The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) believes learning should not stop at high school or college. TFAS encourages continuous learning and growth, especially in important topics like leadership, freedom, liberty and economics. Through the TFAS Journey, program participants continue their education with TFAS from high school to college to their early career and beyond.
One way TFAS accomplishes this is through Continuing Education programs like the Curriculum of Liberty Seminars, which are invitation-only alumni conferences focused on a variety of topics related to liberty. The program is held in partnership with Liberty Fund, Inc., a private educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
Participants study required readings prior to the conference. The seminars then employ Socratic style discussions to give TFAS alumni the opportunity to exercise their skills in civil dialogue. Though professors facilitate each session, the participants guide the direction of the discussion.
Elise Amez-Droz, PPF ’19, participated in the seminar on philanthropy and liberty. She said she loved the whole experience and gained new insight on the relationship between philanthropy and trust. She made connections between the seminar topic and her day-to-day work as a healthcare program manager at the Mercatus Center. Amez-Droz specifically appreciated the curriculum’s format, the opportunity to dig deeper, and the topic’s practical applications.
Each person has interesting observations while reading a text, but when we sit down and discuss them in a conversational format, I think we all get a lot more out of it, and we can connect the ideas of the text with practical situations we might be facing today in our work.” – Elise Amez-Droz, PPF ’19
“The Socratic seminar format is ideal to get more out of a reading than we would otherwise,” she said. “Each person has interesting observations while reading a text, but when we sit down and discuss them in a conversational format, I think we all get a lot more out of it, and we can connect the ideas of the text with practical situations we might be facing today in our work.”
TFAS staff nominate TFAS alumni to participate in the Curriculum of Liberty Seminars. Alumni are chosen to participate based on the academic excellence they exhibited during their TFAS program, relevant professional and educational experience, and desire for continuing education.
TFAS hosted two Curriculum of Liberty Seminars this spring. The first was called “Understanding Liberty and Choice: Free Trade and Globalization.” This seminar analyzed the concept of “gains from trade” with respect to the classical arguments for free trade, protectionism and globalization. The weekend program contained six sessions on the interrelated themes of trade, globalization and poverty.
Dr. Anne Bradley, the vice president of academic affairs at TFAS, led the discussion alongside Dr. Charlie Thomas from Mercer University who serves as the director of the Philosophy, Politics and Economics program and as the co-director of the Center for America’s Founding Principles. The pair guided participants through thoughtful conversations on the assigned texts, which included writings authored by Frédéric Bastiat, Adam Smith, Russ Roberts and Don Boudreaux.
Michelle Le, the vice president of international and alumni programs at TFAS, remarked that the group of participants was “outstanding.” Representing multiple countries and continents, the diverse range of perspectives enhanced the seminar overall and provided new insight.
Dr. Richard Gunderman facilitated the second seminar on “Philanthropy and Liberty.” The weekend was devoted to discussing the role of philanthropy in a free society. Participants read works by classic authors like Alexis de Tocqueville, Bernard Mandeville, Friedrich Hayek and more. The sessions covered a variety of topics, including human nature and the charitable impulse; communities and the extended order; charity before the rise of the state; and the historical origins, purpose and future of philanthropy.
Philanthropy and Liberty seminar participant Calvin Blaylock, PPF ’20, a development strategy senior associate at The Heritage Foundation, said the seminar generated great discussion on how charitable giving is an essential piece of the American national character.
“In our seminar, we discussed the challenges of motivating philanthropists, improving social cohesion, measuring philanthropic impact and more,” he said. “Thanks to TFAS, I’m coming away from our seminar with tons of newfound knowledge and connections.”
Find more information about each TFAS Curriculum of Liberty Seminar below.
Understanding Liberty and Choice: Free Trade and Globalization
March 4-6, 2022
Purpose: To “explore the classical arguments for free trade and for protectionism, followed by a balanced look at the anti-globalization discussions abundant today.”
Dr. Anne Bradley
Dr. Charlie Thomas
Logan Hybl ’18
Timothy Jambor, Law ’21
Timonthy Kilcullen, Law ’21
Alec Mena ’19
Kaamala Neupane ’17
Tiffanie Oduber ’20
Engy Said ’08
John Vatian, Law ’21
David Wilde, Law ’21
“The Wealth of Nations” – Adam Smith
“Economic Sophisms and ‘What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen’” – Frédéric Bastiat
“The Federalist Papers” – Alexander Hamilton
“The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism” – Russell Roberts
Philanthropy and Liberty
March 18-20, 2022
Purpose: “Participants will consider what obligations individuals have to one another in a free society, what considerations should be brought to bear in deciding whom and how to help, and what incentives should be established by those wishing to help. The conference will also explore the uniquely American tradition of philanthropy, its origins, and its future.”
Dr. Richard Gunderman
Elise Amez-Droz, PPF ’19
Colleen Harmon, PPF ’20
Joshua Arnold, PPF ’21
Kamron Kompani, PPF ’19
Calvin Blaylock, PPF ’20
Jacob Lane, PPF ’20
Trevor Carlsen, PPF ’19
Rebecca Richards, PPF ’21
Niki DaSilva ’14
Paul Zepeda, PPF ’21
Gilbert Guerra, PPF ’21
“Democracy in America” – Alexis de Tocqueville
“The Fable of the Bees: Or, Private Vices, Publick Benefits” – Bernard Mandeville
“The Theory of Moral Sentiments” – Adam Smith
“The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism” – F.A. Hayek
TFAS alumni interested in attending a future Curriculum of Liberty Seminar or requesting more information may contact the TFAS Alumni Engagement team at alumni@TFAS.org.