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Featured Professor: Donald Boudreaux

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Professor Donald Boudreaux said he loves to teach introductory economics. The George Mason University professor has been using his expertise to educate future journalists who attend the TFAS Institute on Political Journalism (IPJ).

“When economics is taught correctly it is an eye-opener for students on de-politicized society at work,” said Boudreaux, who has been teaching at TFAS since 2011.

He is impressed by the quality of students and programs, and appreciates the optimistic culture of TFAS education. He said the organization is not dogmatic, but open-minded, and this attracts young people to principles of a classic liberal world view. Boudreaux said this culture is pervasive throughout the staff, beginning with TFAS President Roger Ream (ICPES 76) and TFAS Chairman Randy Teague.

The most important element TFAS conveys to students is the remarkable properties of society based on private property rights, the rule of law as embodied in the U.S. Constitution and the vitality of a market economy that is allowed to be free.”

“The most important element TFAS conveys to students is the remarkable properties of society based on private property rights, the rule of law as embodied in the U.S. Constitution and the vitality of a market economy that is allowed to be free,” said Boudreaux.

Boudreaux became hooked on economics as a college freshman in 1977. He described himself as an indifferent student who took an economics class to satisfy credit requirements.  At the time, there were shortages of natural gas in the U.S., and Boudreaux recalls reading about people freezing in their homes. Boudreaux’s professor aptly connected these events to price ceilings, and economics became alive to him.

“I saw supply and demand curves and the teacher explained when government prevents the price of a product from moving freely in response to the forces of supply and demand, problems are created. I thought it was a remarkable phenomenon that an analysis so simple could explain so much of the world that I knew. I was hooked right away,” Boudreaux said.

The hook led Boudreaux to get his doctorate from Auburn University. He then taught at Clemson University and George Mason University, where he also served as chairman of the Department of Economics. He holds a law degree from University of Virginia, and previously served as president at the Foundation for Economic Education. He co-hosts a blog, Cafe Hayek, with Russ Roberts. The blog is named for Friedrich Hayek, an influential twentieth century economist. Roberts and Boudreaux write daily posts that are accessible to people without an economics background. Often times, Boudreaux writes letters in response to articles in major publications, as many as 400 letters per year.

Through so many years of studying and teaching economics, Boudreaux has noticed a trend that the discipline has moved away from the applicable side of economics to a more theoretical, model-based version. This has created in part, the popular notion that economics is not interesting or relevant to the average person. Boudreaux maintains when economics is taught in connection to real world events, it explains much of  what is happening in medicine, travel and other advancements. Boudreaux said GMU has preserved a style of applicable economics, which is why the partnership between TFAS and GMU is so fitting.

“I know Roger works especially hard to ensure relevant economics are taught in TFAS programs,” Boudreaux said. “TFAS conveys those principles by using superb professors and having outstanding programs.”

 

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