas of freedom? How can market pressures on the family be resolved or alleviated?

Session 6

  • Accountable Entrepreneurship: A Wesleyan Understanding of the Connected Individual (Dr. James Thobaben - AU 2016) $1.99
    John Wesley encouraged diligence through his own life example and in his teaching, most notably demonstrated through the Wesleyan connectional system. This course will examine Wesley’s approach, briefly examine how the Methodist movement abandoned accountability at great cost, and provide some contemporary examples that demonstrate how his approach can be usefully reapplied.
  • Church, City, and Urban Renewal (Pastor Christopher Brooks - AU 2016) $1.99
    Participants will be introduced to the theological intersection between the biblical call for advocating justice for the poor and weak, and the market economy in an urban context. Consideration will be given to the pertinent scriptural texts, Christian thought and historical theology concerning wealth creation, management and distribution.
  • Creation and the Image of God (Dr. Scott Hahn - AU 2016) $1.99
    An important aspect of bearing God's image is human labor. Work itself was one of God’s original blessings in creation, because only through work can we truly become like God. The climax of creation is the Sabbath, which signifies how work itself must be ordered to worship; the fruit of our labor is to be consecrated by the liturgy. This has profound implications for economics and what it means to to fulfill our covenant with God, especially in our family relations.
  • Islam, Markets, and the Free Society (Mustafa Akyol - AU 2016) $1.99
    Is Islam compatible with free markets or does it promote collectivism? Here is a brief overview of Islamic sources on the issue of economic freedom and an examination of the newly developing “Islamic capitalism.”
  • John Locke's Philosophy of Liberalism (Kishore Jayabalan - AU 2016) $1.99
    Locke is the most famous proponent of a system of limited government that rules by the consent of the governed on the basis of human freedom. This system builds on while also reinterpreting traditional Christian teaching on God, man and property. This lecture will examine the similarities and differences between Locke and his predecessors, and what these mean for Christians living in the modern world.
  • Mission Drift (Chris Horst - AU 2016) $1.99
    Without careful attention, faith-based organizations will inevitably drift from their founding purpose. It’s that simple. Slowly, silently, and with little fanfare, organizations routinely drift from their mission. This course looks at how to keep the organizations, schools, churches, and ministries you love to stay on track.
  • Second Thoughts: Newman on Political and Economic Liberty (Dr. David Deavel - AU 2016) $1.99
    While opposing “liberalism” in religion—the notion that all theological beliefs are equal—John Henry Newman was, in politics and economics, “in the liberal tradition.” This course will cover Newman's orthodox Christian approach to the advantages and challenges for modern believers in liberal regimes and market driven economies.
  • The Entrepreneur: The Servant of the User (Robert Luddy - AU 2016) $1.99
    Successful entrepreneurs must be "alert" to users’ needs, requirements and how to solve perplexing problems creatively. This process requires new levels of thinking, flexibility, knowledge, and the virtues of perseverance and prudence. Conventional thinking and industry practices are largely abandoned in this process. This course will examine the virtues and the vocation of the entrepreneur.
  • When Marriage Disappears (Prof. W. Bradford Wilcox - AU 2016) $1.99
    How and why marriage is disappearing in poor and working-class communities in America.
  • Jewish Non-Utopian Readings of the Bible and Human Nature (Rabbi Mitchell Rocklin - AU 2016) $1.99
    There have been many utopian economic and social visions in the Judeo-Christian tradition. There have also been many who argued that the principle of imitatio Dei as an important religious obligation. Yet a straightforward reading of the Hebrew Bible demonstrates that not only was there no utopia to begin with, but God was actually afraid that man would be like Him. In a similar manner, there are later Jewish views that understand the limits of human nature and nature itself as established. This dramatically affects the way in which understand human economic needs and social conditions.

Session 7

  • Distributism: Theory and Critique (Dr. Todd Flanders - AU 2016) $1.99
    Increasingly popular among Christians of all confessions, the economic theory of distributism, often associated with Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton, is often presented as a Christian ‘third way’ between capitalism and socialism. This lecture outlines distributist theory and articulates a robust critique of its premises and workings.
  • Economics of Poverty (Dr. Catherine Pakaluk - AU 2016) $1.99
    Introduces key metrics, descriptive statistics, and trends related to poverty and class in 20th and 21st century America, with a special focus on American social policy and cultural criticism.
  • Hope for the Inner City (Ismael Hernandez - AU 2016) $1.99
    Examines strategies to improve the socio-economic conditions of inner cities in North America. Fragile urban infrastructures are often vulnerable to patterns that impede human flourishing. This lecture presents an alternate vision for personal and communal uplift based on local entrepreneurial initiative.
  • How to Understand Secularism (Rev. Johannes Jacobse - AU 2016) $1.99
    This course looks at secularism as a materialist religion employing the thought of Alexander Solzhenitsyn (and others) and how it represents a fundamental shift in thinking about the cosmos and anthropology. The lecturer will draw from his considerable experience on how the shift affects the human person (including believers), and how to penetrate the almost impenetrable shield against anything non-material that surrounds it.
  • James Davison Hunter's 'To Change the World' (Dr. Greg Forster - AU 2016) $1.99
    To Change the World by James Davison Hunter has had an enormous effect on discussions of cultural engagement in the evangelical world. This class surveys the book's most important claims, explains why the questions they raise are so important in our current cultural moment, and offers a critical evaluation of the book's strengths and weaknesses.
  • Marriage and Religious Liberty (Dr. Ryan Anderson - AU 2016) $1.99
    This time last year the Supreme Court redefined marriage. What does the future hold, especially for religious freedom? This lecture explores the truth about marriage, what the consequences of redefinition will be, and how best to protect our freedoms to live in accord with the truth.
  • Microfinance and Development (Chris Horst - AU 2016) $1.99
    Since Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for his groundbreaking work helping the financially poor, microfinance has become a global phenomenon. This course examines the unique power of Christ-centered microfinance—how business training, discipleship, loans, and savings—is helping some of the poorest communities to break the cycles of physical and spiritual poverty.
  • Moral Imagination (Michael Matheson Miller - AU 2016) $1.99
    Edmund Burke wrote of the importance of the "moral imagination" for a healthy political and social order. Using thinkers including Burke, Russell Kirk, CS Lewis, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Ian McGilchrist and others, this course will examine the idea of "moral imagination" and its relationship to politics, education, and human flourishing, and will suggest several steps for educating and the building up the moral imagination.
  • The Centrality of the Family in Ancient Israel (Dr. Scott Hahn - AU 2016) $1.99
    We will explore some of significant differences between contracts and covenants in ancient Israel, and how Israel's covenant with God provided the sacred foundations of marriage and family life. Careful study of the covenant Law of Moses shows us how many legal obligations were intended to protect and strengthen family relations within ancient Israel. This has important social implications for believers today.
  • Theories of Inequality and Fairness: Affirmative Action (Dr. Anthony Bradley - AU 2016) $1.99
    The session explores the presuppositional frameworks that create the political divide between the right and the left in Western politics using the example of the affirmative action debate. Competing notions of fairness as “fair play” versus “fair shares” will be explored in light of the basic norms of moral foundation theory.

Session 8

  • American Constitutionalism: The Unchecked Expansion of Federal Executive Power (Joseph Scoville - AU 2016) $1.99
    The Founders, fearful of the abuse of executive power, incorporated a careful separation of powers into the Constitution. We will examine the substantial undermining of these checks and balances in the intervening years, focusing on the principal legal decisions and historical events that have led to the Imperial Presidency.
  • Art and Beauty: The Neglected Battle (Dr. Peter Kreeft - AU 2016) $1.99
  • John Wesley: Social Entrepreneur (Dr. Charles Self - AU 2016) $1.99
    This course examines the context, content and lasting consequences of John Wesley's leadership in establishing the evangelical movement, expressing ecumenical openness to other Christian traditions and his integration of spiritual awakening with economic and social reform. He is model of biblical thoughtfulness, principled inclusiveness, and contextual praxis.
  • Lose the Story, Lose the Culture (Michael Novak - AU 2016) $1.99
    Many think of morals in terms of logical arguments. But there is an overarching intellectual dimension that cuts deeper. Action connects a past with a future; it forms a narrative. This is true both of personal stories and of the stories of cultures, nations, churches, families, and other social groups. Thence the proverb: "Lose its story, lose a culture." The story of Islam is radically different from that of Christianity. The narrative line of the New World is quite different from that of the Old World. In a certain sense, America discovered the future of Europe. “Moral ecology” describes the environment of guiding narratives, applause, contempt, peer pressure, enthusiasms, and noncomprehensions in which individual moral agents make their decisions.
  • Value Investing (David Bahnsen - AU 2016) $1.99
    With widespread public ownership of companies through the stock market and mutual and pension funds there is increasing interest in the moral implications of investing. This course will examine the different understandings of socially responsible investing and how investors can invest in a manner that is both profitable and morally responsible.
  • We're All Dead: How J.M. Keynes - and His Critics - Went Wrong (Dr. Victor Claar - AU 2016) $1.99
    John Maynard Keynes claimed that the ultimate goal of human economic activity is consumption, and argued for policies aimed to maximize employment and GDP. Keynes’s critics were quick to argue that his proposed policies would prove either ineffective or poorly timed, but those critics ceded the terms of the debate – maximizing employment and GDP – to Keynes. They were wrong.
  • What Is Natural Law? (Dr. J. Budziszewski - AU 2016) $1.99
    What does it mean to say that there is a natural moral law and what difference does it make? Is it really natural? Is it really law? What does it tell us, and how has our world lost sight of it? This course discusses the foundations of the natural law tradition, its modern demise, and its contemporary renaissance.
  • A Conservative Philosophy of Progress: Using Judaism to Rethink the Bible (Rabbi Mitchell Rocklin - AU 2016) $1.99
    How can the Jewish tradition contribute to our understanding of the idea of progress? How does progress relate to the material conditions of man, and how does it relate to the Jewish idea of redemption? What is G-d’s role in history? What is the role of the human individual in history? Is history moving somewhere, and do Jews understand technology and other innovations as part of that movement?

Session 9

  • 21st Century Catholic Social Thought (Rev. Raymond de Souza - AU15) $1.99
    Pope Benedict XVI indicated that the Church needed to recover charitable service as a key part of her social teaching. Pope Francis has taken that up, as well as the central place of the poor and the need to promote the “human ecology” articulated by St. John Paul II. Along with challenges to religious liberty and the rise of religious violence, those themes will shape Catholic social teaching in the 21st century.
  • Africa: New Pathways for Development (Andreas Widmer - AU 2016) $1.99
    Looks at a brief African history of aid, identifies the domestic and international policies that have facilitated problems, and outlines how people of faith inside and outside Africa can best contribute to concrete and sustainable solutions.
  • Climate Change: Science and Economics (Dr. Jay Richards - AU 2016) $1.99
    Climate change is one of the most controversial environmental and economic topics, and has become even more prominent among Christians since the publication of Pope Francis's encyclical Laudato Si' in 2015. This course breaks down the controversy, explains the scientific and economic details, and provides a clear and intuitive way for non-specialists to understand the many distinct issues that fall under the single phrase "climate change."
  • Edmund Burke's Principled Partisanship (Kishore Jayabalan - AU 2016) $1.99
    Prior to Edmund Burke, partisanship was widely decried as a serious malady to the body politic and the common good. The statesman and philosopher most associated with modern conservativism defended parties on the grounds of principle. This lecture will examine why and ask whether Burke succeeded, especially in light of the continuing critiques of partisanship from religious and moral leaders.
  • How to Talk About Natural Law (Dr. J. Budziszewski - AU 2016) $1.99
    According to the classical natural law tradition, the foundational moral principles are not only right for everyone, but at some level known to everyone. One would think that would make them easy to talk about. Surprisingly, it doesn’t. How can we speak with skeptical neighbors, to whom even the law “written on the heart” seems too obscure?
  • John Courtney Murray on Catholicism and the American Democratic Experiment (Dr. Kenneth Grasso - AU 2016) $1.99
    John Courtney Murray’s account of the relationship of Catholicism and the American political tradition is more nuanced than is commonly recognized. While Murray saw the founding as in broad continuity with the Western Christian political tradition Western tradition, he also believed that the founding’s departure in certain respects from this tradition laid the groundwork for many of the problems we see today.
  • Philanthropy and Civil Society: An Ethic of Beneficence for the Modern Age (Dr. Lenore Ealy - AU 2016) $1.99
    In the modern age, philanthropy has often seen itself in tension with commerce. This discussion will look back at the changing roles of beneficent institutions in western civilization and explore the tensions that have emerged between the supposed moral good of philanthropy and the supposed moral bad of commerce. Drawing upon Biblical concepts of charity and Adam Smith's discussion of justice and beneficence in his Theory of Moral Sentiments, we will lay the groundwork for an understanding of philanthropy that is compatible with the principles of a free and humane society.
  • Property Rights in the Old Testament II (Dr. John Bergsma - AU 2016) $1.99
    This course will focus on the important role that private property plays in the Old Testament (excluding the Pentateuch which is covered in a previous section) especially in relationship to family, kinship, and social cohesion. It will examine the normative texts on property and wealth creation from the historical books through the end of the OT and the critique by the prophets of economic injustice and oppression. This course will examine the interrelationship of these two dimensions and raise questions of contemporary relevance.
  • The Rise and Fall of the European Social Market (Dr. Samuel Gregg - AU 2016) $1.99
    After World War II, many West European governments implemented economic policies that sought to enhance the economic security of the population and promote economic equity. This lecture examines the origins of these policies, discusses their strengths and weaknesses, and considers the reasons for the apparent faltering of the European Social Model.

Session 10

  • Are the Poor 'Blessed' If They Become Prosperous? (Dr. Peter Kreeft - AU 2016) $1.99
    Christianity is full of paradoxes, in practice as well as in doctrine. For instance, death is "the last enemy" yet it is our only hope, our door into Heaven. We are to fight for life and against our "culture of death," yet be detached from life and accept death when it comes, as God's will. Similarly, in economic morality, we are to be detached from riches, and the poor are "blessed," yet we are commanded to relieve their poverty. Why does this not mean that we are commanded to make them less blessed?
  • Does the Free Economy Stifle a Culture of Beauty? (David Clayton - AU 2016) $1.99
    Some critics of contemporary culture suggest that we cannot have a culture of beauty if we also have thriving capitalism, mass production and industrialization. Using many examples of art and architecture past and present, Clayton argues that it is man's understanding of the nature of the human person, of the cosmos and ultimately of God that are the most profound influences on the forms of the culture, for good or ill. Once we get these right, he suggests, far from stifling the growth of a culture of beauty, the free economy can be the most powerful instrument for its propogation.
  • Latin America: New Pathways of Development (Anielka Olsen - AU 2016) $1.99
    This course will explore the current situation in Latin America and discuss the obstacles to development and a number of conditions required for prosperity in the region.
  • Personhood and Economics: Insights from Dostoyevsky (Very Rev. Dr. Gregory Hogg - AU 2016) $1.99
    We are witnessing the reductio ad absurdum of the liberal individualist view of the person, and many are looking to collectivist answers. Dostoevsky allows us to see that there is another way, between those two extremes. In this lecture we will discuss Dostoevsky’s view of the human person, and some implications of that view for ethical and economic topics.
  • Private Charity: A Practitioner's View (Rololpho Carrasco - AU 2016) $1.99
    This lecture will expand on the unique ability of private charity to address human need using local knowledge and resources unavailable and unsuited to public agencies, with specific attention to urban ministries.
  • Progressivism: Theory and Critique (Dr. Kevin Schmiesing - AU 2016) $1.99
    Progressivism is a diverse, international movement that arose in response to industrialization in Europe and North America. Concentrating especially on the United States, this lecture summarizes the principal ideas promoted by progressive intellectuals and examines their relationship to traditional Christian understandings of politics and society.
  • Statesman: The Thought of Leo XIII (Rev. Raymond de Souza - AU 2016) $1.99
    Leo XIII is considered the father of modern Catholic social teaching. Yet Leo’s influence was much greater. After the loss of the papal states, Leo re-oriented the papacy toward an evangelical engagement with the world. His work on the social order emphasized the Christian disciple’s role in “ruling” the temporal spheres entrusted to him. In a time when secular liberal states are infected with totalitarian impulses, Leo’s vision is very timely.
  • T.S. Eliot and the Four Quartets (Dr. Bradley Birzer - AU 2016) $1.99
    This talk explores the music, the theology, the philosophy, and the intent of The Four Quartets. If The Waste Land is Eliot’s Hell, and if The Hollow Men is Eliot’s Purgatory, The Four Quartets is Eliot’s Paradise. Well, mostly. It does, however, end with the Incarnation as the irruption of eternity into time, thus sanctifying all time, past, present, and future. Additionally, I will explore the meaning of Eliot’s poetry to his personal life and struggles.
  • The Religious Problem with Religious Freedom (Dr. Robert Joustra - AU 2016) $1.99
    This session argues that underlying rival public perspectives about religion and religious freedom in North America are rival understandings of the meaning and practice of the religious and the secular. It shows how debates over the American Office of Religious Freedom and its International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA, 1998) and very recent debates over the Canadian Office of Religious Freedom (2013) have pitted at least six basic, but very different meanings of the religious and the secular against each other in often undisclosed and usually unproductive ways. Properly naming this ‘religious problem’ is a critical first step to acknowledging and conciliating their practically polar political prescriptions.
  • The Social Vision of Abraham Kuyper (Dr. Vincent Bacote - AU 2016) $1.99
    Abraham Kuyper was a true Christian Renaissance man whose life provides a great example of public Christianity that touches every area of life, sometimes in unexpected ways. What can we learn from his legacy and how can we develop it in ways that encourage flourishing in culture, society and the economic realm?
  • Thomas Jefferson v. Alexander Hamilton (Dr. John Pinhiero - AU 2016) $1.99
    Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton represent the best known and broadest schools of American thought on how best to balance liberty with the need for order. This lecture will explore the intellectual origins of their principles and attempt to determine what we might glean from each to help build a free and virtuous society.

Session 11

  • Adam Smith, Markets, and Morality (Prof. Ryan Patrick Hanley - AU 2016) $1.99
    Adam Smith’s work continues to shape the modern world today, but often in unexpected ways. This lecture considers how Smith conceptualized the relationship between the good life and the economy, and how this continues to be relevant in shaping discourse about the benefits and limits of markets today.
  • Community and Economic Development (Justin Beene - AU 2016) $1.99
    Christians are called to both share God’s heart for the poor and to respond to poverty with effective compassion that brings holistic transformation. This seminar will highlight principles of effective compassion being implemented by neighborhood-based urban ministries that are genuinely making a difference.
  • Crony Capitalism (Dr. Jay Richards - AU2016) $1.99
    Popular comparisons of political economy often treat the primary options as either free-market capitalism or socialism, but in the 21st century, both of these options are being displaced by a third way called cronyism. Unlike a free market, cronyism involves the widespread collusion between government regulators and large private corporations. Using the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath as a current example, this course will explain the essential elements of cronyism and how to distinguish it from both free enterprise and socialism.
  • Orthodoxy and Natural Law (Very Rev. Michael Butler - AU 2016) $1.99
    Eastern Orthodoxy has been ambivalent about natural law. This lecture considers how natural law thinking might work in distinctly Orthodox ways of thinking about the relationship between faith and reason and considers some implications that might be useful today.
  • Overcriminalization and the Expansion of State Power (Dr. Anthony Bradley - AU 2016) $1.99
    This session explores the expansion of government power to criminalize immaturity, poor judgment, non-compliance with government regulations, and attempts to solve moral and social problems while proposing civil society solutions to criminal activity. While dangerous criminals and lawbreakers should be punished appropriately we must make sure that punishments fit crimes and that there is a check on prosecutorial overreach.
  • St. Augustine and the City of Man (Rev. John Zuhlsdorf - AU 2016) $1.99
    Perhaps the most influential Church father of all time, St. Augustine is also the first author to deal with the problem of politics and civil society in light of Christianity. This lecture will examine his critique of pagan Rome and natural theology and what this means for the relationship between the City of God and the City of Man today.
  • Statism in Poor Countries: A Field Guide (Dr. Stephen Smith - AU 2016) $1.99
    State-centered, state-directed economic policies are the default choice in most poor countries. To a far larger extent than most outside observers imagine—or can easily discern—heavy state intervention is the norm, from state ownership of banks to back-breaking taxation of agriculture. This course surveys typical statist institutions, and considers questions such as: What are statism’s long-term consequences? What does it imply for promoting entrepreneurship and a healthy business culture? How does it complicate market-oriented reforms and private Christian development assistance?
  • The Austrian Tradition on Social and Economic Order (Jeffrey Tucker - AU16) $1.99
    It is conventional to think of social and economic order as something imposed from the top down, a pure extension of political will and a reflection of the political system. But the Austrian tradition offers a completely different explanation for how it is that we achieve social and economic coordination across a large span of time and place. Order emerges from within society itself through the choices of individuals and is coordinated by institutions such as prices, traditions, and organically developed norms. This class explores the views of Carl Menger, F.A. Hayek, and Ludwig von Mises on the basis of social and economic institutions.