Will Ruger has been affiliated with TFAS for nearly a decade, first through Liberty Fund and later with the TFAS Freedom Scholars program, and for the last three years as a professor in the Asia Institute on Political Economy (AIPE) in Hong Kong.
Ruger teaches political science at Texas State University and serves as an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He is also a veteran of the Afghanistan War. This rare juxtaposition in academia seems a natural fit for Ruger. The father of two young boys, Ruger says, “I want my young boys to grow up and live as free and decent men. Organizations like TFAS give me hope that we can preserve a society in which this is possible.”
Helping seed the next generation of leaders with classical liberal ideas that were so important to the rise of the West, and instilling the knowledge of, and respect for, American institutions could pay huge dividends for the future of freedom in the world.”
Ruger’s course material in the Hong Kong program focuses on this proposition. “One of the most significant lessons TFAS teaches is that freedom is necessary for mankind’s flourishing in the fullest sense,” he said. “Of course, friends of liberty appreciate the intrinsic value of freedom and the material progress and prosperity that flows from what Adam Smith called ‘the system of natural liberty.’ But a key reason – maybe the most important reason – we desire freedom, as Albert Jay Nock noted, is so ‘that men may become as good and decent, as elevated and noble, as they might be and really wish to be.’”
Ruger stresses the importance of focusing on Asia, and imparting these values to the most populous area of the world, where economic freedom flourishes, at least until now, in many countries that lack political freedom. “Asia is going to be immensely important in the 21st century and beyond because it is home to such a large percentage of the globe’s population,” said Ruger. “Helping seed the next generation of leaders with classical liberal ideas that were so important to the rise of the West, and instilling the knowledge of, and respect for, American institutions could pay huge dividends for the future of freedom in the world.”
Asked how Asian students compare to those in his Texas classroom, Ruger said he’s been fortunate to have many great students but has been especially impressed with the work ethic and curiosity of those students he’s taught through the TFAS program in Hong Kong. “Given that many of our Asian students are less familiar with the subjects we teach than my students here in the U.S., they are really ‘drinking through the fire hose’ while in Hong Kong” he said. “But most of them are so eager and enthusiastic that it makes my job so much easier and more enjoyable, despite any language barriers or differing levels of preparedness. And I can’t fail to mention that we are teaching some very smart young adults,” he added.
Asked what he would say to donors about why they should support TFAS’s international programs, Ruger stated, “Megatons of bang for the buck! We have the chance to help develop a vanguard of liberty in so many parts of the world. And in my experience, the returns are so potentially high compared to the costs.”