2012 IFREE-sponsored Summer Scholars Program

June 24th-August 3rd, 2012

Eight students, ranging from high school seniors to third year undergraduates, spent six weeks at Chapman University working to design experiments in the Summer Scholars program, lead by Chapman University professors Jan Osborn, English Department, and Bart Wilson, Economic Science Institute.

Students studied a range of interdisciplinary texts, including Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments (economic philosophy), Nicolas Phillipson’s Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life (historical nonfiction), Derek Bickerton’s Adam’s Tongue (linguistics), HBO’s The Wire (screenplay), J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians (novel), and a number of economic research articles. These text-centered collaborative daily discussions was the core methodology for learning.

The students deepened their understanding of experiment design, history, human behavior, and story telling. This collaborative experience, hands-on from the first day, provided young scholars from across the country an opportunity to read and discuss, create and collaborate, question and learn.


From letters sent to Professor Vernon L. Smith, students said:

I can’t wait to go back home to share my experiences with people in my small town.

What I enjoyed most was the daily book and reading discussions, especially as the ideas came to life through our back and forth banter.

I will always remember the Smithean propositions that ‘beneficence alone requires reward; harm deserves punishment and the want of beneficence deserves no punishment.

From this program I now have a fundamentally different view on the problems of history and the history of economic thought.

Our Summer Scholars team accomplished so much this summer and what I have learned here will help me hone in on my study of economics going forward as I enter university.

I am captivated by experimental economics, and that has been true since last year when I attended the high school workshop.

Learning about Smith’s view of proper conduct, and about the institutions and sentiments that make men virtuous, along with Hayek’s arguments, were quite unique and a break from my usual technical studies and activities.

Because of Summer Scholars I am better at thinking and I am better at reading analytically and use much more questioning.

What is amazing to me is the generosity of the instructors and their dedication to us as undergrads.