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Featured Professor: Nikolai Wenzel

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Nikolai Wenzel described his experience teaching Political Economy to TFAS students in Hong Kong in one word: “A-ma-zing!”

Wenzel spent three weeks teaching students from all over the world in the Asia Institute on Political Economy (AIPE). During AIPE, students lived on the Hong Kong University campus and took upper level politics and economics classes from renowned faculty, including Wenzel.

“I think the most valuable thing TFAS teaches is an appreciation for free-market institutions, and the institutions of a free society,” Wenzel wrote. “There is much misunderstanding about both, and there are many clichés about the American system (which, sadly is not completely free). So it’s helpful for students to understand liberty and markets—as well as the dangers of interventionism, including crony capitalism.”

During the academic year, Wenzel is the visiting assistant professor of economics in the Lutgert College of Business of Florida Gulf Coast University. He holds an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University, and a doctoral degree in economics from George Mason University. During his career, Dr. Wenzel also served as a foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State. This background, plus a dynamic teaching style, earned him fabulous TFAS student reviews.

“I think the most valuable thing TFAS teaches is an appreciation for free-market institutions, and the institutions of a free society.”

Wenzel described his AIPE students as exceptional, noting that they were fluent in English, eager to learn and polite. Teaching students from many different cultures and backgrounds was stimulating for Wenzel as a professor.

“I got some of the hardest questions I’ve faced in my decade of teaching. The two hardest questions, were, ‘What are the differences between Adam Smith and F.A. Hayek’, and ‘I learned in school in Vietnam that communism fixed all of the problems of capitalism. What do you think?’”

Wenzel said that economics is daunting to students and adults alike because most people don’t know what it really is. “In fact, economics is about everyday life, and everybody is an expert at economics,” Wenzel wrote.

Teachers of economics put some perspective on existing insights that people can apply to a larger level of analysis. Economists in the tradition of Paul Heyne, a famous economics lecturer, tell stories and make economics accessible. Similarly, Wenzel uses games and market simulations in his classes.

Wenzel noted that Hong Kong is a success story of economic liberty, although due to current political events freedom may be threatened.

“The important educational work of TFAS in Hong Kong is thus doubly important and relevant,” Wenzel wrote.

Professor Wenzel will be a featured speaker at the 2014 TFAS Leadership Conference November 14-15 in Naples, Florida. Click here to read more about the conference.

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