June 27-August 26, 2011
The IFREE-sponsored Summer Scholars Program held at Chapman University was a six-week boot camp for the brain. Every morning eight students, five from Professors Bart Wilson’s and Jan Osborn’s Humanomics class at Chapman the previous fall; three former participants in an IFREE-sponsored high school experimental economics workshop (one now attending Johns Hopkins, one at Emory, and one a rising junior in high school) would meet in the ESI Conference Room to begin the day with a book talk.
The group explored ideas in Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Hayek’s The Fatal Conceit, Vernon Smith’s Rationality in Economics as well as North, Wallis, and Weingast’s Violence and Social Orders, Steven Pinker’s The Stuff of Thought, and Aravind Adiga’s novel The White Tiger.
As if that did not stretch the brain enough, discussions were followed by experiments, the reading of papers on those experiments, a discourse analysis primer, analysis of chat in the Trade/Famine Experiment, and work in small groups to imagine and research new experiments.
Questions were central to the Program: “What research question is this experiment designed to answer?”; “What are the effects of intellectual property protection on innovation?”; “What are the considerations for the first player in the ultimatum game?”; “What is the role of morality in economics?”; “How can we better understand the relationship between propriety and property?”
Each day was organized to allow the young scholars opportunity to work closely with faculty, both in discussion and in the lab. Every question led to new questions, just as “way leads on to way” in Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken.” Certainly, the journey continues for these summer scholars.
– Jan Osborn is Professor of Education and English and Bart J. Wilson is the Donald P. Kennedy Endowed Chair in Economics and Law at Chapman